Homemade pesto from seasonal ingredients - It's ramsons time!

Last weekend the weather was outstanding, so I executed a little walk around town when I discovered a field of ramsons in the woods.
Ramsons, also known as wild garlic, are related to onions and garlic, which explains the distinct garlic flavor that lingers around our forests during springtime. It is one of the first greens that sprout, before trees start to block the sunlight. As can be seen in the pictures, they usually cover wide areas of forest ground.

What is particularly amusing to me is the fact that supermarkets and garden centers sell those weeds for a ridiculous price right now, when the stuff is growing en masse all over the place.

When picking ramsons, one should be aware of similar plants that are very poisonous and occasionally cause intoxications when people mistake them with lilly of the valley or even autumn crocus.
Identifying ramsons should be no rocket science due to their stinky nature, though. If unsure and your hands already smell like a Greek barbeque, ramsons leaves always grow as individual stems emanating from the plants base. Lilly of the valley has multiple leaves on one stem and they are somewhat wrapped together.
Beeing the early bird has the benefit of avoiding most toxic lookalikes, as ramsons usually sprout a few weeks earlier.

Once wild garlic starts to flower it should not be used anymore, as it loses most of it's flavors. Although, at this point the identification process is the easiest.




If you love garlic, this stuff is for you. Its use is manifold. Salad, Soups, Paste, Pesto, in all kinds of noodles, potaoe dumplings, barbeque marinade - you name it. Personally I like to preserve it for the rest of the year as pesto or paste.


First of all I obviously give them a good cleaning. Just like basil, the leaves will not take heating very well and they are best used raw - as fresh as possible.


Here you can clearly see how the individual leaves have their own long stem, which is one characteristic trait that tells them apart from toxic plants.



Just five minutes of picking resulted in 400 grams of healthieness.

The next task would be to give them a nice blending, so the leaves turn into goblin paste.
Lazy boy decided to keep it easy with the shredding, hence a few rough pieces are still left.


From here on you can go many different ways, but two key incredients should not be missed.

Salt is the classic preservative that has been used for millenia. As I do not like a lot of salt in my food, I used about two teaspoons for the pesto, but for a seasoning past you can add much more, depending on your taste. The salt will extract water from the paste, which can then be seperated with a sieve.

Topping with oil after the botteling creates a layer that keeps oxygen and germs out, but I also like to add a little bit into the paste as well.


I added 4cl of olive oil for a nice taste. Once the paste is bottled, it gets submerged in a layer of oil.


At this point it can already be used as pesto, marinade or seasoning paste in all kinds of dishes. But the classic recipe demands for more ingredients.
Italian pesto uses pine nuts, but those are not local and very expensive, so I used 100 grams of walnuts that we picked last fall.



Another treatment with the blender and you end up with a basic vegan pesto.

For the real deal add some Parmesan to taste. And voila! Classic Italian pesto from ramsons.



Just like any other pesto it should be fine at room temperature, as long as you keep it submerged in oil. I like to be on the safe side and store it in the vegetable compartment in the fridge. Based on personal experience, it can be stored up to a year when cooled, but I would discourage you from keeping it that long, as the flavour diminishes and no one likes to get stomach issues. LOL

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