Fermented Pesto you can make at Home

Fermented Pesto: How to make a dairy free version at home

All this recent rain has meant our house garden has seeming sprouted up overnight. Fermented Pesto is a great way to use up a variety of different greens that you find in your garden. That is as locally made as it gets:-) I've made fermented pesto with ingredients as diverse as carrot tops, oxalis! and kumara leaves before.

Ingredients: (I've used ratios so you can weigh them if you prefer)

  • 6 parts fresh herbs or leafy greens leaves
  • 5 parts extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 parts nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 minced garlic
  • 1/2 lemons (peel or grate rind and juice)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Begin by washing your fresh leaves, you can dry them by patting dry or in a salad spinner, if you wish. Washing will help prevent any unwanted bacteria from growing during the fermentation process.

  2. In a food processor, add the nuts/seeds and chop. Then add the leaves,  minced garlic, lemon rind and lemon juice. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped.

  3. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil and  continue blending until the pesto has reached your desired consistency

  4. Transfer the pesto to a clean, sterile jar with a loosely fitted lid. Leave about 20% head room at the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation.

  5. Make a salt brine from 1tsp salt and 1 cup of water. Over the back of a tablespoon, pour a small layer (about 5mm over the top of the smoothed out pesto) discard unused brine.

  6. Store the jar in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days. Check the pesto each day to release any built-up gases and ensure that no mold has formed on the surface. The salt brine will absorb into the mixture.

  7. After 2-3 days, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. This will slow down the fermentation process and help preserve the flavor of the pesto.

N.B. Our commercial product has a shelf life of 12 months when unopened, however that is in a vacuum sealed jar.  After opening our product is good for 2-3 months. 
If you are fermenting in the jar then the CO2 should stop any oxidation. Leave the lid loose(ish) for two-three  days of fermentation then tighten it up after that. You will know it is done properly if the product has expanded (hence why we say leave 20% head room)

Fermented pesto can be used in much the same way as traditional pesto and you can feel great knowing you are helping your gut health with every mouthful and that  it is probably organic, gluten free and vegan too if that's important to you.

It's a great in pasta dishes, potato salad, sandwiches, or on  BBQ or roasted vegetables. 

Making your own fermented pesto is a great way to use up excess greens from the garden and it is a delicious twist on a classic. It's easy to make at home and can be changed up according to the available ingredients. 

We'd love to hear how you used this recipe:-)

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