Wild garlic pesto is the perfect recipe to elevate your dishes with during spring! It is super easy to make and the perfect way to preserve your wild garlic so you can enjoy it even when not in season anymore.
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to prepare
- Fresh wild garlic flavor out of a jar
- Preserve your wild garlic for the whole year
- Long shelf life if stored correctly
Wild garlic is one of the most popular spring produce. It's garlicy flavor goes perfect with any savory dishes and the pesto version of it is probably the most versatile way to use it. Making homemade fresh wild garlic pesto is much easier than you might think . You only need a few ingredients and a food processor to release the fresh wild garlic flavor and preserve it in a jar for the whole year.
Wild Garlic Season
Wild garlic, or also known as ramson, is in season for a very short time during late spring. Usually their season starts in April and ends at the beginning of May. Then the plant will start blooming and can no longer be harvested as the leaves loose their flavor.
Depending on how the winter was or where you live you might find the delicate, green leaves in March already or still find them during May.
How to harvest wild garlic
Wild garlic can usually be found out in the woods. However, you can also grow it in your garden or simply buy the leaves at your local grocery store.
Harvesting wild garlic in the forest
Wild garlic is in the same family as chives, onions and garlic. It is a green leave that grows wild in forests and often covers huge areas. The leaves are around 20-30cm long and have a wonderful garlicy smell which makes it perfect for savory dishes.
When you plan on harvesting wild garlic be sure to bring a bag, basket or bowl with you as you to carry all the leaves. You will want to choose a dry and sunny day for harvesting as that is when the plant tastes the best. The leaves can be plucked by hand but you can use a pair of kitchen scissors if you prefer. You will want to pull them out (or cut off) right at the bottom of the stem. The young and small leaves will be the most aromatic ones, the older wild garlic gets the more it will loose its great flavor.
Be careful! Wild garlic can easily be mixed up with the poisonous meadow saffron and lilly of the valley. Make sure to google which one is which and take a close look at the pictures to make sure you are picking the right plant. If you smell the strong garlicy flavor you usually are save that it is the right plant. If you want to be 100% sure and are not an experiences forager I recommend simply buying it at the store or getting one to plant in your garden.
Ingredients you need
The ingredients for wild garlic pesto are very similar to my basil pesto:
- Wild garlic: Harvest it yourself or buy it.
- Parmesan: This recipe uses a block of parmesan you grate yourself to get the best flavor.
- Pine Nuts: Pine nuts give the pesto the best flavor and I highly recommend investing in them. Alternatively, you can use other nuts like cashews instead.
- Salt: Cuts the bitterness of the wild garlic
- Olive Oil: Use virgin olive oil
- Chili: This is optional but a great way to switch up the pesto. The man in my family absolutely love this version. If you can't handle heat like me tough you might want to stay away from it.
There are several different tools you can use to make your pesto.
- Food processor - this is the quickest, most easiest way to do it.
- Stand Mixer - if a food processor is not available you can use a stand mixer. Even a hand mixer would work. The pesto usually gets smoother than you usually would want your wild garlic pesto to be.
- Mortar - this is the classic way to do it. However, it is also the hardest one as you gotta do the actual work yourself. time consuming
How to make wild garlic pesto
Note: that this is just a short description of the recipe. Find the more detailed step-by-step recipe in the recipe card.
- Wash the wild garlic leaves thoroughly with water.
- Dry them off.
- Toast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium heat.
- Grate the parmesan.
- Add all ingredients but the olive oil to the food processor (or mortal or stand mixer).
- Turn on the food processor and start pouring in the olive oil.
- Pour into an air-tight jar, top with an olive oil layer and store.
Storage and shelf life
The first important step to make sure the pesto has a long shelf life is to fill it into sterilized jars. Here is a post that explains you different way to sterilize your jars properly.
You can preserve your wild garlic pesto by always keeping an olive oil layer on top. Just how we do it with our basil pesto. This will prevent mold from forming and acts like a natural seal to any bacteria.
