Aug 26, 2013

Preserving Pesto

One of my garden goals last year was to have enough basil to make and freeze pesto to last us through the winter.  It was a bust, though - my seeds didn't start well and I only ended up with a few basil plants.  I tried again this year and, to my surprise, I ended up with a whole row of basil I started from seed.

fresh basil in a colander

The basil has done well and so far I've made about 7 cups of pesto.  Five of those are in the freezer for use over the winter and we enjoyed the other 2 cups with chicken and pasta.  Here's what we have in the freezer so far.

pesto from the freezer

The majority of it is in half-pint jars.  The freezer bag contains little pesto pucks that I froze in a silicone muffin pan.  I picked that baby up at a yard sale a while ago, just knowing I would eventually find a use for it (besides baking).  Each puck is  about 1/4 cup which is plenty of pesto for a little pasta salad or a few sandwiches. 

Something good to know - pesto doesn't expand when it freezes.  I kept the lids off the jars while it froze thinking that it would expand and I didn't want to bust any of my precious canning jars.  Come to find out, there was no need.  It didn't expand at all.

I've only pulled 4 basil plants so far and with an entire row of 24 plants, I have a ways to go.  Note to self:  a whole row of basil is a little much.  I'm hoping to make a good bit more pesto - at least double what we have on hand now.  I'd also like to dry quite a bit to have on hand for Italian seasoning for sauces and pizza.

Here is my pesto recipe. 

2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
2-3 garlic cloves, depending on size
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Few good cracks of the pepper grinder, more to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse the basil, garlic, walnuts and seasonings in the food processor until finely chopped.  Add in the cheese and pulse another 3-4 times to combine.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until well combined.  You will likely need to scrape down the bowl a few times throughout the whole process.

As you may have noticed, I do not use pine nuts in my pesto.  At $20+ per pound, I'll pass.  I use walnuts instead.  The pesto is just as good and much more economical.


  1. Looks and sounds good, Carrie!

  2. I often use sesame seeds in place of the pine nuts, and it is delicious and cheap.

  3. Great post. I use the silicon muffin pan to freeze mine and I skip the nuts altogether. I love having some basil on hand in the middle of the winter - it's just a nice boost of fresh flavor.
    Followed you from the Homestead Barn Hop.
    Love for you to come by Wildcrafting Wednesday and share.

  4. I enjoy pesto as well. I use sunflower seeds instead of the pine nuts in mine and I really like it! This last time that I made it I also substituted a homemade goat cheese instead of the parmesan cheese and I couldn't really tell the different.


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