Peach Jam and Perfect Pesto for Daring Cooks

Peach Jam

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I have to admit to being a newbie when it comes to food preservation. I’ve never done any canning because it seemed like a big investment to buy the necessary equipment to get started. But recently Ball started selling cute little freezer cups with screw on lids and for some reason, for me, that made it seem like less work and less of an investment and a few months ago, I made my first strawberry freezer jam.

When I saw all of the fabulous peaches at the Farmer’s Market, it seemed like an obvious choice to make peach freezer jam for this challenge. So when I returned home with my big, juicy, delicious peaches, I did a search for a great peach jam recipe and found a reduced sugar Old Fashioned Peach Jam recipe on Megan’s wonderful blog, A Sweet Spoonful. This recipe really lets the peach flavor shine through and I’m so happy to have preserved a taste of summer for a cold winter’s day.

This year in my garden I planted Spicy Globe Basil. I fell in love with this little plant when I saw it at the nursery. Because of the little tiny leaves you don’t need to chop it before you use it.  I’ve enjoyed it in recipes all summer, but when  Bonnie, City Home / Country Home, recently blogged about her favorite pesto recipe, Foster’s Market Pesto, I decided to harvest most of it and make her perfect pesto for the challenge. And I’m so glad I did, because it really is a perfect, classic pesto.

Stop by City Home/ Country Home and check out more of Bonnie’s perfect recipes, including recipes and tips on food preservation, and high altitude baking.

I used Bonnie’s tip and froze the pesto in an ice cube tray and then after it was frozen transferred it to a Ziploc bag. I had enough basil to make one and half times the given recipe, which yielded one ice cube tray full and enough to make Pesto Cheese Ravioli for dinner.

Perfect Pesto for Daring Cooks


  • 2 C. firmly packed basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ¾ C. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ C. roasted pine nuts
  • 1 C. (4 oz.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • *optional: 1 vitamin C tablet (keeps the pesto from going brown)


Place the basil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the garlic and pulse several times to make a rough chop.

Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream down the feed tube, with the motor running. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.

Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and puree about 1 minute longer until the mixture is well blended and smooth. *(Note: If adding a vitamin C tablet, add it along with the pine nuts).

Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use or up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze pesto in ice cube trays. After it is frozen, remove from the trays and store in freezer bags for up to 6 months. Take out only as many cubes as you need.

Cheese Ravioli with Pesto: Cook ravioli (16 oz. ) according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Combined 1/4 cup pesto with 1/4 cup hot pasta water. Pour over ravioli and gently toss.


Foster’s Market Pesto Source: Foster's Market Cookbook

Some great tips from the Daring Cooks’ challenge on Freezing:

Freezing refers to storing foods in airtight containers at 0ºF (-17.8ºC) or lower. Freezing does not kill bad bugs. The cold temperature causes the microorganisms to go into hibernation/suspended animation.

Freezing is the easiest food preservation method, especially with modern freezers. The main pointers for freezing:

1) Freeze foods quickly. Quickly freezing creates smaller ice crystals. Water is a funny substance where water expands when frozen. This means larger ice crystals can puncture cell walls (such as whole berries) so when defrosted you end up with a mushy mass.
2) Try not to freeze too much at once. Typical advice 2 to 3 lbs (1 kg) per cubic foot (28 Liters) of freezer space.
3) Containers should be airtight and leak proof.
4) Minimize air and gaps in the packaging. This reduces the chance for freezer burn – drying.
5) Label and date the package. Frozen foods tend to look the same over time, especially when a layer of ice has formed.
6) Vegetables can be blanched to deactivate enzymes. Blanching is quick cooking in boiling water for a few minutes and cooled rapidly in ice water.
7) For initial freezing using pliable freezer bags, freeze on a smooth, flat surface to prevent the bag from molding itself to the rack.

Visit the Daring Kitchen Recipe Achieve for all the challenge recipes, tips and other food preservation ideas. Thanks John for such great information and a perfectly timed challenge.

More recipes you might like:

Pesto Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Rolls from Barbara Bakes
Peach Butter from Food Finery
Baked Pesto Chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Freezer Jam rocks from This Week for Dinner

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. says

    What an interesting idea, using the vitamin C tablet! I’ve always just used a squeeze of lemon juice, it does the same thing. I also like the idea of freezing it into ice cubes! Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Stephanie says

    These little plastic cups are perfect for homemade “fruit on the bottom” yogurt. We make homemade greek yogurt… and before it goes in the fridge, we put a T. of homemade jam, top with yogurt and screw on the lid. So nice to have the individual yogurts for lunches and snacks.

  3. Jenn says

    Lol. Ryan and I found out about tip #7 the hard way—the first time we froze things with plastic bags, we ended up having to remove everything in the freezer (including the shelves) and running them under hot water to get them out.

