Members Only       Newsletter 

Canning Pesto Sauce

by Sally

Can pesto sauce be canned? if the sauce didn't pass through pressured can, is it safe to chill and store it for 2 to 3 months?


Since I have no experience with canning pesto I'll refer to National Center for Home Food Preservation.

"Pesto is an uncooked seasoning mixture of herbs, usually including fresh basil, and some oil. It may be frozen for long term storage; there are no home canning recommendations."

From this I'd say the only long term storage solution would be to freeze it.

Comments for Canning Pesto Sauce

Click here to add your own comments

Storing pesto.
by: Anonymous

Pesto will keep for over a year in the Refer.
My Sicilian Grandmother has been doing it for years. Saving her summer time crop of Basil to give away as gifts come Christmas time.

Our family has been saving pesto for years , know has become sick yet. after one year in the Refer. it still taste SOOOO good !

Pesto preserving
by: Sean

When we make Pesto at the end of growing season, we keep in the refrigerator. After making the pesto and letting it chill for a couple of days I will open the jar back up and add a 1/8 inch layer of olive oil over the sauce.

I have read that olive oil was used as a preservative back in ancient times. Like the previous post, it's fresh tasting and no one has gotten sick.

canning pesto - bad idea
by: Anonymous

Fwiw , garlic is one of the leading causes of botulism in the us. This is why people are instructed to never store garlic infused olive oil for any extended period of time...ditto for pesto. Freezing is the method most often recommended, and ice cube trays make great portion sizes...

Frozen Pesto Sauce
by: Barbara S

I have been freezing pesto sauce for decades. Using baby food jars seems to be the right size for my family. I use one or two jars each time I need the sauce. I make enough for one year plus a few extra. Use the sauce on pasta or toss roasted potatoes with the sauce during the last 15 minutes of baking.
Barbara S.

Putting botulism in perspective.
by: Anonymous

I couldnt find anything about cases of botulism from garlic. What I did find is most cases were in Alaska "atributed to traditional aboriginal food." Other than that canned asparagus was #1.

If you omit the infant botulism caused by immature digestion and wound botulism the number of food borne botulism was one case per ten million people or less.

If a recipe has been used for generations that has proven it to be safe if the ingredients are not changed.

Here's an excerpt form Wikipedia on botulism:

"Between 1990 and 2000, the Centers for Disease Control reported 263 individual 'cases' from 160 foodborne botulism 'events' in the United States with a case-fatality rate of 4%. Thirty-nine percent (103 cases and 58 events) occurred in Alaska, all of which were attributable to traditional Alaska aboriginal foods. In the lower 49 states, home-canned food was implicated in 70 (91%) events with canned asparagus being the most numerous cause. Two restaurant-associated outbreaks affected 25 persons. The median number of cases per year was 23 (range 17–43), the median number of events per year was 14 (range 9–24). The highest incidence rates occurred in Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. All other states had an incidence rate of 1 case per ten million people or less.[19]ten

The number of cases of food borne and infant botulism has changed little in recent years, but wound botulism has increased because of the use of black tar heroin, especially in California.[20]

Canned Pesto
by: Rick in Oregon

I see canned Pesto sauce in the grocery stores all the time, so it must be safe.

I plan to try canning some at home. If Successful I will post my results and a recipe. Wish me luck.


Store bought pesto vs canned??
by: Tami

I want to can my own pesto, but the mixed reviews have me confused. You can buy jared pesto sauce at the market.....why not can yourself??

I would assume that the water bath required for sealing the jars would be part of the difference between an "infused" oil stored in a jar or bottle in the fridge. I would think some form of heating would be required to eliminate the bacteria, etc. Would love more feed back from those with experience in canning pesto.

Thanks, Tami

Canning Pesto
by: Anonymous

I put up a large batch of pesto using basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and olive oil.

I used the standard canning process, made 20 half pint jars. This was about 10 years ago and it lasted for about 4 years before we ate the last of it.

The last jar was just as tasty as the first. I know everyone recommends freezing but I had great success with canning.

Pesto, canning and acids
by: Anonymous

From what I am seeing about canning pesto, I see these themes:

1. Freezing is recommended rather than canning.

2. Pesto is available commercially canned. I have some in the cabinet.

3. Acidulation seems to be the key, with citric acid second to vinegar as a provider of acidity. Another ingredient passing acidity is often wine. Wines generally have a pH between 3.0 and 4.0, but there are outliers.

4. The goal is a pH of 4.6 or lower, which will certainly modify the flavor profile.

5. The big fear is botulina; processing fresh, washing hands and utensils as well as countertop will help but NOT prevent contamination.

6. Typical lists of contents include, in volume order, basil, evoo, parmesan, canola oil, almonds and pine nuts, salt, garlic, lactic acid, wine, citric or ascorbic acid.

7. People have eaten marginal foods forever, and some survive while others...

store-canned pesto
by: Anonymous

You can find many kinds of canned items at the store that are not safe to can at home. Commercial pressure canners reach temperatures that we could never reach at home with our little pressure canners.

