Backyard Basil Pesto Season

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell

When your basil crop is at full summer strength, before the leaves curl up and the tops flower, it’s time to make some pesto and get it into the freezer. You’ll be especially glad you did when the only basil you can get is a tiny $3 bunch hanging by the dill.

And if you put it off until the first frost arrives, you’ll be extra disappointed. Then come February, I guarantee you’ll be so thankful for that aromatic fresh flavor tossed with linguini, stirred into mashed potatoes, combined with mayo and smeared on a sandwich, or swirled into a hot winter soup. Yes, delayed gratification is a good thing.

You can make a good basic pesto with or without the cheese for freezing. I’ve had great results both ways. It won’t take up as much room in the freezer if you leave out the cheese. Thaw the pesto and stir in the Parmesan before using.

Lots of folks like the convenience of freezing pesto in ice cube trays (if you still have some lying around, or you went for the silicone trays the cocktail craze brought us). Once frozen, just pop out the green cubes and store them in a sealable freezer bag. So easy to grab a cube or two and put to use. Or, spoon the pesto directly into the small freezer half bags in a thin layer and sealed. Flat, thin bags stack and store so nicely.


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