Can You Can Pesto To Preserve It Longer?

Can you can pesto? It’s not a good idea. Pesto sauce is not one of those foods with a long shelf life. If you want to keep it for a few days, you had better store it in the refrigerator and freezer.

You may assume that canning will help keep the sauce longer. Well, that is not the case with this sauce. Pesto is sold in fresh, canned, and powdered forms. You can also enjoy the abundance that comes with making pesto sauce at home.

If canning pesto isn’t a great idea, how else can you preserve the sauce? Why shouldn’t you store it in cans? Will your delicious sauce go bad if left out?

These are the storage and preservation questions you most likely have. Keep reading to see your answers.

What is pesto?

Pesto is a delicious sauce made from crushed basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic. It originates from Italy but is now one of the most-eaten sauces in the world.

All the ingredients are pounded into a thick paste that is served as a dip for bread, pasta sauce, barbecue marinade, spread for sandwiches, condiment for soup and pizza sauce, and salad dressing.

Pesto pasta is a common meal in restaurants that serve classic Italian meals.

Furthermore, every ingredient in the sauce has a high nutritional value. Basil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin K. Parmesan cheese is a rich source of calcium and is low in lactose. Olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants and healthy fats.

Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. Garlic is low in calories but rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese.

Altogether, ¼ cup of this sauce contains 263 calories. The fats you’re getting from the sauce are the heart-healthy kind.

Can you can pesto?

Canning pesto as a way of preservation is not advisable.

The olive oil, parmesan cheese, and garlic in the sauce do not make canning profitable. The ingredients make the can a conducive environment for botulism to thrive.

Moreover, these ingredients can become rancid and may result in cases of food poisoning. To be safe, do not can pesto.

Can you can pesto in a water bath?

No, you can’t.

If you have homemade pesto and plan to water-bath can it, do not. Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic will make the sauce rancid. In addition, water-bath canning will compromise the taste of the sauce.

Can you pressure can pesto?

Do not pressure can pesto.

Canning the sauce in whatever way will make it more habitable for botulism. Consequently, the sauce will become unsafe to eat and poisonous too.

Can you vacuum seal pesto?

Yes, you can.

Pesto sauce is one of those foods you can vacuum seal to preserve it longer. Store the sauce in freezer bags or jars and vacuum seal them. This way, the sauce can stay frozen for a longer period and retain its bright green hue and flavor.

Additionally, vacuum sealing keeps oxygen out of the jar of sauce and eliminates the chances of bacterial action.

How to make pesto


  • 8 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 6-7 cloves of freshly minced garlic
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Pepper (optional)


  • Add all the ingredients except the oil and water into a food processor
  • Pulse until you have a smooth texture
  • Then, slowly add the oil and water while the food processor is working
  • You should have a thick paste already
  • Afterward, add the salt
  • Pour the pesto sauce into a bowl and serve or store

How to preserve pesto

1. Make pesto cubes

This method is good for storing pesto in small portions. It is also good for storing small quantities of sauce. To do this:

  • Take a clean ice cube tray
  • Pour a spoonful of sauce into each cube
  • Then, add a thin layer of olive oil over each cube
  • Afterward, put the tray in the freezer until the sauce is frozen
  • Pop out the cubes and transfer them into a freezer bag
  • When you need it, take out the cubes and use them in their frozen state

2. Store in jars

Keep pesto sauce in jars when you need to store large quantities of the sauce. To do this:

  • Fill clean glass jars with pesto but leave an inch of headspace
  • Afterward, add a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation and to keep the sauce looking green
  • Cover the jars tightly to keep oxygen out
  • Then, freeze

Does pesto go bad?

Yes, it does.

How fast pesto goes bad depends on whether it is homemade or store-bought and how you stored it.

Homemade pesto certainly has no preservatives and won’t last beyond two hours at room temperature. It will last only a week in the refrigerator. After which it will go bad. To preserve it longer, freeze it.

An open jar of store-bought pesto contains preservatives and will last a few days outside the refrigerator if you keep it well.

Furthermore, an unopened jar of this tasty sauce can last weeks or months as long as the seal is intact. Moreover, it still retains its quality when it’s a week past its printed date.

How to tell pesto has gone bad

Mold growth

When you open an old jar of pesto, look around the neck of the jar and on the surface of the sauce for mold growth.

If you notice dark green patches or a powdery growth, the sauce has gone off. Do not eat it. Otherwise, you could fall ill.

The appearance

When the sauce has gone off, the bright green hue will give way to a light brown hue. This color change is from the basil leaves that are going rancid.

This change happens when the sauce has been opened for too long. It oxidizes, and the color changes.

The smell

When the sauce has gone bad, it’ll smell rotten or rancid. When the olive oil that covers the sauce goes rancid, the sauce equally goes bad. Once the sauce no longer smells fresh, discard it.

The taste

This last test for spoilage comes in when the sauce doesn’t look or smell off. Also, if you can’t make out the smell but it doesn’t look bright green, you should taste a little of the sauce.

If you notice a funny taste or any deviation from the original taste, throw the sauce away.


How long does pesto last?

Fresh pesto cannot last more than two hours at room temperature. Therefore, you should refrigerate or freeze it immediately if you cannot consume it all.

Refrigerated unopened pesto sauce will keep for three to six weeks, while an open jar will last only a week.

Freezing this sauce is the best way to preserve it longer. An unopened jar of this sauce can stay frozen for six months, while an open jar will last three to four months.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, you can. You can safely freeze pesto sauce and store it for up to six months. You can freeze it in ice cube trays or jars.

What’s the best way to store pesto?

The best way to store pesto sauce is to pour it into jars, cover it with olive oil and refrigerate it.

If you’d rather freeze the sauce for a longer period, pour it into an ice cube tray and store the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.


Pesto is a delicious sauce. Nothing is appealing in seeing leftovers go to waste. If canning was the preservation method on your mind, you can take it off already.

The other ingredients such as cheese and pine nuts that make the sauce tasty do not work well with canning. Therefore, if you want to preserve it longer, ditch the cans.

Make pesto cubes or store the sauce in freezer bags and refrigerate for days or keep it frozen for months.

Thanks for reading.

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