Skip to navigation | Skip to content | Skip to footer

Fermented wild garlic pesto

You can adapt any pesto recipe to make a fermented version - if you omit the oil and cheese and blend the herbs and nuts with some brine from an active batch of sauerkraut, which will be teeming with beneficial bacteria. This pesto has such a rich umami hit from the lactic acid that you don't miss the Parmesan, making this a cheaper option - and a vegan one. If you don't have any sauerkraut on the go, you can just add 2% salt to the weight of the fresh herbs and nuts, but it will ferment more slowly.


Set aside a couple of wild garlic leaves. Using a jug blender, blitz the rest of the wild garlic with the nuts (I prefer to leave the nuts raw but you can toast them first, if you like). Make the mix as fine or as rough and rustic as you like. Stir in the sauerkraut brine or the salt.

Spoon the pesto into the jar, packing it in tightly and leaving no air pockets. Cap with the reserved wild garlic leaves, folding them to sit on top of the pesto.

If the pesto doesn't come right to the top of the jar, cover it with enough sauerkraut brine to reach the rim, or if you're using sea salt, add a little pinch to the top of the capped pesto and top up with water.

Secure the lid and set the jar on a plate to catch any bubbling juices. Leave to ferment at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on how sour and funky you want the pesto to taste.

Once you are happy with your pesto, transfer it to the fridge to store for up to a week. Use as you would normal pesto, with pasta, gnocchi or as a dressing or dip, '

The lactic acid created during the fermentation process is a wonderful replacement for the Parmesan classically used in pesto, but if you like you can add some grated Parmesan along with some olive oil (which I'd recommend when serving).

River Cottage Gifts - Shop Now


Makes 100 g

75g wild garlic leaves

4 tbsp pine nuts or other nuts (hazelnuts are lovely)

2 tbsp 2% brine from a batch of sauerkraut or 2g sea salt, plus a little extra

Fermentation time

1-3 days

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Handbook: Fermentation