WE ARE WATER WISE!

The majority of large-scale agricultural operations rely almost solely on the use of impact sprinklers to irrigate their fields. Impact sprinklers are a cheap and effective way to irrigate provided an ample water supply is available. The extremely dry conditions being experienced in California over the last number of years has served as a wakeup call for us to re-evaluate our irrigation practices. What is the most efficient way to nourish our crops so they can nourish our bodies? Water is precious – not a drop should be wasted.

We are water wise.1Impact sprinklers in action – much of the water is wasted due to evaporation and runoff.

 

Rotary nozzle sprinklers.

Best suited for closely spaced plants and those which require direct seeding (e.g. lettuce, beets, carrots, etc.).

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Drip irrigation.

Best suited for larger plants with even spacing (e.g. squash, tomatoes, peppers, etc.).

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HOW DOES OUR SYSTEM SAVE WATER?

 

Rotary nozzles.

These are 30 to 50% more efficient than impact sprinklers. For additional water savings it is possible to adjust the radius of our rotary sprinklers from full circle to ¼ circle so that we only water where it’s needed

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We are water wise4

 

Rotary nozzle watering our potato plants.

 

We are water wise5                             Impact sprinklers in a large-scale agricultural operation.

 

Drip irrigation.

This is 50 to 75% more efficient than impact sprinklers.This increase in efficiency is achieved by: Properly spaced emitters provide water directly in the root zone of the plants. Water is applied at a slow rate, reducing losses from runoff and evaporation.

We are water wise8

 

Our farm is dedicated to conserving our precious resources. Whether in times of abundance or times of drought, conservation should be everyone’s priority.

At Bee Fruitful Farms we plan on hosting classes on water conservation, irrigation, and rain water harvesting. Please join us in making a difference.

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Our Kind of Farming

Natural Process Farming


The “Natural Process” farming methods being implemented on our farm were developed by visionary farmer Bob Cannard. Farmer Thomas Herzog was privileged to learn this method of farming from Bob himself during his year-long internship/employment at Green String Farm in Sonoma County from 2011 to 2012.

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What is “Natural Process” Farming?


~No synthetic chemicals of any kind (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.)

~No pesticides of any kind (organic or conventional)

~Minimum tillage (no more than 2 – 3 crops per plot per year)

~Full maturity cover cropping (providing the soil a steady state food supply)

~Applying broad-spectrum mineral supplement

~Restoring indigenous soil biota

 

Theory


Past civilizations depended on the floodplains as the most fertile land for cultivation of agricultural crops. The silt deposits of the Nile River were so fertile it is said that the entire civilization of Ancient Egypt was built by the Nile.

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The fertility of floodplains is due to regular applications of “mountain tea” where cascading streams bring water rich in minerals and biology from erosion of the mountains above.

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The biology from the mountains consists predominantly of aerobic microbes that thrive in the oxygen rich environment created by ripping, rolling rivers.

These aerobic microbes are essential for further breaking down the minerals present in the mountain rocks and in the floodplain soil.  Once broken down these minerals become readily available to the plants. Our farming methods mimic this natural process through application of crushed volcanic rock and compost teas to our soil.

 

Practices


Inputs

Crushed igneous rock (AKA Stone Meal) is applied to the fields to restore all the trace minerals in the soil. These trace minerals are essential building blocks to the plant’s immune system and to the immune system of those who consume the plants.

Dirt in hand

 

Pest Management

In natural process farming there is no such thing as pests. We treat all “pests” as an indicator of soil health and if a plant is getting overrun by some type of bug it is obvious that the plant is missing something essential to the proper functioning of its immune system.

spider

The digestive forces of the soil are built up by applying compost and compost teas which are pre-inoculated with the local indigenous soil biota. Your local soil biota is already acclimated to your climate and will do the best job of making all the minerals in the Stone Meal available to the plants.

dirt on shovel

As a Natural Process farmer Thomas experiments with compost teas and various trace mineral supplements to try to improve the health of the plant, rather than covering up the deficiency like most conventional and even organic farmers choose to do.

tomatoes

 


Are We Certified Organic?


Our farm is not currently certified organic but that does not mean that our farming methods lack integrity. Did you know that when you purchase organic you are not necessarily getting produce free from pesticides?

It is true, the National Organic Program (NOP) allows the use of pesticides derived from natural substances or living organisms if they do not contain prohibited synthetic (man-made) additives. Even a few synthetic inputs are allowed in organic production (a list of these substances can be found in section 205.601 of the National List). Although the use of pesticides is typically a last resort for conventional and organic farmers alike we pride ourselves on the fact that our natural process farm never uses pesticides of any kind, conventional or organic.

