Bulk pesto-making equipment

16
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Joined Aug 22, 2018
Howdy,

I'm looking for a better way to make 10+ quarts of pesto at a time. The robot coupe isn't cutting it (literally & figuratively) because I rapidly blanch the basil by pouring boiling water over it, and there's not enough texture left to be chopped by the spinning blades.

I'm wondering if my meat grinder could do it. If not, is there such a thing as a motorized mortar & pestle? I don't think a buffalo chopper would work either, since it's essentially the same mechanism as food processor.

Thanks in advance!
Miles
 
283
133
Joined Apr 25, 2017
Add the basil to the other ingredients in the food processor all together - that will give the bulk you need for the proper texture.
 
1,753
493
Joined Aug 15, 2003
We need more details on what you are currently doing that isn't working. Fatcook has a good thought, assuming that you are indeed just trying to process the basil alone.

The meat grinder would probably work, I've done a meat grinder for creamed spinach before so I don't think there would be any issues with basil.

I just don't know what advantage a meat grinder would have over a robotcoupe.

My other thought might be something like a immersion blender, but you'd have to be careful not to over-process.
 
16
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Joined Aug 22, 2018
Add the basil to the other ingredients in the food processor all together - that will give the bulk you need for the proper texture.
Thanks, but that's what I'm trying to avoid having to do. I'd have to make 6 or 8 individual batches that way, and that's just too time-consuming. I'm sure the right equipment exists, I just need to find it
 
16
2
Joined Aug 22, 2018
We need more details on what you are currently doing that isn't working. Fatcook has a good thought, assuming that you are indeed just trying to process the basil alone.

The meat grinder would probably work, I've done a meat grinder for creamed spinach before so I don't think there would be any issues with basil.

I just don't know what advantage a meat grinder would have over a robotcoupe.

My other thought might be something like a immersion blender, but you'd have to be careful not to over-process.

Thanks for your response. If creamed spinach works in a meat grinder then I bet blanched basil would too!

I am trying to process the pesto alone. I've found that if I try to process everything together I'm left with chunks of parm, garlic & pine nuts unprocessed, which I'd rather avoid.

The robotcoupe isn't chopping the basil, since it's too soft. Seems like the blades are just catching & spinning whole leaves, leaving them completely unprocessed. Any little bit of stem stays whole. I'm hoping some sort of grinder could break everything down better. Does that answer your question?
 
1,753
493
Joined Aug 15, 2003
One point of confusion seems to be that you keep referring to "pesto" as chopped basil, when in fact pesto is the finished sauce that you make with the pinenuts, cheese, basil, oil and garlic. You aren't trying to process "pesto," you're trying to process basil for pesto.

So, do you just store the basil in the freezer, pull out, then process with the rest of the ingredients? What is your step(s) beyond just chopping basil?

But yes, I think the meat grinder might work for your needs. You'll want to make sure the basil is very dry before you feed it through.

FYI, a burr mixer is one of those "boat motor" type immersion blenders. It would allow you to basically process the entire batch of pesto in a large bucket. You'd have to be very careful not to over-process the batch if you went this route. It's not a bad idea at all, it just might give your pesto a smoother texture...but maybe you want that, I don't know.
 
1,753
493
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Also, I'll add....

Cooking and making good food takes time. Making 2+ gallons of pesto from scratch takes time. There may not be an "easy" way to do it...this is why we cook. We do things the hard way because they are (usually) better than the stuff we can buy. So yeah, it takes a little time, but the results are 100x better than buying premade pesto from sysco or whatever.

Maybe 6-8 batches in the robotcoupe is the best way.
 
16
2
Joined Aug 22, 2018
One point of confusion seems to be that you keep referring to "pesto" as chopped basil, when in fact pesto is the finished sauce that you make with the pinenuts, cheese, basil, oil and garlic. You aren't trying to process "pesto," you're trying to process basil for pesto.

So, do you just store the basil in the freezer, pull out, then process with the rest of the ingredients? What is your step(s) beyond just chopping basil?

But yes, I think the meat grinder might work for your needs. You'll want to make sure the basil is very dry before you feed it through.

FYI, a burr mixer is one of those "boat motor" type immersion blenders. It would allow you to basically process the entire batch of pesto in a large bucket. You'd have to be very careful not to over-process the batch if you went this route. It's not a bad idea at all, it just might give your pesto a smoother texture...but maybe you want that, I don't know.
I process the pine nuts, garlic, & parm separately, then mix them with the S+P, EVOO & processed basil.

I don't freeze basil. In fact, it doesn't even get refrigerated until after it becomes pesto. My farmers bring it straight to me from the field in the morning. It's one of the things that makes it such great pesto.

Generally I process all the non-basil items first thing in the morning. When the basil arrives I stem it, blanch it, process it with EVOO, and mix it with everything else. Package, refrigerate, and sell within 24 hours.

Drying the basil has been an issue too. I usually wring it out by hand, but I'm certainly open to ideas! I wonder if a salad spinner would do the trick...


As to doing things the "easy way," I couldn't agree more! If I could make it all with a mortar & pestle I would. I just want to make sure I'm using the right tools, because the food processor isn't making a good pesto. I need to get my basil chopped more finely than it can handle.

Thank you!
 
1,753
493
Joined Aug 15, 2003
OK, that was a good explanation, thanks.

I think you should try the meat grinder idea and if that doesn't work try a blender. Just be careful not to overblend.

I didn't realize it was for retail sale, I assumed you were making it in bulk and then storing it for the line, which I why I assumed you must freeze it.
 
2,601
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
I wouldn't make any more pesto at one time than I used in a day. Fresh is fresh ... everything else is not. I also don't get the blanching of the basil. Nope ... not doing that. Everything should go in the robotcoupe in 1 step. Blitz and you're done.
 
1,753
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Blanching the basil helps make the color pop more and helps it retain the color longer. It looks like OP is selling his pesto retail, so I assume the need for it to retain color for a day or so is important.

I think you end up losing some flavor when you blanch, so I usually don't.
 
283
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Joined Apr 25, 2017
I've found that if I try to process everything together I'm left with chunks of parm, garlic & pine nuts unprocessed, which I'd rather avoid.
Perhaps process the parm, garlic and pine nuts together since they seem to need a longer run, and add the basil at the end. It seems like it wouldn't be much more time consuming to make several batches than processing everything separately and then combining them.

Drying the basil has been an issue too. I usually wring it out by hand, but I'm certainly open to ideas! I wonder if a salad spinner would do the trick...
A large ricer should work for that, it does well with spinach.
 
2,832
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
Drying the basil? Well I guess if you are using fresh plants you can just rinse and hang them. In my ignorance I would have guessed growers would offer rinsed, so many greens come pre-rinsed.
 
1,753
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Drying the basil? Well I guess if you are using fresh plants you can just rinse and hang them. In my ignorance I would have guessed growers would offer rinsed, so many greens come pre-rinsed.
He's talking about squeezing the basil dry after it's blanched, not making dried basil like you'd get in the spice aisle
 

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