Should you blanch basil for pesto?

Whether or not you should blanch basil for pesto may surprise you! Find out why this simple preparation step can enhance and change flavors in this post.

The main ingredient in pesto, basil, is known for its health effects. It’s a good source of magnesium, which promotes heart health by helping blood vessels and muscles relax thereby improving blood flow.

One of the key steps (I personally agree) in preparing the basil for delicious sauce, especially the classic version, is blanching it. But why do we blanch basil for pesto, and how do we do it? Keep reading to find out!

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    Why do you blanch basil for pesto?

    There are a few reasons why we blanch basil for pesto. One of the main reasons is to set the color of the basil and prevent it from turning an ugly olive drab color. There is an enzyme in fresh basil that causes it to oxidize, that’s why even when basil is bruised, as it will be when you make pesto, it turns very dark green, almost black. Blanching deactivates that enzyme stops the oxidization from happening and keeps your basil bright green.

    Blanching basil for pesto is also a good way to preserve the flavor and nutrients of the basil. When you blanch basil, you are essentially “setting” the flavor, by preventing the breakdown of enzymes that can lead to nutrient loss. This means that it will not fade or lose its potency over time. Plus, blanched basil emulsifies more easily, resulting in a smooth sauce.

    Let me set this straight, you don’t need to blanch basil to make good pesto. I’m sure some of you reading this have made countless batches of pesto and never boiled a pot of water to make it. Whether you blanch the basil or not, it still works out perfectly! The pesto is green, flavorful, and perfectly smooth.

    How to blanch basil for pesto

    Blanching basil for pesto is a quick and easy process, and it can be done in just a few simple steps:

    1. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
    2. Wash and drain the basil.
    3. Bring a pot filled with water to a boil.
    4. Prepare a bowl filled with water and ice.
    5. Plunge the basil leaves into the boiling water for 5 seconds and immediately remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. This will stop the cooking process.
    6. You can now proceed with making your pesto as you normally would, using the blanched basil.

    How to keep pesto green

    As we have discussed above, blanching basil makes your pesto stay green longer, but for those of you who do not wish to do so, there are other, less labor-intensive methods of making sure it retains its color while maintaining great flavor.

    Use fresh, dry basil. The greener your basil will start, the greener your pesto will be. It’s also important to make sure the basil is completely dry before throwing it in the blender. If it’s wet, the pesto will be watery and cloudy.

    Press the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto. This prevents the air from oxidizing the surface of the pesto. Simply lay a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the pesto so none of it is exposed to the air.

    Or top it with a thin layer of olive oil. This technique also prevents the air from oxidizing the surface of the pesto. Simply pour a small amount of olive oil on top to create a barrier, and make sure to wrap the container in plastic wrap or secure with an airtight lid to prevent it from taking on unwanted flavors in the fridge.

    In conclusion, blanching basil for pesto is an important step that helps to set the color, remove dirt and debris, and preserve the flavor and nutrients of the basil. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can easily blanch basil for pesto at home and enjoy this delicious sauce any time you like.

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