Freezing Pesto

Rows of sweet basil in our garden.

With predictions of frost in our area in the next week or so, friends have been thinking about ways to preserve basil. It doesn't have to actually frost, for basil to drop its leaves, just a very chilly night and the leaves start falling. I know my friends have been thinking, "pesto" because I've gotten 2 phone calls and an email, asking for a good pesto recipe. Here's my favorite and it can be frozen and kept for the winter months. Just fill ice cube trays with the fresh pesto, freeze, then pop out the pesto cubes into plastic bags and keep frozen until ready to use. And there's a simple trick to keeping frozen pesto tasting fresh (below).

Freezer Pesto

4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons almonds or walnuts (you could use pine nuts, they're more expensive, but I like almonds better)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put everything into the food processor and blend ingredients until smooth. Scrape the edges to make sure everything has been processed.
Pour the mixture into ice cube trays, filling each section. Freeze for 24 hours, then pop out the cubes into Zip-Lock bags and keep frozen.

Now the trick. When you are ready to use pesto, combine it with half Romano, half Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible. Since those cheeses don't freeze well, the flavor of your pesto will stay much fresher if you don't put the cheese in the pesto before freezing.

Rose and Basil Pesto
Roses and basil taste great together!

2 cups fresh basil
1 cup fragrant *rose petals
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts (I prefer walnuts)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon food grade rose water
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (don't substitute bottled juice)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
Salt, optional

Peel and coarsely chop garlic, then add rose petals, basil, nuts and olive oil in food processor. Pulse blend until everything is well pulverized.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well. This can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

*If you aren't sure what roses you can use, visit my YouTube video for tips on using roses in food.
You'll find more of my videos at http://youtube/longcreekherbs/ as well.

You might also enjoy my book, How to Eat a Rose, available from my website.

Another suggestion about pesto. Collect the leaves from plants that aren't blooming, the flavor will be better. Lemon basil is tasty mixed with sweet basil or any of the varieties. Thai basil is the least interesting basil for pesto, but even that works if you've kept the flowers clipped off.
Sweet basil is one of the best flavored basils for pesto. Clip off and discard the flower stalks.

Lemon basil gives a fresh flavor to pesto, so use it in combination with other basils if you have it.


Urbanherbal said...

Great ideas!

Thanks for sharing.....


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Love this posting. Now I know NOT to add the parmsean and romano first. Good tip.

I am going to go back to enjoy your video,

Sending love to you two across the iles,