Bright Green Basil Pesto

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Joined Dec 30, 2015
Hi Everybody,

We're on our way to a Hurricane Party and I'm bringing a slow cooker full of basil pesto pasta.

I don't like that the fresh basil turns into a blackish color. I know it is air exposure, but I'm wondering if there are ways to maintain color that I don't know about.

The pesto already contains EVO which I suppose adds some protection, but not really.

I have researched the subject and tried adding lemon and/or lime juices. Don't help much (but great for the flavor!). I've also tried parboiling the basil leafs for a couple seconds. All that does is remove flavor.

In the refrigerated pestos citric acid and acerbic acid are listed ingredients. Is that what keeps them green? Isn't that what is in the lemon/lime juices?

Any suggestions are appreciated.

If any of you reading this are in the storm, I hope you are safe.
 
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Fruit Fresh (aka citric acid). It's the only thing that has worked reliably for me - not my first choice of ingredient but does the job well. I've used it making a creamy avocado dressing and it even keeps that from browning.
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Fruit Fresh (aka citric acid). It's the only thing that has worked reliably for me - not my first choice of ingredient but does the job well. I've used it making a creamy avocado dressing and it even keeps that from browning.

Citric acid will turn herbs (especially basil) black.

My advice would be to blanch the basil first, this will set the color. Also use more oil than you think you should, pack it into the container really tight (bang lightly on the counter to get air pockets out) and seal with a bit more oil. This can go in the freezer or for several days in the fridge.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2011
Sub out the pine nuts for pistachios. Granted it is no longer “authentic pesto”, but it is real good and bright green.
 
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Joined Dec 30, 2015
Citric acid will turn herbs (especially basil) black.

My advice would be to blanch the basil first, this will set the color. Also use more oil than you think you should, pack it into the container really tight (bang lightly on the counter to get air pockets out) and seal with a bit more oil. This can go in the freezer or for several days in the fridge.
someday someday , I already did this. Called it parboiling, but it is really blanching. Maybe I blanched too long? The sharp basil flavor was gone gone gone...

I have no problem keeping pesto green in the refrigerator or freezer. The problem is once it is made into some food, like pesto pasta. If it sits just a short time, it changes color.
 
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1,832
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Oh I understand now. Then really, no, there is nothing you can do. Heat + time will always change the color. I wouldn't worry about it, taste is paramount anyways.
 
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For 18 years I grew and processed several hundred basil plants each season. I had to get creative to save most of it.
I made basil pesto but never had an issue of losing the bright green color.
That being said allowing the pesto to sit in the fridge for weeks doesn't bode well either.
I toasted my pine nuts, roasted my garlic, lots of freshly grated Parmesan, and a good EVOO. Salt and pepper to finish.
I also used walnuts, pecans and almonds to sub for the pine nuts.
As was mentioned, there really isn't anything you can do once the pesto leaves the jar and is mixed with something (in this case pasta)
 
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Joined Dec 30, 2015
Thanks everybody!

Now I have lots of experiments to try next Summer. Unfortunately, my last harvest is gone. I am printing this page out as a reminder since I have the same concerns every year.

Just don't get what they put in that bottled stuff that stays green no matter what is done to it. Probably green dye. :eek:
 
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The only way around is to mix it with the pasta right at the table and plate ASAP. - forget about heating it up. One way I transport is put it in a ziplok and remove air via water submersion, cut the tip of the bag then squeeze out onto pasta.

When blanching do so for 15 seconds only then chill and dry.
 
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