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Does anyone out there have a trick for keeping freshly made pesto from oxidizing and going all army brown in 15 seconds? When storing any leftovers in the fridge, I top the pesto with a thin film of olive oil and this seems to work pretty well, but when I serve it tossed with pasta or spooned on a fresh tomato slice, it goes all funky in a hurry. It almost always stays a vibrant green when I order a dish with it in a restaurant, so I know there must be a trick....anyone? Thanks.

asked by Oui, Chef almost 7 years ago
10 answers 3971 views
73cd846c b69c 41fe 8f8b 7a3aa8dd3b93  desert
added almost 7 years ago

Blanch your fresh basil in hot water just for a moment. Cool under cold running water and then make pesto. Be sure to use your oil trick and keep it air tight when storing.

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added almost 7 years ago

DonnyG's answer is spot on. In addition to blanching the basil, I add fresh spinach too, for extra green.

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added almost 7 years ago

Yes, DonnyG is absolutely right. To my knowledge, there is no other way. ;o)

7de1be53 97f2 4599 9d8c 718bbeec2110  steve dunn02
added almost 7 years ago

Thanks DonnyG, and to TiggyBee and AntoniaJames for their concurring opinions. I wondered if this might be the trick as I've blanched numerous other greens to help them keep their color, but always thought basil had to be kept raw for an authentic pesto taste / texture. Still got a bunch of basil in the garden, and will be putting this good advice to use tomorrow! Thanks again - S

22b9ddc9 fc61 48a3 949e dee341974288  liz and dad
added almost 7 years ago

That is a great tip!!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 7 years ago

A spot of lemon juice?

67da29df 0253 44dd 98a1 250b49e519a4  hilary sp1
added almost 7 years ago

I blanch the basil leaves and put lemon juice and zest in the pesto. Sometimes I'll do half arugula/ half basil or half basil/half spinach.

95faff30 cc53 4c8e 8c8d 9b770dc26f9e  dscf2141
added almost 7 years ago

Definitely a little spinach/parsley helps keep it green. Per Harold McGee here are a few other ideas.

-Use leaves only, not stems or stalks;
-Cook the pasta in water acidulated with lemon juice (1/4 cup per quart) or cream of tartar (1 1/3 tablespoons per quart). This prevents the basil enzymes from acting on brownable substances in the pasta, but makes the pasta tart;
-Use pine nuts, not walnuts.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 7 years ago

I remember a tip that I think Michael Chiarello mentioned years ago, which was to crush a plain Vitamin C tablet to a dust consistency and add that to your pesto. He claimed it would keep that vibrant color after months of being frozen or weeks of being refrigerated, and that it didn't affect the taste. He also added the thin film of evoo.as you've been doing.

C405edfb eff8 43c8 8d2a 9c901ad00568  ozoz bw january2014
added almost 7 years ago

Oui Chef, just to add that lanching works a treat (already said) - but its the same trick you used on cilantro in your roasted red pepper soup. BTW, I discovered that the blanched cilantro has a more pronounced taste, something perhaps to do with the essential oils (if any) loosening.

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