I have two large planter boxes at the edge of our patio that are where I grow my herbs, along with a long thin veggie patch against a fence. Luckily this space is enough for me to play around with some different herbs and veggies.
Giving the long thin veggie patch a bit of a spruce:
Lately we’ve had a surfeit of basil in one of the planter boxes (the other is full of mint) and after some prompting we decided we’d have a go at making pesto.
After picking and washing a heap (and returning a few little spiders back to the patch) we decided we’d try to make a couple of varieties.
The first one we started with basil in a stick blender attachment, and poured in olive oil. It mulched the basil more than anything else, but as we added pine nuts it started to blend down a bit more. Adding some spring onions as a test didn’t help with the mulch-like consistency, though. That wasn’t a great experiment, especially when I didn’t close the blender attachment properly and got it all over myself, the kitchen bench and floor…
The second batch started with four cloves of garlic, and some olive oil. This went into a nice creamy paste quickly, and we added some more pine nuts and then started to add in some basil. This created a much creamier pesto, which went a vibrant light green pretty quickly. Unfortunately, 4 cloves of garlic is a bit much… it’s more like a garlic sauce.
On an earlier trip out that day I’d bought a couple of flip-top seal jars, and after they’d been washed and dried out I loaded up the basil into one each.
I was pretty chuffed with this, but anywhere where there is air (you can see the bubbles) went brown within minutes . I had poured some oil on top to help seal it away from the air but didn’t think about these little air pockets.
A week later we’ve been using the pesto in various dishes (pasta, mainly) but each time we have to scoop out the unsightly brown bits. It’s a bit of a pain, but it doesn’t take away from the taste. The next trick we will try is to blanche the basil and dry it before we turn it into pesto – this should help as the heat will destroy the enzymes that react with oxygen to cause the brown discolouration.
It’s not like we don’t have heaps more basil to test it on, anyway…