This Simple Step Will Keep Your Homemade Pesto Vibrantly Green Longer

published Jun 26, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

While recently testing pesto-making methods for a Skills Showdown, I came across a pesto recipe from Ligurian chef Paolo Laboa, whose family recipe won the 2008 Pesto World Championship. In the article he said chilling the tools used to make pesto slows oxidation, which is what turns pesto from a vibrant enticing green to a less appetizing, muddy army green.

He makes his pesto in a blender or food processor, and he recommends keeping the bowl and the blades cold before starting. If you can’t place them in your refrigerator, then fill it with ice water while you prep the ingredients.

He wasn’t the only chef who mentioned chilling the tools for perfect pesto. I also found this YouTube video of Michelin starred chef Mauro Ricciardi making pesto using a marble mortar and wooden pestle. In the video Ricciardi says the mortar should be very cold and that it is typically made in marble to keep the sauce at the perfect temperature.

I had to try this out for myself. I made two batches of pesto in a food processor and two by hand in a Genovese marble mortar with wooden pestle — once with the tools at room temperature and once after placing the tools in the refrigerator overnight and removing them from the fridge just before making the pesto.

The marble mortar kept the color the best out of all the methods, but both chilled versions held their color longer than the room-temperature versions. So whatever method you use for making pesto, to keep your pesto brighter for longer, ice your equipment or keep it in the refrigerator overnight! And here’s another tip from Kitchn Editor Sheela Prakash for keeping pesto green longer. And, finally, to keep your pesto fresh for months, learn how to freeze pesto.