An Amazing Fermented Basil Pesto Recipe

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, Italy—birth place of Christopher Columbus.  Traditionally, pesto includes crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese, all blended with olive oil. Here, Abigail takes a traditional recipe and ups it a notch with fermentation. Not only improving the flavor but enhancing the nutritional benefits.

The first fruits of the garden are finally upon us! There is not much more thrilling than going outside to pick your own produce and herbs for the dinner table. One herb that we have grown year after year is basil.

Typically, we grow Genovese basil. It’s a very common culinary variety of the plant, with a sweet flavor profile that most of us know and appreciate in traditional Italian dishes. Genovese basil is also the tried and true variety for making a traditional basil pesto.

Since my husband is half-Italian, pesto is a staple in our house. We mix it with pasta, use it as a pizza topping, or add it to eggs or poultry.

We’ve been making our own homemade pesto for years. Of course, I began to wonder if I could turn a regular pesto into a fermented version. I had to give it a try!

An Amazing Fermented Basil Pesto Recipe

How to make fermented basil pesto


  • 6 C packed basil (Genovese)
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 1 C pine nuts (or other nuts, such as walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 C grated Parmesan
  • 1.5 C Olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp whey or brine from another ferment*
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
  • pepper to taste

1) If you’ve got a food processor or blender, this recipe will be very easy! Simply blend all the ingredients together until well mixed and relatively smooth. If you don’t have a blender, chop the basil, cloves, and nuts as fine as you can. Then mix well with Parmesan cheese, olive oil, whey or brine, sea salt, and pepper.

2) Place all ingredients in a clean wide-mouth Mason jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. (The olive oil is to keep the herbs from being exposed to oxygen. I chose olive oil instead of a glass weight for this recipe only because it’s difficult to submerge blended herbs with a weight. They tend to sneak right above it!)

3) Install an airlock on top of the jar. Leave on the counter for 2-3 days, then move to cold storage.

You now have fermented basil pesto! To avoid killing off good bacteria in your ferment, be sure to add the pesto to your dish after it’s been removed from the heat. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pesto?


*Fermentools does not support the adding of whey to ferments. While some folks like to do it to promote different strains of bacteria, or to give their ferment a boost, it is not necessary.


Abigail mentioned using a glass weight and airlock in this recipe. You can get a complete kit that turns your common Mason jar into a fermentation vessel in the Fermentools store. Check it out.


Abigail is an aspiring homesteader, homeschooler, and music-maker. She lives with her husband and three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.

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