*disclaimer: there is controversy over canning pesto. It may not be the best way for your family to make and store pesto. Here’s my story.
My basil was getting out of control. We hadn’t used any, really, since Gary’s been too busy to make more pizza dough. He makes at least 6 balls of dough at a time and he’s changed the original recipe a little so I’m afraid to tackle it. It’s on his honey-do list this weekend. Meanwhile, our basil is out of control.
I cut most of it down and made pesto this morning. I don’t have a food processor and the blender leaks so I had to do this by hand. A terrific website called “101 Cookbooks” had a great article called “How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother”. It talked about chopping the pesto and other ingredients with a knife like they did before convenience appliances. A novel idea so I went for it. The recipe I used was from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and I’ll give the links at the end of this article.
Since I was going to do this by hand, I should make a lot. I checked out canning info for pesto and found that it would be easy also. I don’t have your typical canning stuff; just a spaghetti pot with an insertable strainer and I bought a set of 8 ounce Ball jars from Publix.
The recipe calls for 5 cups, packed, of basil. Do you realize how much that is? I didn’t either. It took a while to cut that stuff but I figured using kitchen scissors and then finishing the process with a chopping-type knife worked best. I got a finely-chopped-yet-chunky basil. I chopped half of the 1/4 cup of pine nuts finely, almost mealy, and finished the rest with a rough chop. Ok, yes, my arm was hurting but in a culinary sort of way, I thought a little texture might be interesting.
After mixing all of the ingredients together I tasted it. OMG, how awesome. Gary liked it, too. By itself, it was a little salty but when we mixed it with pasta for lunch it was incredible.
I filled 3 8-ounce canning jars and saved the rest for lunch. The canning instructions said to fill the pot with water and once it was boiling set the jars, upright, in the water making sure it covered the tops and boil for 30 minutes. I had to add hot water during the 30 minutes due to evaporation. When 30 minutes ended I took the jars, set them on a cooking rack (the cookie rack was fine) and left them. I was worried I did something wrong because I thought the vacuum seal would happen while the jars were in the pot. It didn’t until after about an hour; there was a great concave feel to the lids. Awesome.
So, there is my first ever attempt to making pesto, chopping and canning. I don’t really spend much time in the kitchen since I married a chef.
Travis, my 14-year old chef-wannabe said: “Awesome pesto, Mom. This stuff’s better than that stuff from the store!” ‘Nuff said!
Here are the links to the sites I used:
For the article on the Italian Grandmother: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001570.html
Ina Garten’s large pesto recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/pesto-recipe/index.html