Hey pesto...

07 May, 2014

(Hahahaha - I love me a pun title!)

Over the weekend I finally got around (read: had nothing else to do) to harvesting my basil and making pesto.


As you can see the basil harvest was quite out of control. I just kept cutting it, chopping off the seed heads and remaining flowers, and chucking it into the bowl. I left one really healthy plant for seed saving. I've always struggled to get basil to survive, so hopefully this one will be easier to grow next season.

Of the massive bowlful, I only ended up using two thirds of the harvest, and the rest sadly went into the compost, purely because I had already made more pesto than I would ever use and had plenty to give away.

My process of pesto making is quite simple. After washing the leaves, removing them from the stalks and then drying well, I blend (using the ever fabulous Thermomix) one garlic clove and about 50g of cashew nuts (I don't like pine nuts) per three big handfuls of basil leaves. Then add about 100ml of olive oil and blend again.

"But where is the parmesan?" I hear you say. As I freeze my pesto, I add the parmesan when I defrost it. I suppose I could add it before freezing, but I like to freshly grate it. And this is the way I've done it in the past and it worked fine.

After blending I had a massive bowl of pesto.
   

Note the chunks of cashew throughout. I don't like it overblended to paste.


Now comes the slightly tricky bit. I put my pesto into tiny zip lock bags which hold about 2 tablespoons of pesto. This is a perfect amount for when I want a little pesto to add into soup, or on bread, or for pasta...

It also means I don't have a whole jar of it in the fridge going off before I can use it all. I've heard of people freezing it in ice cubes, but I don't see how you'd get the pesto flavour out of the tray after, and I can't see myself having a tray just for pesto. And you'd have to do it in batches as I'd sure have more than one ice cube tray worth. No, no, no. Too hard basket.

Despite being slightly fiddly, the zip lock bag process is easy.

Insert funnel into bag.


Add pesto to funnel.


Prod through with a spoon end or chopstick if it gets stuck.


I filled a heap (I think about 10 from memory) for the freezer, and a couple of pesto jars to give away.


To stop the gifted jars from fermenting too soon, I topped them with more oil. This will keep out some bad bacteria and should make them last a little longer.


There we are. Summer fresh flavours for future meals.

16 comments:

  1. I love your zip lock bag idea, will save so much room in the freezer

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    1. Cheers! I need these kind of space saving measures, and even so my freezer is always full!

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  2. look at all that yummy green basil goodness! i love the idea of the little pouches - perfect portions.
    i have a scant few leaves left - i intend to pick them soon and whizz them thru with some cooked brocolli. thanks for the verdant reminder :-)

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    1. Thanks e! That's a great idea - now I just need my broccoli to fruit!

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  3. What a great idea. And I'm so envious of your basil. Mine struggled this year and was only enough for a dainty garnish on the tomato soup.

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    1. This was probably my best basil year so far, so don't give up! They needed lots of water to get well established once they germinated (grown as seed in the greenhouse and then transplanted), but then they just took off.

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  4. Ha! Great minds think alike. I did the same thing for the first time last season...made a huge batch (without the parmesan) and froze in small portions. Isn't the Thermomix a joy for such things? Is the oil on top to stop fermentation? I thought it was to keep oxygen away from the basil which goes black if not. I used to put oil on top when I made a large batch and kept it in the fridge, but the basil layer on top still went black, so I scraped it off before use. You were lucky to still have basil growing; my last few plants went to God weeks ago.

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    1. The therrmomix is fab for this sort of stuff. I have done it in the regular food processor in the past and it worked fine, but the thermomix was much quicker and easier.
      The oil is to prevent bad bacteria getting in by being a protective layer, or so I have always understood. But I'm no expert.
      Yes, I was lucky. I don't reckon it would have liked the 3 degrees we had this morning.

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  5. Hi Rebecca - enjoying your blogging even though it makes my garden look SO inferior. Just thought you might enjoy this article I came across...http://grist.org/food/urban-farms-wont-feed-us-but-they-just-might-teach-us/

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    1. Hey Adrian, great to hear from you! Thanks, but I'm still jealous of your verge garden production. My verge is the last bit and I'm still trying to kill off the ever persistent couch grass before I can start growing on it. Ah well, one day.
      Very interesting article, thanks for sending it!

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  6. I ice cube them, then take them out once they're frozen and stick them in a bag. This weekend is my pesto-making time. :)

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    1. Fair enough, each to their own. I do like the bag idea, but can't yet get past the basil-infused ice-cube tray. :)

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  7. I'm a cuber and a freeze with cheese-er. Whatever works for you huh? Main thing is to preserve that summer sunshine to eat in the winter. Looks yummy x

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    1. Hmmm, maybe I need to do a trial of freeze with cheese and without. Maybe 2015...
      True, the main thing is having pesto, whichever way you get there! :)

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  8. I am going to have to try cashew nut pesto- I did my annual pesto making a few weeks ago. Sadly I am not sure if its all going to end up in the bin as I ended up a victim of the bizarre syndrome of "Pine Mouth" (basically caused by cheap Chinese pine nut substitution I gather). A year ago I ate pine nuts at a pub- a few days after I kept getting a weird bitter metallic taste in my mouth every time I put something in my mouth. After 5 days I was going nuts and consulted Dr Google- http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/science/risk-framework-and-studies/food-risk-studies/pine-nuts-and-pine-mouth/#.U3NT-IGSxIE couldn't believe it! I had eaten supermarket pine nuts since with no issues but opened a new pack for pesto (Lucky nuts) and SNAP! pine mouth again...... a week of not enjoying any food- I ate not fun! pine nut pesto makers be warned.

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    1. That sounds very unpleasant. Thanks for the warning. I hope you manage to salvage some of your pesto; it would be so cruel to have to chuck it all out due to some dodgy pine nuts.

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