Introduction: Pesto Freezing Method

Picture of Pesto Freezing Method

Here is a quick one on how I like to freeze pesto. The short version is that I put the fresh pesto in a decent Ziploc back, cut a corner of the bag (1/2" size hole) and squeeze like icing into ice cube trays. Freeze the trays and then transfer into freezer bags. I freeze mine with the cheese in there. when we want pesto in the middle to winter, we just pop out a couple of cubes and toss in the dish. Much easier than carving out of a large frozen block... I also do a few tricks to keep it from oxidizing while freezing etc.

I’ve also included my favorite recipe and a few gratuitous close-ups of the green goop. There is a good instructable on actually making there stuff here.

Any comments or actual hard facts on why not freeze the pureed cheese with the pesto? I always see advice on not doing that but have had bad experience with it… I suppose it may taste slightly fresher if done when thawed but I cant tell the dif…

Step 1: Make Pesto and Put in Ziplock Type Bag

Picture of Make Pesto and Put in Ziplock Type Bag

Make lots of pesto at once.

I like the recipe below - simple and good. But I am going to try some of the other ingrediants that this person put up here.

The pesto recipe comes from the Produce Station in Ann Arbor. Oh how we miss Ann Arbor...

Step 2: Get Out Ice Cube Trays and Cut Bag

Picture of Get Out Ice Cube Trays and Cut Bag

Remove ice. Place in your drink or give to the dog.

Line up your ice trays.

Cut a corner of the bag (not the corner where the zipper is...) with a pair of scissors - i think a 1/2 inch size hole is good. Be careful that is does not start squirting out as soon as you cut the bag...

Step 3: Squeeze It. Its Fun.

Picture of Squeeze It.   Its Fun.

Squeeze the pesto into each cube section. Do not overfill. Better to do more batches than overfill it and have a mess on your hands.

After the trays are full, level off the pesto, cover with saran wrap and press saran wrap into the pesto. This reduces oxidation (dark green color).

Step 4: Freeze and Bag.

Picture of Freeze and Bag.

Freeze in the tray for a few hours. Then transfer to a freezer bag for long term storage.

Its best to get as much air out of the bag as possible. Vacuum sealing would be ideal.

Anyone have a DIY for a vacuum bagging system?

Now, when you need pesto for one, two or five, you have the chunks ready to go. I buy into the conspiracy theories that microwaving kills the good stuff in veggies so I just let them thaw slowly if I cant just throw it in with the hot food. They thaw pretty quickly anyway because of the olive oil....


beehard44 (author)2012-03-18

for the vacuum sealing, you can have a plastic bag. Fill it with your goods, use the jig i used here> . sandwich the bag into the jig (don't fold it like in the 'ible) then vacuum the air out. The jig is to prevent the plastic from wrinkling too much. Then it's a vacuum, you can seal it with an impulse sealer.

PaganRaven (author)2012-01-07

Mmm...great 'ible!
For those asking "why freeze?" -- not everyone has the time nor the available ingredients to make fresh pesto.
Freezing is not, I repeat...NOT a sin! (If so, then I'm a definite sinner...weeee!)
The cubes trick is great but using snack size or sandwich size bags is good too.
My husband and I freeze many things (we're so baaaaad!) and using bags that freeze flat and are stackable is the best way for us.
Either way -- freeze on!!!

krowii (author)2011-03-30

You cant just put everything in the food processor at once. You gotta SLOWLY oh so slowly drizzle the olive oil in as the ingredients are being pureed.

jackobanzi (author)krowii2011-08-06

I make my pesto in the blender. The first time, I drizzled the olive oil and it was a pain. The second time, I dumped everything in and just let it go...that worked WAY better.

oread (author)2010-08-16

the reason I buy basil (and many other healthy foods) is because I live in the city. I cannot grow anything at home.

junits15 (author)2010-07-24

I think your pesto is to thick, I've always seen it very thin and watery, did you buy the basil from a store? The way my mom makes it always produces a watery slurry, she uses fresh basil from our garden.

jomilemon (author)2010-07-21

When I want to vacuum seal a plastic bag, I just seal it closed most of the way then insert a drinking straw into the bag (go in about half way) then I suck all the air out and seal the bag quickly closed that last little bit. Sometimes you may have to do this a couple of times to get all the air out, but this really works!

geezer_in_the_kitchen (author)2007-10-27

try using cilantro instead of basil. Also pistachios in lieu of pine nuts make for a very nice pesto. Not that pine nuts aren't great- they are.

Aaahhhhh! I understand you cannot get  basilico from Prà or Coronata, but it's not pesto without basilico.. You can try nuts instead  pine nuts, but please not pistachios.