So why the holdout on organic certification? We had a lot of work to do this past year to get the farm operational. This year we decided to focus our efforts on providing you with the best quality produce, educating you on our progress through social media, and throwing an amazing open house for our community. We fully support organic farming and hope to be certified soon.

Our sustainable farming practices produce food free of chemicals and grown with respect for the environment and humanity. We strive to provide you and your family with the most nutrient rich food available by nature.

Here’s to your health

bee fru no line STONE-MEAL-FARM-

                              

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An Unusual Arrangement

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On the surface, you might see us as an unlikely partnership. I’m in my sixties, he’s in his twenties. My background is real estate sales; he’s a graduate from San Jose State with a degree in electrical engineering. But those are our obvious differences. Why I invited Thomas to build his farm on my land is more about what we share in common.

We share a passion for the earth and her ability to feed us. We value our natural resources and encourage education to help protect them. And we are passionate about everyone having access to safe, natural wholesome food. Our union was simply meant to be; Thomas (Stone Meal Farm) brings integrity to farming practices and we (Bee Fruitful Farms) offer inspiration and education to a healthier lifestyle.

Come meet the people at the heart of this most unusual arrangement.

Sue Draper
B.F.F.

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Pop Up Breakfast at the Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market

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The Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market hosts improvised “Pop-Up Breakfasts” at the Westside and Scotts Valley Farmers’ Markets. At the event, an outdoor kitchen is set up, tables and chairs are trucked in, and a restaurant literally “pops up” out of nowhere. Local chefs serve multi-course meals made from seasonal ingredients sourced from the very farms that sell at the market. The goal of the Pop-Up Breakfast series to to connect chefs with local farmers, and patrons with their local foodshed.

If you haven’t heard about these special events, you should click on this link and learn all about them.                                                                                                                                   Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market/ Pop Up Breakfast

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The Bee Fruitful Farms’ team attended a “Pop Up Breakfast” at the Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market on August 23rd. As we entered the beautifully set up dining area, live music by Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink of the Seabright Serenaders played and we could already smell the delicious aroma of the dishes being prepared by Chef Heidi Schletch of Feel Good Foods and Plumline Farm .

popup8                                    Matt & Mandy Draper of Bee Fruitful Farms

From the hand made napkins, to the fun conversation starter cards that were paced at each table setting… we knew this was going to be a fun filled morning.

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popupmanda                                    Alicia, Mandy & new Baby Caroline


The Menu…

GARDEN VARIETY SHEEP’S MILK YOGURT AND BERRY CUP                                    Blended and garnished with mint

PLUMLINE JAM ON COMPANION BREAD                                                                          Served with organic butter and Massa Organics raw almond butter

ASIAN STYLE RICE BOWL                                                                                                     Massa Organic rice topped with fried farm egg, Korean-style short ribs, and Plumline kimchi

SEASONAL GREENS                                                                                                                    Salted and tossed in organic olive oil

SWEET FINISH                                                                                                                             apple fruit crisp with whole cream

TASTY BEVERAGES COURTESY OF                                                                                      Hidden Fortress Micro Farm & Equinox Champagne and Wine

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popup1                                     The food & drinks were incredible!     

                                                                         


Lucky for us…. our farmer, Thomas of Stone Meal Farm was one of the special guest speakers. If you would like to listen to Thomas giving his speech on his “natural process farming methods”,  please click on the link below and click the orange download button.

Pop Up Breakfast Speech

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Matt, Mandy & baby Caroline enjoying Thomas’s speech


We were given some informative reading material. All of the proceeds from the pop-up breakfasts go to support public education efforts including “the Food Shed Project”. . . check out the link to learn more.

SC Farmers’s Market/ Foodshed Project

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The Pop Up events are a great way for members of the community to get to know one another. We had some great conversations with very interesting people we would have otherwise never met.

The 2014 season ended on September 20th, but we hope you can also enjoy one of these special events when they return in 2015!


After having a great time and a lovely meal, we walked around the market. We had to stop by and see Thomas at Stone Meal Farm’s booth.

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In Thomas’s Speech he talks about how close the farm was to the Farmers’ Market (only a mile away). Here is the view from the Sky Park bike trail. We took the short walk to snap this beautiful scene.

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We hope to see you at our Farm Open House this month.

Contact us for all the details!

