How to make pesto for the freezer

September 24, 2010 | By | Comments (3)


Basil, bolting.

The Italian basil in our outdoor kitchen garden was bolting,
so it was time to harvest it and make pesto for the freezer. (Check out our tips for how to grow basil.)


How to harvest basil.

I snipped off the stalks just above a spot where they branch
out. This way, the plant will keep growing and likely produce another crop
before the frost hits (and the plant withers and turns black).

 I pulled the leaves from the stalks, gave them a good
rinse, then spun the basil dry and measured it. Once I knew how much basil I had, then
I’d know how much of the other ingredients to get ready.


 Ingredients for a double batch of the recipe
(You can use these same techniques for pesto made from other herbs, like
parsley and mint, too.)


Classic pesto for the

MAKES: 2 cups, enough for 2 lbs. pasta

8 oz. parmesan cheese

3 garlic cloves

1 qt. packed basil leaves

2 handfuls toasted pine nuts (cooled)

3/4 cup olive oil

 1. Cut the parmesan in chunks, grind it up in the food
processor, and dump it into a bowl. (I actually prefer the domestic
triangles of parmesan here to the fancy Italian stuff, which has so much flavor
it kind of overwhelms the basil.)

2. Whirl the garlic in the processor until minced. Add the
rest of the ingredients, including the cheese, and pulse until the pesto is not quite smooth.

3. Scrape the pesto into containers (fill them full so the pesto won’t darken) and freeze up to 3 months.

4. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or put a container in a
bowl of warm water to thaw if you’re in a hurry. That’s it!


Here’s the pesto ready for the freezer.


And here’s the pesto over big shells. Yum!

I also love pesto as
a sandwich spread with turkey. Still hungry for pesto? Here’s a story about pesto’s premiere in Sunset, way back in 1946.


  1. Stephanie – Chocolate and Toast

    Another tip is to portion the pesto into muffin cups, freeze, and then place the frozen pesto cups in a freezer storage bag. You can take out just the amount of pesto you need at any one time, and the small portions defrost much faster.

    September 26, 2010 at 12:57 am
  2. Jim

    Pine nuts have dramatically increased in price. Substitute walnuts instead.

    September 25, 2010 at 1:40 am
  3. Mike LIeberman

    Didn’t get the chance to grow much basil this summer. Though there is one plant that might make it through the next couple of weeks.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and giving a great way to preserve the harvest.

    September 24, 2010 at 3:18 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s