Pesto sauce is considered one of the most famous condiments in the world and its history goes back to mid-19th century in Liguria. Its preparation method originally consisted of pounding and smashing leaves mixed with other ingredients (usually raw garlic, salt, and olive oil) in a marble mortar with pestelludi wood (which is what gives the sauce its name). Nowadays you can virtually smash it with any other type of mortar and pestle, though you could order a Ligurian or Genovese set to boast. In the end, pesto is very easy to make and it’s packed with antioxidants, albeit also high in calories, so those with fitness concerns should probably eat it scarcely. If you have too much pesto sauce on the counter and are worried that some of it might be wasted in the short term, these questions come to mind. Can you freeze pesto sauce? How long does pesto sauce last in the fridge?
Yes, you can freeze pesto sauce, but you may have to tweak it a bit in order to revive its original consistency. In any case, freezing it does not take too much time or effort, and it’s guaranteed to last for a long time in optimal quality.
Some people find that the best way to freeze pesto sauce is by transferring it into ice cube tray slots, considering that the average slot size makes for a perfect-sized portion. Afterward, pour a small drop of olive oil into each slot to coat the pesto’s surface. This way, you’ll protect the sauce from the oxidation caused by the freezer’s cold air, thus retaining its fresh green color.
Once the cubes are frozen, transfer the trays into airtight freezer bags or containers, making sure to squeeze out all the air from the inside before sealing and storing them in the freezer. You can optionally remove the cubes from the tray and place them gently in the container or bag, although you must do it carefully so as to not have them stuck together.
It might depend on the ingredients you used. Also, if you didn’t blanch the basil leaves in boiling salt water beforehand, the condiment will experience degradation in the short term. Nevertheless, the pesto sauce should not suffer considerable damage in its flavor or texture and you should be able to use it in soups or pasta.
It’s not recommended to refreeze pesto sauce because green vegetables react badly upon constant thawing and refreezing, so the sauce’s texture will eventually turn mushy and soggy. It’s always better to use the pesto ice cubes needed for the day.
Nonetheless, if the pesto was thawed in the fridge and was not exposed to the “danger zone” for a prolonged period, you could try your luck and store the unused pesto again in the freezer.
Homemade pesto sauce can last up to 5 days in the fridge at a temperature of 40º F or below. Beyond that point, the sauce will turn bad.
In the freezer, pesto sauce won’t go to waste, but it might get an ugly appearance after approximately 3 months. If the basil leaves were blanched, the pesto may maintain its best quality for up to 6 months. Keep in mind that, after a month or two, the color may turn brownish, but you shouldn’t worry too much, as the flavor and texture will mostly remain the same.
If for whatever reason you need to defrost pesto sauce (to use as a dip, for example), you’d be glad to know that thawing pesto is not really as difficult as is the case with other sauces or foods, since it doesn’t freeze too hard and the ingredients are mostly fresh. In the fridge, it will fully defrost in 1 hour. If you decide to put the cubes into a leak-proof bag and immerse it in cold water, it will take considerably less time, while with the microwave’s defrost method, you’ll have defrosted pesto in less than 20 seconds!
After thawing, it’s good to stir the sauce constantly in a bowl to restore its smoothness.
You could throw the frozen pesto sauce cubes straight from the freezer into a pot or pan full of pasta at low heat and stir until it melts. However, in this case, it’s advised to add some drops of olive oil to revive the sauce’s creaminess.
You can also add the cubes to soups or stews, with the only downside being that you’ll need to cook the recipe for a bit longer. This method works great for chicken pesto soup or Italian beef stew, to give some notable examples.