Cheers,

Bee Fruitful Farms   


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Postpartum Wellness – Tips for a Healthy Mamma

 

 bee fru no line               STONE-MEAL-FARM-

Hi Friends,

For those of you who frequent the BFF-Stone Meal booth at the Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market (held at the SV Community Center every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm) you may have grown accustomed to receiving our fun weekly informational handouts just to have them “poof” disappear before they became a regular read. I promise you won’t be able to fault me when I tell ‘deliver’ my explanation…  Just as the crops in our fields are growing so is the Draper Family. Recently, we…….well I – delivered a beautiful baby girl! Caroline “Cara” Grace Draper was born on August 4th, 2014 at 2:19 am. She measured 20.5 inches long and weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Every inch and ounce of her is perfect. We are so blessed!

bffcara

I’m feeling wonderful (thank you for asking!), so for this week’s newsletter I would like to share some postpartum wellness tips that have been particularly beneficial for me this time around. I have also included my favorite postpartum recipe for Broccoli Orzo featuring Stone Meal’s amazing ‘Di Cicco’ broccoli. If you know someone who is pregnant or has recently delivered please pass this along – after nine long months of pregnancy they deserve to feel great too!

Mandy Draper – BFF

 

 

Postpartum Wellness – Tips for a Healthy Mamma

Nine months of pregnancy, labor then delivery, and now you have an infant who requires your care 24 hours a day and even more if you’re breastfeeding. . . your body has been and is still going through a lot. It’s easy to become so absorbed in caring for your new baby that you neglect your own needs. Hopefully the tips below will help you heal, build energy, and avoid the “baby blues”. Consider these tips a minimum requirement – what your body really deserves is an awards ceremony.

General: The three most important things we can do for our body immediately following delivery are; hydrate (at least 8 servings of liquid per day), rest (sleep whenever you can), and relax (keep meals simple and don’t worry about keeping a spotless home). I know these tips are easier said than done. . . I recall some hormone-induced dust bunny tackling while my baby napped at 5 days postpartum. . . oy vey!

Healing:

Regaining Strength: Following delivery it is important to focus on rebuilding your iron stores. I typically reach for lean red meat as my primary source of iron however due to digestive discomfort (see below) I personally don’t recommend this until at least few days postpartum. We can start rebuilding iron with leafy green veggies and egg yolks. Eat something high in Vitamin C to increase absorption of iron and avoid calcium with any iron rich meal which has the opposite effect. The perfect postpartum snack? A green smoothie (see previous post on leafy greens for a recipe).

Digestive Discomfort: No matter how you delivered (naturally or by cesarean) your organs/intestines are most likely not where they were when you started your journey to motherhood. You could experience some digestive discomfort in the first few days postpartum while things return to normal. In the meantime it is important to eat foods that are easy to digest (fruits are ideal) and avoid heavy foods like meats and cheese.

When the Box Cars Back Up: The idea of having a normal morning routine after everything your body has just been through is not a pleasant thought. Thankfully nature is kind and most women are backed up for a few days following delivery. It is important that this back up not last too long, however, to get things going try to stay hydrated and eat a lot of high soluble fiber foods and fruits (especially figs). If that doesn’t get things moving try drinking 4 ounces of prune juice on an empty stomach, followed by 2 glasses of hot water.

Energy: Fatigue is the most common complaint of new mothers for obvious reasons. A healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to combat fatigue.

Diet: A well-balanced diet is essential in maintaining vitality. Aim for 5 to 6 mini meals which regulate blood sugar levels better than the typical 3 square meals. Two vitamins that play an essential role in energy metabolism and stamina are Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin E. Meat and beans are good sources of Niacin. Good sources for Vitamin E include nuts (especially almonds), seeds, asparagus, olives, and vegetable oils. Be sure to avoid energy zapping foods such as refined sugars, white flour, alcohol and caffeine.

Exercise: Keep exercise mild at the beginning – walking is perfect. If after exercising you notice that you need to break out the maxi pads again it is time to take to bed with your baby and a good book – your body is telling you that you have overdone it. In general, more strenuous activities can be resumed around 6 weeks postpartum.

Mood: The “baby blues” is much more common than previously acknowledged. In most cases much of “blues” is a result of exhaustion and stress. A new mom needs to get adequate rest and should consume whole grains regularly for the stress-reducing B-complex vitamins they provide. In some cases the “blues” can be directly linked to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. The most common culprits are:

Zinc. Good sources include eggs, fish, beef, garlic, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin C. Good sources include tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens (especially kale), peppers, and citrus fruits.

