Making Pesto is fun and easy if you plan well.
Have the following ingredients on hand ahead of time;
nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)
garlic (home grown or store bought)
basil, when the harvest is ready
Today I harvested about 1/3 bushel of very loose pack basil branches. They should be rinsed and dried. Inspect carefully for insects (especially if you are a vegetarian!) I spray mine off early in the morning checking under leaves for any noticeable bugs and knock them off, then allow them to air dry before cutting. Try to cut before the heat of the day to prevent excessive wilting.
Then I pick the leaves off the largest of the branches. Commercial preparations will contain a lot of branch and it is edible so set your own standards. I don’t like very much branch in mine. I ended up with about 2 + gallons of medium/loose pack leaves to work with.
Roughly 2 gallons of picked leaves loose packed.
I set each of my ingredients out in the order I will use them, olive oil, cheese, nuts, garlic (broke into cloves and peeled).
Olive oil is expensive, use the best you can afford. This brand is ok.
Shredded parmesan is so much better than the powdered kind in most stores, but it will do if that's all you have access to.
I usually purchase walnut pieces because it's less expensive, nut meal can be an even better buy. Use what you prefer.
Nothing beats home grown garlic!
The Nutz And Boltz Of Putting It Together!
Use a small food processor such as this one with sides that slope back in at the top.
Pack the processor snugly with basil, add about 1/3 C. olive oil, scant 1/4 C. cheese, 1/4 C. nuts, and 1-2 cloves garlic.
Put the lid on and pulse several times until all the ingredients are thoroughly cut in and fairly fine but not totally pulverized. Scrape the processor bowl down a time or two if necessary.
Scrape the processed pesto into a large bowl, then repeat the previous step until all the basil is used up. Take a taste test once in a while to see if you want to add more or less of something. You can tweak it at each batch! When you have used up all the basil and have it all in the big bowl, stir well and add some more oil if it seems too dry. Don't add too much, you can add more easily when you thaw it later to eat.
Pack snugly into small jars, either 4 or 8 ounce is best for me, and be sure to remove as much air as possible. Leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space at the top. Top off with a thin layer of oil to prevent browning of the pesto, cap, label and date. I use recycled jar lids as you aren't sealing them just closing them.
The finished product! Capped and labeled. I got 3 1/2 cups of pesto from this batch. Pretty good for the first harvest! I used the approximate 2 gallons of basil, about 1 1/2 cups olive oil, 1 cup cheese, 1 cup nuts, and a head of garlic (I like a LOT of garlic in mine!). Pesto will keep at least a year in the freezer if you have removed all the air and have a good layer of oil on top. It will keep in the fridge a day or two if it is exposed to air; browning will occur. Keep it smashed down flat in an open jar and recover with a thin layer of oil each time you use out of it and it will keep for a week or two. When I open a jar it tends to get eaten right away and doesn't have time to go bad! Enjoy!
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