Q.

How many pounds of basil do I need to make 100 5oz jars of pesto? I will be using leaves & stems.

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A.

We can’t be sure because A) it depends on your recipe and B) The Book of Yields, which we use for our herb estimates, doesn’t include stems in its calculations.

However, here’s an estimate that should help you come up with a rough amount to purchase:

According to the Book, you can estimate that you will get 6.4 tablespoons of chopped basil leaves for each ounce you purchase (they estimate 56% percent of the basil you buy is usable leaves).  There are 16oz in a pound and 16 tablespoons in a cup. Thus, if you were using only leaves, it follows that you’d want to order about 1lb of fresh basil for each 6.4 cups of basil your recipe called for (roughly).

Since you’re using stems, I’d expect your yield to be much higher (depending on whether you trimmed the stems at all and how much you trimmed them).  However, the weight of a chopped cup will likely be different if that cup includes stems, and we don’t know how it will vary.

I’d multiply the number of cups your pesto recipe calls for as necessary to get the amount of pesto you want, then divide that number of total cups by 6.4.  Obviously the resulting # of pounds will be more than you need, but it’ll hopefully give you a basis to guess-timate down from.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for pine nuts for your pesto undertaking, and don’t want to use the Chinese variety, we offer both bulk Italian pine nuts and Mediterranean pine nuts (the same variety, but grown in Turkey – a more affordable option).

– Question Submitted by Cindy S.




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