Susan Helf (author)2009-07-28

I've used pine nuts for years, but after the scare about tainted cat food from China, I refuse to eat ANY food grown or processed in China. Nearly all pine nuts come from China. I use walnuts and can scarcely tell the difference.. I usually make a year's worth of pesto each summer, frozen it in ice cube trays I've never had a problem with freezing the olive oil or the cheese. Freshly made pesto is the best, but how are you going to keep your pesta plants fresh until next winter? Susan

shoeho (author)2009-07-16

I freeze a favorite is to freeze any leftover coffee in ice cube trays. I use it in my iced coffee, desserts (tiramisu), bbq sauce (never store bought), chili, chocolate cakes, etc...........I have frozen pesto before....usually at the end of the season I make my winter supply...I use minimal EVOO for freezing, the pine nuts are fine...I use small sandwich size bags, lay flat on a cookie sheet, then they stack. I can thaw enough for 2 or a crowd....just add the additional EVOO when your ready.

aquax (author)2006-08-02

I also use the ice cube tray method for freezing homemade chicken and seafood stocks. It allows me to defrost a small portion, without having to defrost an entire container of stock.

westfw (author)aquax2006-08-04

Also useful frozen into cubes: heavy cream. clarified butter.

Junkyard John (author)westfw2008-08-20

... and orange juice. No ice cubes are gonna soil my perfectly mixed glass of orange juice!

lilly (author)2007-08-12

Cool variation - mint, basil, sage or Rosemary (or all together) with Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice instead of olive oil - make cool cubes of instant fresh lemonade - just ad water.

dianexo7 (author)2007-07-01

thanks for this idea...I have beautiful basil and was wondering what to do with it besides drying..gonna try the frozen pesto... thanks :-)

troykyo (author)2006-08-06

It's a beautiful idea, but isn't frezzing olive oil just about the worst thing one can do. I am living in Italy right now, and every Italian I ask flinches at the idea of eating oil that's been frozen. I like the basil idea better,as you can just add the oil and pine nuts. Boun Appitito!

subversive (author)troykyo2006-09-05

what's wrong with freezing olive oil?

Mellow (author)subversive2006-09-11

According to the California Olive Oil News: Nothing. "Chilling or freezing olive oil does no harm and the oil will return to its normal consistency when warmed."

yeah, oil is very hard to freeze anyway.

rouge568 (author)2007-04-20

You can also use Dixy cups (small paper cups) to freeze it. That way, it's already prepackaged for thawing.

dapinoyba (author)2006-08-02

one might ask, what is pesto? well here you go [Italian] a delicious sauce used for pastas, grilled meats, and poultry. This is made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Some versions will also add parsley and walnuts or pine nuts. The ingredients are ground into a paste and moistened with the olive oil. Pesto is also used to describe similar sauces that contain other herbs or nuts

5Volt (author)dapinoyba2007-01-17

One important point: it is not cooked, just mashed basil and the ingredients you mentioned. I'd not add neither parseley nor walnuts. Pine nuts are a must. Buon appetito ! Ciao 5V.

all_thumbs (author)2006-12-28

DIY wacuum bagging? Amateur boat builders often do it. For this application, I would guess that you could obtain decent results simply by using your vacuum cleaner. I have once stripped the fan and engine from a vacuum cleaner in order to use them for vacuum bagging. Worked quite ok. Another solution, which might be more appropriate for kitchen use, is to buy/build/find one of those nozzles that you hook up to a water tap. (There is a swedish word for them, but I cannot find a proper translation at the moment.) Once you turn the water on, decent suction is "produced" in a side tube of the device. No moving parts.

all_thumbs (author)all_thumbs2006-12-28

Finally found the name of that simple nozzle thing; water aspirator!

all_thumbs (author)2006-12-28

What do the local animal rights activists say about feeding ice cubes to a dog? (I suppose it's better than giving them a drink. [The dogs, not the activists. They'd definitely be better off with a drink.])

all_thumbs (author)all_thumbs2006-12-28

(Whoee, what happened there? I only tried to put square brackets around "The dogs, not ... ...with a drink.", but the text turned orange.)

jstkatz (author)2006-12-08

FWIW, I used to make pesto with my family, one big batch when basil was really in season, we'd just put in in small mason jars (1 or 2 cups), we'd make about a gallon and a half at a time, if you fill the mason jars like 90% of the way up, wipe the sides above the pesto with a paper towel, and then but like a 1/4" layer of olive oil on top, and put them in the fridge, the olive oil keeps them from oxidizing, and even makes sort of a hard shell when it gets colder, some of them stayed good for up to a year, if you haven't eaten them, Also, use the wide mouth jars, Also #2, when you partially use a jar, wipe down the sides again and cover with OO again

ToolNut (author)2006-08-11

Yes I agree everything is better fresh and lovely. But busy people + no good fresh cheap herbs in the winter + need for quick food to avoid the drive through = frozen pesto etc. And Ive never tasted a big difference with the frozen oil - I think the oil content is low enough that it does not do bad things.... But now that folks have suggested Im going to do a taste test with frozen pre made pesto and fresh made pesto from frozen basil... I'll let you know - but it may be December before a fair test is ready!

tchynerd (author)2006-08-11

Question.... why would you freeze Pesto? I've always found that any sauce that is made is best when it is fresh but I guess if a person doesn't have enough time to make it fresh that would be ok. Great Instructable (Pesto Ice cubes for my Iced Tea maybe?)

cookiedough (author)2006-08-02

I use this method for plain basil, too. Chop the basil and add just enough water to fill in the gaps. Once frozen, remove, wrap with plastic wrap and stick in a ziplock. As far as a vacuum method:I just use a straw in the corner of a mostly sealed bag. Its crude, but works decently enough. Also, don't forget to buy up a bunch of juicy peaches and freeze them for the winter--can't be beat!

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