Calcium. Good sources include dairy products, leafy greens (especially kale) and sesame seeds.

Omega 3s. Good sources include deep sea fish (watch out for mercury) and walnut oil.

Folic Acid. Good sources include avocados, leafy greens (especially spinach), and fruit. A well rounded diet combined with a daily walk outdoors in the fresh air (and a daily shower) can do wonders at warding off the baby blues. If you are concerned that you may have postnatal depression, a more serious clinical condition, contact your medical practitioner right away to discuss treatment options.


‘Di Cicco’ Broccoli Orzo

This recipe has so many wonderful attributes I just need to stand on my soapbox for a minute. It is fast and simple to prepare, it can be eaten hot or cold, it can be served as a main course side dish or snack, and it keeps in the refrigerator for at least a week! It is the perfect thing to have on hand postpartum (as long as your baby is not sensitive to cruciferous vegetables which have been known to give some babies gas. So far we have been lucky and this has not been a problem for either of our daughters). For a gluten free variation try using brown rice instead of orzo. This recipe makes four to six servings.

Ingredients: 1-½ cups whole wheat orzo 1 pound broccoli cut into bite size pieces ¼ cup good    quality extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons pine nuts ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) ¾ cups feta cheese ¾ cups chopped black olives

Method: Steam the broccoli until tender and set aside (I use the same pot that I cook the pasta in to   reduce the number of dishes I have to do after cooking). Bring a large pot of salted water (the water should taste like the ocean) to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the pine nuts cook until starting to brown (about 3 minutes), add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). When the orzo is al dente drain it into a large pasta bowl. Add the broccoli and the heated oil mixture to the orzo and toss to coat. Add the feta and olives and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

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Meet the family behind Bee Fruitful Farms

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Bee Fruitful Farms is owned and operated by the Draper Family. Lee and Sue Draper moved to Scotts Valley, California in 1976 where they raised two children: Kelsey and Matt, and enjoyed more than 30 years of success as a prominent real estate team.

Although their trade was real estate, Lee and Sue’s true passions were family, friends and nature. When Lee was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 the pair purchased a wildly, overgrown 6+ acre property on Bean Creek just outside the Scotts Valley City limits. For the next several years the pair worked tirelessly to restore the property to its natural beauty. By the time of Lee’s passing in 2009 he had completed his masterpiece – the stunning setting that is now home to Bee Fruitful Farms (BFF).

Shortly after Lee’s passing Sue attended the Oprah Winfrey Show where she was the lucky winner of a $25,000 Publisher’s Clearing House prize live on the air. Convinced that there was a higher purpose for prize money, Sue spent years dreaming with her family. . . What seeds could they sow with this gift?
The answer that arose was BFF – an educational resource for the community of Scotts Valley where families can learn about sustainable agriculture, wholesome food, and one another.

Sue still lives and works in Scotts Valley, continuing her success in real estate with her son Matt now at her side. She is an avid gardener, an amazing gluten-free cook, and wanna-bee beekeeper. She is the Yoda of Bee Fruitful Farms – our master and spiritual leader (and not just because she owns the property).

Matt Draper is not only Sue’s son and half of their very successful real estate team; he is her partner in BFF as well. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Agricultural Business in 2002, Matt has tried on many professional hats. Before real estate he worked in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and health care industries in both lending and finance sectors. Through Matt’s varied professional endeavors he has never lost sight of his true passions – local, sustainable agriculture and his community. Matt is a natural engineer and he would tell you how much he loves designing and implementing infrastructure projects around the farm but the real reason he does this is so he can drive the tractor.

Mandy Draper is Matt’s wife and the mother of their two children: Danica (2) and Caroline (3 weeks). Mandy graduated from San Jose State University in 2009 with a degree in Civil Engineering. She currently works in Santa Cruz as a staff engineer for Dees and Associates Geotechnical Engineers. Mandy’s curious and inquisitive nature (and voracious appetite for books) means that she is constantly acquiring new gardening, cooking, and homesteading skills. Look for Mandy at BFF farm classes – coming in 2015 – she will probably be sitting in the front asking a lot of questions.

Kelsey Draper-Phillips lives in Scotts Valley with her husband, Jeremy Phillips, a local electrician and their two children: Kadelynn (9) and Jamison (7). Kelsey graduated from Sonoma State University in 2000 with a degree in Business Administration. She currently works as a project manager for Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Kelsey is the like the team’s utility infielder, the woman can do anything. On top of that she is outrageously creative and has the most genuine, warm spirit.