Please don't be foolish enough to assume that if it's canned at the store, then it can be canned at home.

If the canning rules say NOT to can pesto or pumpkin or squash or whatever, DON'T do it.

There are intelligent, dedicated scientists that study home canning and make the regulations and limitations available to people like us. So unless you're a professional canning scientist, I suggest you follow their recommendations.

Freeze your pesto.

Sharon says..... Thank You! I agree.

To Rick in Oregon
by: Rachel

So were you successful or did the botulism get you? If your canning worked, would you please share the recipe? I have a fairly successful basil plant that I can't keep up with, and a wildly successful oregano plant that is now bigger than my kids -- drying and making pesto are the two things I've read most about and plan to try, and I'd like to can the pesto since storing jars in the pantry would be much better than filling up my freezer.

Thanks in advance for anyone else's advice, too!

Rachel, thank you for your question and comment to Rick. However if Rick did have a recipe he wanted to share I'm afraid I would not publish it. I do not believe canning pesto would be a safe practice. Sharon

Pesto Canning...questionable
by: MMM Foodies

A professor in my college Logic class, years ago, taught us that it is not logical to assume that just because the sun has come up every morning in the past, that it will do so tomorrow. That is dealing with likelihood and statistics.
I came here looking for an answer to the same question that started this thread. I have come to the conclusion that home canning is too risky for pesto sauce and, it seems, not really necessary if you have refrigerator or freezer space. Another poster also pointed out a valid objection that also influenced my decision to abandon the pesto canning idea. Pesto is a raw combination of ingredients and processing for canning would require pressure canning to have any chance at being safe. The pressure canning process would totally change the flavor and texture of the
sauce. I have trouble believing that it would be a good change. I'm just going to make room for another container in the fridge!

First Time Pesto
by: Herbal Lady

Thanks for all the input. I will make some with my grandson tomorrow and probably freeze it in little jars and give in my Christmas baskets.

I found this informative--
by: June Taylor

Thank you June, I checked it out and want to add my disclaimer and warning. Be sure and read the entire topic and comments. The original poster commented later that she changed her mind about canning the pesto and would recommend freezing it. Also Breanne has an informative comment.

I don't recommend canning pesto. Unless I see where this has been tested and shown to be safe against botulism, I won't change my mind. :)

Canning Success
by: Anonymous

I have personally canned my own pesto with ingredients from my garden with great success. I canned enough that it lasted nearly 3 years and the last jar was just as delicious as the first. I would not hesitate to do it again. This last year I used a food storage vacuum system and froze the bags. I much prefer the canned over the frozen.

Good pesto freezing technique
by: John

My wife and I have grown basil and made pesro for 25 years.
One year we froze over 20 lbs worth.

We used to use ice cube trays and then place the cubes in a zip lock bag. Ok, but prone to freezer burn. We have used the following method for years.

Pull of a piece of plastic wrap about 12 to 14 inches in length.

Place in front of you with the long side goint horizontially.

Place about a half cup of pesto in middle of plastic wrap.

Fold side closest to you just to the opposie site of the pesto.

Then roll wrap and pesto until you reach upper edge.

Bunch up far edges hold tightly and spin pesto. The plastic wrap will tighten, driving out all air and you will have a "tight little sausage" of pesto.

The ends can now be folded over the pesto packet and wrap
Around each other to seal.


Eating Raw Garlic & Botulism
by: Anonymous

Eating Raw Garlic & Botulism

Canning v. Freezing
by: Anonymous

I tried canning, and the pesto lost its great, bright green color. The taste was okay, but we do eat with our eyes first!! - so the color was important to me.

I now buy jelly jars with plastic lids. You can also freeze with metal lids, but I felt "safer" somehow with the plastic lids. I double my recipe, yielding several pints. I immediately wipe the jars down, lid them, and place them in the freezer. The quicker you get it into the freezer, the longer the vibrant green will last!

I too read about the ice tray trick, but the portions are much too small. I use about one cup to one lb of pasta (and sometimes a little extra), so 8 oz jelly jars are perfect for us. For bruschetta we may not use an entire jar. I made enough one summer to last three years, and I can tell no difference in the quality. The last is always as good as the first.

Still Alive
by: Kyla

We've stored our Pesto in the fridge now for 1 year and 4 months. Each time we used it we scraped away a very thin layer of brown to reveal glorious green beneath. After we use it we top it back up with fresh olive oil. It's tasted perfect each time and neither of us has been ill

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Canning Questions.

Online Canning Classes

Learn Home Canning

Discover how to fill your pantry with garden fresh produce to feed your family healthy nutritious food. So many people want to start canning but are stuck.  They don’t know where to start.  

Simply Canning School is the tool you need to get moving.  

The Legal Stuff

by Sharon Peterson, Copyright © 2009-2019

Privacy   |   Advertising Policies

Information given has not been evaluated by the FDA or USDA, you are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

See my Full Disclaimer here.

Finding Your Way Around

Advertise with Simply Canning

Work with me - Contribute

Contact Sharon

About Sharon

Site Updates

Site Map

Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Join The Community

Simply Canning is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to