Friday, July 19, 2013

How to freeze basil for pesto

Pesto is one of my favorite foods. I love basil so much that if there was a basil cologne I would buy it for the Husband to wear. Now that's a lot of love.

Here's how I enable us to eat pesto year round:

1) Buy a bunch of basil or grab some off a plant outside. Take all the leaves off the stems and wash the basil. Give it a spin through the colendar to remove most of the water.

2) Measure out how much basil you have, then adapt this ratio from the Joy of Cooking - 2 cups of basil : 1/2 cup olive oil - to the amount of basil you have. For example if you have 3 cups of basil, you'll mix 3 cups basil + 3/4 c oil, or alternatively 1 cup basil to 1/4 c oil. Pulse the basil and oil in a Cuisinart for about 30 seconds or until the basil is finely chopped, but stop before it turns to paste. 

3. I have repurposed this baby food container for pesto, although an ice cube tray would work just fine also. Spoon in the basil-oil mixture into your freezer container, then freeze for minimum 12 hours. Once these are frozen, pop them out into a plastic bag and store them in the freezer.

4. When you're ready to make pesto. Pull out a hunk of basil-oil. Defrost it until it's liquid again. Put it into the Cuisinart, along with a clove of garlic, a small handful of pine nuts, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese if desired. Pulse all together. Add oil to thin out to desired consistency. Enjoy on pesto chicken mozzarella subs.


  1. Do you every have problems with the mixture turning brown? I've run into that sometimes. Maybe it's due to procrastinating and not getting to the basil sooner? Also, any thoughts on blanching the basil first? Some of the recipes i've seen include that step - do you think it makes a difference?

  2. Hi, good question. By the second day, the parts of the pesto that have been exposed to the air do start to turn toward brown, underneath that layer thought it will still be green. I try to defrost and only make as much as we're going to eat for that meal, and maybe the next. Blanching would be a good solution for sealing in the bright green flavor without sacrificing flavor. Let me know if you try it!