The Food Lab: Making Pesto or Curry Paste? The Freezer Is Your Friend

The freezer often evokes ideas of ruining flavor and texture, but in the case of basil, it can be a savior to both of those. The idea is that using a mortar and pestle causes the cells to crush and pulverize. That is the basic idea of freezing. The ice crystals expand and rupture the leaves to release the flavor of the basil. In essence, it does the work for you to easily incorporate that item into your next sauce.

Key Takeaways:

  • The pesto made in the mortar and pestle was definitely the best of the three, boasting a creamy, emulsified texture and really bright, vibrant basil flavor
  • The batch made from fresh basil in the mini chopper was easily the worst.
  • If you’re willing to put in the elbow grease and pound your pastes with a mortar and pestle, then freezing aromatics won’t make your stuff much better.

“So, I figured, if freezing causes cells to rupture, and rupturing cells is our goal when making curry pastes and pestos, could it actually improve the results?”

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