Freezing Basil Pesto is a great way to have fresh pesto all winter long. This is the last of my posts on freezing basil in different forms. I have created posts for making fresh Basil Pesto, Freezing Basil with extra virgin olive oil, a Pesto Pasta dish called Pesto Radiatori and now freezing Basil Pesto. It’s been a busy weekend!
In freezing Basil Pesto, I’ve made my traditional fresh Basil Pesto recipe, put it into ice cube trays, freezing them, then putting ’em into zip top bags and storing in the freezer. But I find that the Parmesan cheese looses it’s flavor and has a little bitterness to it after freezing. So, I make the pesto without the Parmesan cheese and add it later when I’m ready to use it in a recipe. It tastes so much fresher.
The instructions are similar to making fresh Basil Pesto. You’ll see some similarities between the two posts.
Here’s how I make it.
Freezing Basil Pesto
After washing and drying basil leaves, weigh 3 ounces in a bowl. That is about 4 cups lightly packed. I just find it more consistent to weigh it.
In the bowl of a food processor with the blade in place, put in about a third of the basil leaves. Process it just enough to shred it up a bit and make more room for the rest of the basil leaves and ingredients. I would let it process for about 30 seconds.
Add another third of the basil, process it and then add the remaining basil leaves.
Add the toasted pine nuts, crushed garlic and salt.
Click on Toasting Pine Nuts link to see the super simple way to make them!
Lock on the lid and turn on the food processor to low speed. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Continue to process on high for about 30 seconds more. You will probably need to open it and scrape down the sides a couple times and continue to process until it’s the consistency you like.
Spoon the basil pesto into ice cube trays.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top. This helps protect that top layer from freezer burn.
Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Freeze 24 hours.
When you’re ready to put them into zip top baggies, get a 9×13 baking dish and add about 1/2 – 3/4 inch of cool water. Take the ice trays out of the freezer and sit in the water for about 30 seconds. This will help loosen the cubes.
Write the content and date on the freezer zip top baggies before you fill them with the pesto cubes adding “w/out cheese”. I have found that I get oil on the baggies while handling and putting the cubes in them and then the markers just don’t write as well. Then Pop out the cubes and put them in the zip top baggies. Put the baggies in the freezer. Done!
When serving, thaw the cubes and add Parmesan cheese. My cubes are 2 Tablespoons each. I add about 1/8 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese per 4 cubes. (1/8 cup Parmesan cheese for 1/2 cup of frozen pesto)
A little tip: Measure Tablespoons of water in one of the cubes so you’ll know how much chopped basil you’ll have. Write that on the zip top baggies. Then mid winter when you want to drop one of the frozen cubes in a pot of soup or sauce, you’ll know how much each one is.
Here’s the printer friendly recipe.