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Old 07-20-2014, 11:10 AM   #1
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Pesto

Okay, so I've been making pesto since about 1983 from Elizabeth David's recipe and never had any problems. Today, I made my second batch this year from the rampant basil plant on my kitchen window sill (I'm thinking of naming it "Audrey"). The first batch a couple of weeks ago was fine. This one is very bitter.

I used:-
Basil - . Only fresh young green leaves with no damage or infestation and no pesticide used. Washed and dried before use.
Parm regg - freshly cut from a chunk in the local deli which has a good turn over
Evoo - an Italian brand I've been using for some time. New bottle so in view of the bitterness in this batch of pesto, I tasted a little on a piece of dry bread and on a teaspoon and it tasted fine in both cases.
Pine nuts - New package - sampled them before adding to the mix and they were fine
Clove of garlic - bulb bought the other day and tasted OK in other things I've used it for including raw in salad dressing

All whizzed up in the FP.

Never had the bitterness problem before. The internet says:

1. It's caused by the use of the FP - I've been making pesto in the same machine for 30 years and not had this happen before. Plenty of recipes around which suggest using an FP.

2. It's caused by Evoo - should use "ordinary" olive oil - ED and every other cookery book I have (and you know how many of those I have!) says to use Evoo and I haven't had any problems with it in pesto before.

So. Any thoughts on why this batch is bitter and any suggestions for toning the bitterness down? Would stirring some more Evoo into it improve matters? It's fairly thick and could stand a little dilution with oil. A pinch of sugar?

I was planning on using some tonight and freezing the rest but should I should write it off to experience, chuck it out and go and buy a jar from Sainsbury's?
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:16 AM   #2
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I use the food processor too and never made it bitter.

My first thoughts were oil and nuts, but since you tasted them first I am left scratching my head ...

Did you taste the basil ?
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:17 AM   #3
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Bummer, MC. How does the basil taste by itself? Basil plants can differ in flavor.

You might also try mixing in a different type of nut, like walnuts or a few peanuts. They would be sweeter than pinenuts. And since it's so thick, a bit more oil probably wouldn't hurt, maybe a totally neutral oil. More cheese?
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
Bummer, MC. How does the basil taste by itself? Basil plants can differ in flavor.

You might also try mixing in a different type of nut, like walnuts or a few peanuts. They would be sweeter than pinenuts. And since it's so thick, a bit more oil probably wouldn't hurt, maybe a totally neutral oil. More cheese?
The basil tastes fine and as I said the first batch I made from the same plant was normal. Completely flummoxed.

More cheese is something I hadn't thought of. Might try that but I prefer it with all pine nuts despite a lot of modern recipes suggesting walnuts - it's not pesto then, is it.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:45 PM   #5
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My recipe has parsley in it. Is there any other ingredient you may have forgotten to use? Salt reduces the bitter flavors in foods - do you usually not use salt?
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:01 PM   #6
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Pesto

I think the only thing you can rule out is using the FP. AFAIK, that's how most of us make pesto, and it seems to work.

I keep coming back to the basil. Wonder if the second pickings got bitter, even though the first batch was fine. I've used parsley in combo with basil in pesto as well.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
I think the only thing you can rule out is using the FP. AFAIK, that's how most of us make pesto, and it seems to work.

I keep coming back to the basil. Wonder if the second pickings got bitter, even though the first batch was fine.
It occurs to me that last week I fed the plant with some plant food which said it as suitable for edible plants. That's the only difference as I didn't use the older leaves.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
I use the food processor too and never made it bitter.

My first thoughts were oil and nuts, but since you tasted them first I am left scratching my head ...

Did you taste the basil ?
Exactly what I was thinking. The FP has never made my pesto bitter and I'm very sensitive to bitter.
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Old 07-20-2014, 06:25 PM   #9
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Thanks for your input, folks.
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Old 07-20-2014, 07:50 PM   #10
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We still haven't figured it out yet, have we?
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