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I have been making pesto for so long that I have gotten to the point where I just throw everything in until it looks right, but when I first started I used Marcella Hazan's formula from The Classic Italian Cookbook. I omit the butter she suggests---I just like the texture better without it. I also use a food processor, which I know some view as heresy, but life is too short, etc. Hazan also has a formula for making a base, which I believe consists of basil, oil and salt, that you can freeze and then use to make pesto later. I have done this and it works beautifully.

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Let's talk about taking care of basil once it's purchased. I've started to put it in water (stems in the water), in a container in the fridge....but still, after 24 hours it's already browning and drying out.....anything else I should be doing, or... ?

Put in a glass of water in the fridge and cover with a bag. I do this with all my herbs and they last for weeks.

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Let's talk about taking care of basil once it's purchased.  I've started to put it in water (stems in the water), in a container in the fridge....but still, after 24 hours it's already browning and drying out.....anything else I should be doing, or... ?

Put in a glass of water in the fridge and cover with a bag. I do this with all my herbs and they last for weeks.

dont you do like all other herbs? wash, dry well, wrap in paper towel, put in open plastic bag, put in fridge?

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Basically, my desire to make pesto was born of a desire to have basil available all the time, and specifically the wonderful bush basil I've been buying and eating like crazy.

 

But if that's really all I want to do, how about if I don't make pesto? Rather, I'll just make chopped basil and olive oil mush, and keep it that way... ? You think I need to "can" it? Or just freeze it, like I would with pesto, or... ?

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Let's talk about taking care of basil once it's purchased.  I've started to put it in water (stems in the water), in a container in the fridge....but still, after 24 hours it's already browning and drying out.....anything else I should be doing, or... ?

Put in a glass of water in the fridge and cover with a bag. I do this with all my herbs and they last for weeks.

dont you do like all other herbs? wash, dry well, wrap in paper towel, put in open plastic bag, put in fridge?

Huh?

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Rather, I'll just make chopped basil and olive oil mush, and keep it that way... ?

Marcella Hazan suggests making a pesto base with the chopped basil, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, freezing that, and adding the butter and cheese after it has defrosted for a much fresher taste. When I do that, I freeze the base in serving sizes for two, to facilitate de-frosting.

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You think I need to "can" it? Or just freeze it, like I would with pesto, or... ?

I've mentioned this before, and I don't know how great the risk is, but it's usually suggested that you do not keep vegetables in oil without thouroughly heating them first because the anaerobic environment encourages the bacterium responsible of botulism.

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Glyn do you think that caveat applies to the freezing of pesto base, too? I've done this countless times, at Marcella's suggestion. She has a background in biology (not biochemistry, but still) and would seem to know about such things. The freezing suggestion appeared in her first cookbook, more than 20 years ago, and has never been edited out. Freezing seems different from canning. The containers, while tightly closed, are not airtight in the same way that allows botulism to grow.

 

Normally, if you are canning vegetables, although why anyone would do this nowadays is beyond me, you must process them under pressure and then as a precaution, the old books says, you should boil the vegetable for 15 minutes before eating.

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I was out the other night and saw a 'bajito' on a drink list...a riff on the mojito. We were enjoying a nice bottle of champagne so I didn't try one. Anyone had one? I presume one just substitutes basil for mint?

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