Keep your jars of pesto in a cold dark area like your fridge or a cold cellar. You could also freeze your pesto which actually is our favorite way to do it as it will keep your pesto fresh for at least a year.
Once you open the jar you have to store the pesto in the fridge. After using it scrape down the sides of the jar so no more pesto is left. Then top it off with another olive oil layer to seal it again.
What does wild garlic pesto go with
Wild garlic pesto has a wonderful garlicy flavor and tastes great on pasta, on pizza, on bread and sandwiches or on your protein. It is also a great dip for vegetable sticks or mixed in with other dips like cream cheese. It really goes well with any kind of savory dish.
This is also a perfect homemade gift idea during spring. Store them in cute jars to make your friends and family happy.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Can wild garlic pesto be frozen
A: You can absolutely freeze the pesto. This is our personal favorite as it allows us to keep the pesto for at least a year and therefore enjoy it all year around.
Q: Why is my pesto bitter?
A: For some people wild garlic tastes very bitter. That is no problem, the flavor can be very potent especially in young plants. No worries tough, we can fix that. Once your pesto is mixed up taste it and decide if you need to adjust the flavor.
Here are some things to check when trying to fix the flavor:
- Taste test the olive oil: There are thousands of different olive oils out there and there are plenty varieties that taste bitter. Old olive oil can also go rancid and taste very bitter. If the olive oil is the reason it is bitter simply add a splash of water, vegetable oil or some lemon juice to balance it out.
- Taste the wild garlic: If it is the wild garlic flavor you don't like then simply add some different greens like spinach.
- Increase the salt or fat: Both can help to cut the bitterness. Add more pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese to your pesto. Especially the cheese has both fat and salt in it. If it still needs help don't be afraid to add salt. Taste as you go and keep adjusting till it is the right flavor for you.
- Add sweetener: I try to avoid this step but if nothing else works add a pinch of sugar or a little bit of honey to balance out the bitterness.
Q: My wild garlic pesto is to strong, what do I do?
A: If the garlicy flavor is to strong for you simply add some other greens like spinach to balance it out.
Q: Is wild garlic pesto vegetarian / vegan?
A: This wild garlic pesto does not use any animal products so it is both vegetarian and vegan as well as does not include any dairy.
More spring recipes to try
Homemade Wild Garlic Pesto
- Food processor or morsel, stand mixer
- 200 g Wild Garlic Leaves fresh
- 50 g Parmesan whole, not grated
- 50 g Pine Nuts
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 250 ml Olive Oil extra virgin
- 1 Chili (optional)
- If you harvest your wild garlic yourself, make sure to check if it actually is wild garlic before contineouing with this recipe.
- Wash the green leaves thoroughly with cold water to get rid of any dirt and bugs.200 g Wild Garlic Leaves
- Dry them well. A salad spinner does a very good job in getting rid of all the excess water. Alternatively use a clean kitchen towel and pat dry each leave.
- Next up bring a small skillet to medium heat. Do not add any oil or butter for this step, it is not needed. Toast the pine nuts in in the skillet until they turn slightly brown. Make sure to mix them around from time to time so all side get toasted. Then remove the skillet from the heat and set the nuts aside.50 g Pine Nuts
- Then grate the parmesan and keep it ready for the pesto.50 g Parmesan
- Add all ingredients but the olive oil to the food processor (or mortal or stand mixer). Start with a layer of wild garlic and then add the other ingredients on top. This releases the juices of the leaves first which helps to process the pesto.200 g Wild Garlic Leaves, 50 g Parmesan, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 Chili, 50 g Pine Nuts
- Pulse the mixture while slowely pouring in the olive oil. You do not want to over mix the pesto and keep it a bit junky.250 ml Olive Oil
- Once it reached your preferred consistency fill the pesto into a sterilized jar with an air-tight lid. Pour some olive oil on top to fully cover the pesto. This will keep the pesto from molding and going bad and will lengthen its shelf life. Once you want to eat the pesto simply mix the oil into it.
US Customary conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.
Nutrition information is calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.