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Jul 7, 2013 10:41 AM

Pesto turning muddy brown - more so than usual....

I have been making Pesto for years. It is one of the delights of summer for me, my family and friends. It browns a bit on top of the container, and I usually put a thin layer of olive oil on top and it is fine.

This batch is turning brown more quickly, even with the olive oil, and what is worse, when it is mixed with hot pasta, it turns a muddy brown from the heat. It tastes good, but I have never had it be so brown before. I haven't changed my recipe- except that I used fresh garlic from the farmer's market instead of the usual garlic bulb. It made me think of when i have pesto in a restaurant- it isn't brown - is some kind of antioxidant added - Vitamin C powder or something like that? I would love to know how food service people keep it green - although I won't use BHA and such preservatives.

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  1. A squeeze of lemon can brighten the color. But I think there may be another issue .
    A couple of ideas;
    Over working in the Food Processor
    Dull blade in the Food Processor
    Too much Stem / not picking the Basil leaves thoroughly enough.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      No stem, as I pinch off the leaves individually. Blade of food processor could be dull though, and maybe over working it too.

      I do not want to add lemon juice because it will affect the flavor, but I am wondering about adding Vitamin C powder - pure ascorbic acid that I got for baking, but I don't know if that will do it - I will add some to the next batch - not sure of how much to add either.

      1. re: laraffinee

        The flavor consequence of adding a bit of Lemon Juice is almost nil in such a highly flavored Condiment.
        Sharpen you blade and do not let the Pesto get warm from over working.
        As far as the Vitamin C powder I do not know anything about it.

        1. re: chefj

          Thanks - I am sure the blade and over working are at least contributing to the problem. I will try some of the Vit C powder - its sour too, so I will just try a little bit and see how that goes.

    2. I tried blanching the basil, parsley, and oregano. It seemed to keep the color brighter, but was too much trouble for pesto that is going on the bottom of grilled pizza,

      3 Replies
      1. re: grampart

        I've read about blanching the basil - I don't mind doing it if it doesn't affect the flavor. The basil turns brown if the leaves are crushed - seems like blanching might do the same.

        1. re: laraffinee

          Blancing does set the color but as you would expect it also changes the flavor, still very good but not the same.

          1. re: laraffinee

            I compare it to Key Lime is not what matters.

        2. Temperature, perhaps? I know that refrigerating fresh basil makes the leaves brown. Did you treat it differently, or get it from a different source?

          1. It might just be that because it is the summer time (at least it is where I am so I guess I could be way off base here), and it is hotter the reaction that oxidizes the basil is happening faster.

            1. I always add the juice of half a lemon when I make a batch. I also tend to throw in a handful of spinach/kale that needs to be used up since they hold their green a bit longer. Minimal flavor change, and it stays green for a long time.

              1 Reply
              1. re: autumm

                I use 1/2 basil 1/2 fresh baby spinach.
                Tastes very similar, stays green longer, much cheaper