Now you ask, who is doing the day-to-day dirty work? Who is the f-a-r-m-e-r? Very good question. . .
To allow BFF to focus on education and community outreach, the Drapers have teamed up with Thomas Herzog of Stone Meal Farm. If you would like more info about our head farmer Thomas, check out his website http://www.stonemealfarm.com/

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Keep those fresh fruits and veggies longer…

 

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Why Preserve?

Convenience. I think of my preserves as wholesome fast food. If I didn’t get around to planning dinner until during my drive home from work (this is more than an occasional occurrence) I can throw together a plate of pasta anointed with preserved tomato sauce and a grate of parmesan cheese and viola, dinner! The best part is I know exactly what went into our meal.

Community. I like to enlist the help of my friends and family during preserve season. I like to think it as group therapy where we all go home with future meals.

Connectedness. Many people don’t realize that the seasonal famer needs to support their family in January on what they sell in September. When you buy produce in bulk for preservation you are helping that farmer succeed, and ensuring that they will return next season to provide the yummy items you crave.

Meditation. Preserving food is a time for reflection – it forces us to slow down and perform one task at a time. If you try to multitask you may miss a step and blow the whole batch. It is hard not to feel immense gratification for the abundance of nature as you watch your countertop transform from mountain of fresh produce to neatly stacked colorful jars.
Methods

Drying. Dehydration removes about 80% to 95% of moisture from produce, making it difficult for microorganisms to find the moisture they need to thrive. Common dehydration methods are solar drying, oven drying, and use of commercial dehydration equipment. I tend to favor solar drying for herbs, garlic, and chili peppers. . . oven drying for fruits and veggies. . . and if you have a commercial dehydrator than you probably already know more about drying produce than I do.

Freezing. Freezing works well for most fruits and vegetables. Berries can be frozen whole and stored in air-tight containers for up to one year. Other fruits and veggies should be processed with vinegar or lemon juice and blanched prior to freezing to prevent loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching stops enzyme actions which cause vegetables to grow and mature – the opposite of what we are trying to do during preservation.

Canning. Canning depends on acidity for safety to protect against proliferation of Botulism spores – a pH of 4.6 is the current threshold set by the USDA. Many fruits are acidic enough to be canned in a simple boiling water bath but most vegetables require processing in a pressure canner that exposes the produce to above boiling temperatures to be safe. Since I don’t have a pressure canner I pickle my veggies in an acidic liquid such as vinegar or lemon juice to lower their pH to safe levels.

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Spicy Pickled Bush Beans

Makes four (4) pint sized jars
Ingredients:
2 lbs. bush beans (green, yellow or purple), washed and cut to fit height of the mason jar
2 cups white wine vinegar
2½ cups filtered water
½ cup lemon juice
4 dried red chile peppers, pierced once or twice
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 (3 inch) strips lemon peel
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons honey

Method:
Sterilize four (4) pint sized mason jars and their lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This can be done in a large pot of boiling water or in your dishwasher.
Trim green beans so they fit upright in the mason jars. Evenly divide green beans, chili peppers, garlic, and lemon peels between the sterilized jars. In a small saucepan, combine all other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour brine on top of pickles using a funnel, leaving about 1/4 inch of head space. Apply lid, wipe rim clean using hot water, and screw metal band on firmly.
In the large pot of boiling water, lower jarred green beans, submerging jar in at least 2 inches of water. Process for 10 minutes. Use canning tongs to carefully remove hot jar, and then set it in a cool, dark place. As the jar cools, listen for the lid to snap, signaling a proper seal. Wait one week before opening the jar. Refrigerate upon opening. Opened jars will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

If the jar does not seal properly store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

Bright Green Basil Pesto
Makes 1 cup
Ingredients:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:
Blanch the basil. This is the secret to keeping the pesto green. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water to shock the blanched basil. Once the water has reached a steady boil blanch the basil for 10 seconds, stirring to ensure the basil blanches evenly (save this water to cook your pasta!) Remove basil with a slotted spoon and immediately drop into the bowl of ice water. Remove promptly and gently squeeze out excess moisture.

Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan. If I don’t devote all of my attention to this step I will inevitably burn them (this is heartbreaking because they are so expensive!)

Place the blanched basil, garlic and toasted pine nuts into the blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped, then add ½ cup of the oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you are going to serve immediately add the remaining olive oil and cheese – stir to combine.

If you are freezing transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle the top with remaining olive oil. The pesto will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to serve thaw and stir in cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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