Making and Freezing Pesto

by Daisy



One day I’m searching the bare earth for signs of life, tiny green cotyledons shaped like a pair of back-to-back capitol letter Ds.

Baby basil.

The next day, it’s months really, but where did they go? I’m pinching, pinching, the fuzzy flowering tips with a sense of desperation–must stop them from going to seed, bittering, and growing leggy and tough.

If you’ve ever raised a teenager, this may sound familiar.

Hopefully without the pinching.

The basil is going to seed, but I’m making pesto anyway. The lemon basil is faster to bolt this year than the sweet basil, so I’m targeting it first.


Basil stems tend to have even more of the bitterness, especially the tougher, late-season, woody stems. You can save them and dry them to put over the coals when barbequeing and get one more use out of your basil plant.

IMG_7764Most experts recommend leaving the cheese out when you’re planning to freeze pesto. I’ve done it both ways and here’s my take on that: if you tend to be impatient and want to microwave-thaw your pesto, you should probably leave it out because microwaved pesto becomes gummy pretty easily.

If you refrigerator-thaw your pesto portion, I think it tastes perfectly fine to go ahead and add the parmesan before freezing. If you’re particular about the effect freezing has on cheese texture, though, I’d wait and add it in when you’re ready to use the pesto.


I’m not adding it this time, so it looks a little olive-oily. That will be absorbed by the cheese when I thaw and prepare it at a later date.

I like to freeze the packages flat, and “score” the pesto with the side of my hand, making indentations which, when frozen, I can use to break off into smaller portions. This batch was a little too big for the size bag to do that, but with a larger bag or a smaller amount of pesto, it works well.


So make haste, it’s a race against time.

Here’s a basic recipe. Add or leave out the parm before freezing as you see fit.

Also, don’t forget, cilantro makes an other-worldly good pesto, as well as parsley and sorrel and tarragon and the mints, in combination or individually.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup nut of choice (almond, walnut, pecan, pine, etc.)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until a slightly textured paste consistency, scraping down sides as needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sallie August 17, 2016 at 5:51 am

Blessing to you and yours. I needed this information…. now!!!

Cynthia August 18, 2016 at 7:43 am

My basil has full on flowers 🙁 We went on vacation and it bolted. Do you think I could still use it for pesto?

Daisy August 18, 2016 at 8:44 am

Cynthia–Make a trial small batch with the leaves only and see what you think. Sometimes if it’s just bolted the leaves aren’t too bitter, and if you put enough parm, olive oil, and nuts on anything it will still taste pretty good, right?? Ha.

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