|Fermented Pesto finished to Stage Two|
The pesto recipe I most love is one I called My Favorite Pesto, and one I have continued to make year after year, because it tastes great to me and serves my purposes. Since learning about fermenting foods, I have seen that people ferment herbs, herbal flowers and many other tender greens that I would not have thought to put to this purpose. There are things that can ferment, and there are some that cannot. Cheese is already fermented, and if it is going to be added to pesto, I felt that using it from the beginning would be illogical. I could be wrong, but for that reason I left it out. I also left out the oil and butter I usually add, as they would give rise to the possibility of botulism (read about that here) if the oil sat on the surface.
|Finished Pesto below, fresh batch above|
So ultimately, the idea was to process the basil and parsley, salt, garlic, pine nuts or walnuts and some whey and allow that mixture to ferment, and only then add the remaining ingredients (cheese, butter and oil) to finish off the pesto. I have a very vigorously growing basil plant and I cut some of the stems and brought them in to make the first batch. I didn't quite have enough parsley to use the half and half mix of basil and parsley that is the norm in my regular pesto recipe. I started with 2 cups of very firmly packed basil leaves and one packed cup of parsley. I had intended to add some pine nuts to the initial Stage One ferment, but completely forgot to add them in, so instead they went into the mixture yesterday as I finished the pesto.
|New Stage One batch of Pesto, ready to Ferment|
2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
1 cup parsley leaves, firmly packed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 ounces / 6 tablespoons whey (drained from plain yogurt containing live cultures)
2 - 3 tablespoons more whey to cover the surface
|Color difference in Stage One and Stage Two Ferment|
3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, optional
2 - 3 total ounces good quality Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter (this makes it pasty and nicer to spread)
1/4 cup olive oil
Remove the weights from the jar of fermented Stage One pesto. If the whey has stayed on top, some may be poured off to use in the next batch of fermented pesto. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the fermented mixture to add to the next batch, if starting right away.
Place the nuts and cheese into the food processor and process until fine. Scrape the remainder of the ferment into the processor with the butter and oil and process until well combined. Pour into a clean jar and refrigerate.
Yesterday was when I opted to finish Stage Two of the pesto and refrigerate. I had another new batch of basil leaves and parsley ready to go, so I did set aside about 1 tablespoon of the liquid (whey) from the top of the jar, plus one tablespoon of the actual basil ferment to "jump-start" my next batch. This time my basil plant had grown so much that I ended up with a full 4-cup measure filled to bursting with clean basil leaves. I used 2 well-packed cups of parsley, 6 cloves of garlic, 4 tablespoons of pine nuts, 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice (not normally added to pesto, but lime juice is supposed to be good for fermentation). I added in a smaller amount of whey, along with the tablespoon of liquid reserved from the top of the previous jar, and the tablespoon of fermented pesto mixture. All of this well processed, I started over in a new, clean jar, topped with weights and some whey and it is now on the counter, covered to keep dark, and we shall see how this batch comes out!
The fermented mixture with its added ingredients does not taste much different from freshly made pesto without the fermenting time. Still, for whatever it may be worth, it seems a tasty experiment!
My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.