How long will fresh pesto keep?
- jq Sep 8, 2004 11:46 AM
I made a huge batch of fresh pesto and am wondering how long it will keep. Thanks!
whichever method you use, the air has to be excluded or the pesto will oxidize and get bitter. My first pesto was put up in jars in the refrig - as long as it is covered with olive oil to exclude air, it will stay fresh. In recent years I use the freezer method but I still cover the top of the paste with olive oil. It lasts a LONG time. I suppose that vacuum sealing and similar methods should work as well as the oil, but the oil works for me. Just make sure it covers the whole surface.
I had pesto yesterday that had been in the freezer for over a year. No apparent problem. I mash basil and olive oil in a food processor and place in ice cube tray. When frozen place in freezer bag and freeze. When thawed (in microwave) add pignoli, garlic, a little more oil and parmesano. One cube per serving seems to work.
I would recommend separating it into smaller portions and freezing it. It freezes really well. I made a large batch recently, froze some of it and the other night, when we got home and it was sort of late, just popped it in the microwave for about a minute and it was just as good as the fresh batch.
Because I grow my own basil, I usually make quite a bit of it at the end of summer. I freeze the pesto in small souffle cups, pressing saran wrap flush over the pesto, then place each in small ziploc bags.
Just the other night we had the pesto I made last year (because I haven't made this years' batch yet) and it was still utterly delicious!
I have the basic ingredients down, (basil, good EVOO, pine nuts, garlic and parmesean) but can someone give me proportions, and a recipe that's good for freezing? (I know that the parm shouldn't be added till ready to use, but how about the pine nuts? The garlic?) And should the pine nuts be toasted first?
Give a first timer a little help.
re: foodie in lawyer's clothing
Here's my very classic recipe (I'm sure stolen from somewhere - Marcella Hazan? - but since I took it from my mother I don't know!):
2 cups fresh basil leaves (detach from stems, tear large leaves in halves or quarters, pack fairly firmly)
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 good-sized cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese plus additional cheese
1. Put the basil, olive oil, nuts, garlic and salt in food processor or blender and mix at high speed. Stop from time to time to scrape ingredients to bottom with rubber spatula. (I like to process the nuts and garlic a little bit first, before I add the basil and oil.) If freezing, freeze at this point and continue with the rest after defrosted and ready to use.
2. When the ingredients are evenly blended, pour into a bowl and beat in the cheese by hand.
3. Before spooning the pesto over pasta, add to it a tablespoon or so of the hot water in which the pasta has boiled. This makes enough pesto for 1 lb. of pasta, preferably fettucine or spaghetti.
re: foodie in lawyer's clothing
I have never been able to taste the difference between freezing just the pine nuts and the pesto and the olive oil and the earlier v. later addition of garlic and parmesan, but my husband swears it tastes fresher if you add the cheese in after thawing the frozen cubes. And Marcella Hazan's recipe is the one I use, adjusted mathematically (yay, fractions!) for the amount of basil I have on hand.
Yogurt may keep it fresher longer. It adds a slight flavor, but I like it. The recipe I used is on epicurious -- search for pesto and yogurt.
Two things that keep pesto bright green a long time - learned from Michael Chiarello:
1. Blanch basil, refresh in ice water, then dry well before grinding
2. Add a pinch of vitamin C powder (with all that garlic, you can't taste the difference, just crush an unflavored vitamin C tablet)