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Sep 27, 2010 11:50 AM


I want to make some basic pesto to use throughout the winter. Am I best to freeze it or can it be canned in a water canner?

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  1. I freeze... with a twist. This has been an evolution for me. First I freezed pesto, then I started freezing without the cheese, then I began omitting the nuts, and now I am just down to processing the basil with as little oil as possible.

    Why? First I had a friend who was vegan, so adding the cheese or not was a nice choice to make when I defrosted. The nuts were lost one year because we really like to make pesto pizza that has crispy pine nuts as one topping so the extra nuts seemed redundant. And starting last year, I decided that having some simple basil oil can be a really refreshing topping on some soups and stews, and so I am down to just the oil and basil.

    There are two benefits:

    1. After defrosting my small containers, I can now make pesto or just add some garlic, or rub it on a roasted vegetables. I am no longer locked into one flavor profile.

    2. Takes up a ton less space in the freezer.

    2 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      ditto on this, though I started this because when thawed I thought the nuts and cheese tasted rancid. the basil and oil freezes really well and like said above, you can use the basil for anything ( rubbed on chicken/fish, topped soups, risotto etc) Once my basil is thawed I just throw the pine nuts in a ziploc and crush with a mallet, mince garlic, mix all together then add chese and a little butter and toss with pasta.

      1. re: cassoulady

        Bumping this thread: my basil plants have gone wild and I've got a whole ice cube tray of the stuff, chopped and frozen with a drop of water. I was intending just to drop it into sauces but there's so much I've been thinking about making pesto. Does anyone know whether basil frozen with water, rather than oil as above, will turn out ok? Worried about it being soggy and discoloured...

    2. Freezing is the way to go. It can't be canned safely in a water bath because it's low acid and contains large amounts of oil. I would assume the heat would pretty much just cook it to death if it's pressure canned.

      I found this reference to pressure canning pesto:
      "....But if you want to can it, I’d recommend using half-pint jars; you don’t want leftovers. Using your favorite recipe—typically basil, peeled cloves of garlic, and olive oil, crushed well together—pack it into clean jars to within half an inch of the top. Wipe the rim, place a previously boiled, warm lid in place, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process at 10 pounds pressure (adjust the pressure upward for higher altitudes; check your canning manual), for 45 minutes. " from this site:

      I do as much shelf stable preserving as I can but honestly, I wouldn't do it. I freeze mine.

      1. I learned to how to freeze pesto from my Opera loving Italian Barber, and his small two chair shop is called the Barber of Seville.

        I freeze my pesto in ice cube trays, each cube is serving, once they are frozen, i remove them from the tray and put them into zip lock bags,

        I combine the cheese, nuts, oil and basil in my blender. I do not have an exact recipe, I do it by taste, I do not use garlic. Most recently, pine nuts hit $30lb, I used walnuts instead and it was still good, but a little darker. My barber wants to try macademia nuts.

        The Ball Jar plastic Lid Box has a recipe for frezzing pesto in a jar, they fill it 3/4 of the way and use the plastic lid, i float a little oil on the top.

        3 Replies
        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

          Not sure where you live - and your access to a Costco - but we buy them there. I think it is a 1-lb bag for ~$12. They freeze great and pull them out and use them whenever needed!

          1. re: EpicurBurbs

            I live in SAn DIego, CA. I went in the other day, and they looked it up on the system and they were 30 for a 1.5lb bag. The clerk said, are you sure you want to spend that much. Last year I paid 20 for the same size bag.

            1. re: EpicurBurbs

              Your bag is old! The bags are now at $30/lb. Evidently there is a mold/bug or something that has reduced the harvest substantially in Italy. I have to say, I refuse to buy any pine nuts grown in China.

          2. I have only tried to freeze mine, but have had very good success. I froze some just yesterday, and like normalheights, I toasted some walnuts and almonds to use in lieu of the pine nuts because I didn't have any pine nuts (probably out because I didn't want to pay the $$ for them!). Like smtucker, I omitted the cheese. While I like the ice cube tray idea, what I've found works best for me is to pour it from the blender into a ziploc and then lay it flat in the freezer. I do this with smashed banana, grated zucchini and fruit purees and end up with flat "cards" of pesto, etc. that are very easy to stack and stash in little slots in the freezer. When I need to use one, I just put it in the bottom of a shallow baking dish with cool water and it's ready to use (though sometimes still slushy) in about 1/2 hour.

            1. Warning. Some pine nuts cause something called "pine mouth". Something which makes almost everything taste bitter. Nuts from China, Russia, and Korea are the culprits. Trader Joes carries nuts from Russia and Korea. This is what did me in. After checking the web there are dozens of posts about this.