Should Pesto Be Made In A Food Processor Or Pestle And Mortar?

Pesto being made in a pestle and mortar

Short answer
Whilst large-batch producers have no option other than to use machinery, if you're making pesto at home it will taste infinitely better if you use a pestle and mortar.

Long answer
We’ve done dozens of blind taste testings to find out whether pesto tastes better when it's made with a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Every single time the latter option won - and there's three very simple reasons why.

Firstly, electric kitchen appliances generate heat - and the one thing you really don’t want to do to pesto is heat it too much. If you do, all those wonderful fresh herby flavours will be destroyed, or at least dulled down.

Secondly, food processors use a very crude way of breaking down ingredients. They effectively just slice ingredients into smaller and smaller pieces. A pestle and mortar on the other hand, crushes the ingredients, releasing much more flavour in the process.

The third reason you should shun a food blender or processor is because the blade action of electric appliances shears olive oil into microscopic droplets. This causes the release of compounds called polyphenols which will turn your oil - and therefore your whole sauce - bitter. Using a pestle and mortar doesn't do this.

Even if these rational arguments haven’t convinced to dust off your pestle and mortar, we can guarantee you that your sauce will taste better simply because you’ve made it with your own bare hands.

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