One of my favorite rituals in early fall is freezing annual herbs, including basil, cilantro, chives, dill, and parsley, as well as homemade pesto. Freezing herbs and pesto is totally worth the (minimal) effort because you can infuse soup, stews, and sauces with garden-fresh flavor throughout the winter.
How to Freeze Pesto
I like to freeze pesto in a Beaba Multiportion—a silicone container that comes with a lid and is divided into 1/4 cup portions. To freeze pesto, fill up each cell of the Multiportion with pesto, pop on the plastic lid, and stick it in the freezer. Once the pesto is frozen, remove the Beaba from the freezer, turn it upside down, and press the bottom of each portion. Neat 1/4 cup servings of pesto slide right out! I then wrap them up individually in plastic wrap and store them in a lidded glass container in the freezer.
Of course, a Beaba is merely a handy gadget, not a kitchen essential. You can also freeze pesto portions using kitchen tools you most likely have on hand. Simply line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion out 1/4-cup mounds of pesto on the sheet and stick it in the freezer. Once the mounds of pesto freeze solid, remove them from the freezer. Wrap and store the pesto in the same way as described above. When you are ready to use the pesto, remove it from the freezer about an hour before you plan to use it to give the sauce time to defrost, or pop it into the microwave for a few seconds.
See also: Grilled Whitefish With Cilantro Pesto
How to Make Frozen Herb Purées
I freeze smaller portions of herbs in a silicone ice cube tray. First, make an herb purée by blending 1/2 cup of herb leaves (stems removed) with 3/4 cup olive oil until a loose purée forms. Then fill the cubes of an ice tray with purée and slide the trays into the freezer. Once the herb cubes are frozen, pop them out of the cells, wrap them individually in plastic, and store them in labeled, lidded containers in the freezer.
I like to defrost the cubes and stir them into mayonnaise or Vegenaise for a tasty sandwich spread. You can also drop frozen cubes right into soups, stews, and sauces, or whisk defrosted cubes into a vinaigrette.
See also: Cooking With Herbs