Freezing Pesto

| 5/29/2018 9:39:00 AM

Tags: preserving basil, pesto, Julia Miller, Illinois,

Do you ever wonder what to do with an overload of well producing basil? Do you also crave fresh foods in the winter? With just a little bit of preparation, you can answer both questions!

When you keep basil blooms pinched back, the plants grow tall and bushy.  At every juncture you pinch off a budding flower spike, the plant will shoot off more leaves. Continue to do this for several weeks and you end up with a robust harvest of basil.

I prefer the large leaves of sweet Genovese basil. Not only does it have that distinctive basil flavor, but the large leaves quickly fill a bowl. I use a considerable amount of basil fresh; in Caprese salads and fresh pesto. But, I also like having home-made pesto in the winter as a quick pasta sauce. 

Basil does turn dark when exposed to cold so you might be surprised to find there is a way to keep it beautifully green in the freezer. The secret is to pack the freshly made pesto into jars and cover with a thin layer of olive oil, close with a tight fitting lid and freeze immediately. The olive oil seems to create a barrier that keeps the color a nice green.

My version of pesto uses pinenuts and I do like it fairly garlicky. You can adjust the amount of garlic to your own taste. I use 2 ounce canning jars with plastic lids. One jar this size holds the right amount of pesto to create a pasta sauce for two people. It keeps well for at least one year. Pictured is a jar I just pulled out of the freezer to use.

6/4/2018 8:44:06 PM

The photo is of an ice cube tray? Wrong photo?

6/4/2018 11:40:34 AM

Thank you so much for this! I love pesto and had no idea that you can freeze it without it turning an icky black color. Since it's still fairly early, I am going to plant more basil I have a winter supply!

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