Preserving Food
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Making pesto before the first frost…..
This time of year, many home gardeners are scrambling to make the pesto before the first sign of frost, since basil is one of the most tender herbs, and quickly dies when the temps get near 32 degrees.  This recipe makes a lot of pesto, which I freeze in small sandwich bags.  Then, when I want to make spaghetti sauce, I simply toss one in with the tomatoes, add an onion and sometimes a green pepper, and voila! you have a yummy pasta sauce to use in a variety of dishes.  
Or, you can use one or two bags with a little white sauce or a little more olive oil on top of shrimp or scallops or even just your favorite pasta with vegetables.   It’s also great with fresh goat cheese on crackers or artisan bread chunks.  Pesto can be a versatile compliment to a number of dishes.  This recipe can be divided if you have less basil.
8 cups finely chopped basil
¾ cup good olive oil
12-16 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup chopped pine nuts
10 ounce bag freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the branches off one’s basil plants, or cut the plant at ground level.  If you are making this earlier in the summer, you can cut the branches, but leave the main branch; it will continue to grow.  Rinse branches or plant under light water spray to remove any dirt or small insects.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Pinch off the leaves, one plant at a time.  Do not chop the stems, though you can use the flowers.  In batches, chop the leaves in a food processor, almost to puree level.  Empty chopped leaves into a stainless steel bowl and add some of the olive oil and stir to coat evenly.  Continue to chop the basil and add the olive oil until you have about 8 cups.  Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely, also in food processor.  Add to basil mix.  Chop the pine nuts, coarsely, in food processor and add to basil mix.  Add the Parmesan cheese and stir thoroughly.  Using sandwich bags, put about 3 heaping tablespoons of the pesto into the bags, flip the envelope closure, and pat into a flat disc. When you have about 5 discs, you can put them in a Ziploc sandwich bag and label it. Freeze.  When ready to use, unzip the Ziploc bag, and use one or two at a time, depending on your recipe.  To make a great flavorful spaghetti sauce, I use two quarts of canned tomatoes to one envelope of pesto.  Enjoy!
Note: Some cooks I know freeze the pesto in ice cube trays.  When they are frozen, they pop them out and then bag them.  One ice cube of pesto is about one tablespoon.


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