    Excellent widget, by the way! :) The site’s looking really good!

  4. says

    Barbara, thanks for passing from my blog and it’s a pleasure meeting you. Both your recipes are favourites of mine. I do a lot of fruit preserves and I freeze pesto all the time. I never thought of freezing them into ice cubes. I have some small tupperware with a lid where I freeze them and you can cut as much as you like with a knife when it is frozen. It cuts very easily.

  5. says

    Those cups for freezing look great. What a great idea! And, your pesto looks delicious. My basil plants just exploded with new leaves after we got a big rain. Can’t wait to make more pesto!

  6. JG says

    Peach Freezer Jam – Yummy! Every year I make Strawberry, Blueberry & Peach Freezer Jam to last until the following summer. :)

    Thanks for the Pesto tips – never have tried it.

  7. says

    I am on the Ball freezer cup “bandwagon”!! In fact, I found them in two larger sizes that I will use for stocks and sauces in the freezer. I’m going to do your peach jam. It looks and sounds delicious!


  8. says

    My mother always made freezer jam with strawberries and raspberries. Going to try it with peaches….we still have some lovely ones in the market.

    Love the pesto tips, Barbara!

  9. says

    Oh Barbara this not only looks fabulous but brilliant to freeze in ice cube trays! And that pesto on the ravioli looks divine! Perfect all around again!

  10. Cristie says

    I love Bonnie’s pesto- and the secrect ingredient is really wonderful. Who would have guess? I’m so happy that you’ve now put up some jam! You’ve now entered my world of home canning :)

  11. says

    There is something about preserving (which incidentally I’m a touch nutty about, I love it) that makes one want to have all matching vessels to hold the bounty, so naturally I love your little freezer cups, they suit my sense of what preserves mean (silly I know..)
    I also am a huge fan of freezing little bits into iceblocks & then popping them into freezer bags to take out when necessary. Love this idea of basil pesto frozen this way, its great, so will also be borrowing this idea too.
    Enjoyed this post Barbara…, and best of luck in the Daring Cooks challenge.

  12. says

    I love the idea of freezing presto in ice cube-sized portions. Perfect for a quick meal when my hubby is out of town and I’m cooking for just myself!

  13. says

    Barbara, so glad you liked the pesto. I love the Foster’s Market recipes. I also have those freezer jars. Aren’t they the perfect size? That peach jam looks lovely and thanks for the great freezing tips. I love the new blog.

  14. says

    Like you, I have not done much food preservation. I love the idea of preserving sauces in the freezer – these are the things that invariably get wasted because you can never use them up in time. I adore your peach jam – it looks perfect for a piece of toast or a crumpet.

  15. says

    I love your little jars! I’m going to make some pesto real soon before the cooler weather gets my basil bush!
    Jam sounds fabulous. I like to can stuff but just haven’t done any this Summer. But I will be doing a cranberry sauce once the cranberries hit the market!

  16. says

    Pesto and ravioli, sounds delicious. And I love the idea of preserving this wonderful jam, but I think I would’ve eaten all of the giant peaches before I got around to making it :)

  17. says

    Lovely! I love peach anything, and what a great way to preserve pesto.
    I like the jars, I haven’t tried freezer jam yet.
    I had already been canning the week or so before, and when I went back to get more tomatoes for the bruschetta recipe – gone! Shouldn’t have left it to the last minute I guess. 😉

  18. says

    You know I have never tried freezing pesto, mostly coz it doesn’t last long enuf for the need.. but I like the idea of freezing in an ice cube tray!! great work on the challenge Barbara.. I am going to be posting late this time.. haven’t yet photographed.. hehe

  19. says

    I too just made a huge batch of pesto to store in the freezer and my recipe is almost the same as yours. I wish I knew about the vitamin C tablet though, that’s genius!

  20. says

    Well, as a newbie you just jumped right in with both feet and achieved stellar results! It’s so nice that when you want some in the future, it’s all ready! Looks delicious!

  21. says

    Pesto is one of my favorite condiments/sauces to freeze! I always try to stock up before the summer is over. Your globe basil plant sounds super cute! I’ll have to look out for that next summer.

  22. says

    Yum – your peach freezer jam looks delicious. I love peaches, so that sounds right up my alley. And that pesto looks fantastic!! Great idea to freeze it in ice cube trays, too – makes portioning it out later so much easier! Awesome job.

  23. Lauren says

    Oh having frozen pesto ready for anytime you need it would be perfect, can’t wait till I have enough freezer space to make someone like that. The oust ravioli looks amazing!

    I also chose to go down the freezing rather than canning route, and it seemed to work well. I have mince pie meat in my freezer ready for the holidays!

  24. says

    Love the plastic jam jars! And I also love the idea of freezing the pesto in ice cube trays. It’s time to cut my basil back and I’m gearing up to make a huge batch of pesto to freeze for the winter.