I love pesto! Many of my friends love my pesto. Today finds me making pesto for the third time this season. There could be a big ole discussion on growing and harvesting pesto to maximise your efforts etc. But you know what? I don’t have time today. And we are way past that point anyway. Maybe later then.
I have twenty-two Genovese basil plants and fifteen Thai basil plants. I’ve harvested the Genovese three times not counting the random pickings here and there to season something. The Thai basil went in really late. Later than all the other late stuff this year. I have not harvested it yet although I have plucked the ends off enough to force it to branch a couple of times. I expect a harvest will be coming soon.
You can see comprehensive visuals here, at Moonmooring, that I photographed in 2009. I am a much improved photographer since then! The pesto is still ‘da bomb! So check out those pics and here are some more to encourage you along your own pesto excursion.
When making pesto – work fast! Pick the top branches of each branch leaving a bilateral leaf so it will split and grow more. Make sure the pesto has been watered well for a few days prior to harvesting. Pick about one or two hours after the sun hits the leaves to bring the oils to maturity. Waiting until late in the day on a sunny day will give you limp leaves – try to avoid that if you can.
Rinse the basil leaves well checking for little spiders, slugs and other assorted bugs that might be hiding in this aroma den. Shake excess water from leaves. Drain and lay out on absorbent towels to dry. I have used my Pampered Chef salad spinner and it works well for small to medium amounts of basil. Today’s was an especially large harvest. After I laid it all out to dry on towels I put a small fan on the counter to gently speed the drying time. That was a good idea – thank you Marideth Sisco.
When processing multiple batches (I had five large food processor batches today) place each finished batch in a large bowl and stir them all together for uniformity. Taste once in a while and tweak your garlic , cheese and nuts if need be.
Jar up in straight sided jars or freezer jars. Use a table knife and run it around the edges and sides to remove air pockets. Air will make the pesto oxidize and it will turn dark faster. Mash each jars contents down flat with the back of a spoon and top with a thin layer of olive oil to seal out the air. Freeze in an upright position. This will keep all winter and still be delightful!
I expect to put up about thirty half pints this summer. Some of this will go to friends and we will eat most of it. It makes a great pot luck dish! Just pour a jar over hot cooked pasta for a quick delicious meal or have it with your favorite crunchy vegetables and crackers!