Fermented Hogweed Borsch Recipe

I no longer recommend this plant be served to the public.

This plant is not for beginners. Never eat raw. Always wear gloves when gathering.

Please read these important Safety Notes.

This fermented hogweed Borsch recipe is divine. In Russia Hogweed’s (Heracleum sphondylium) old name was “borschevnic”.

The soup was originally made using lacto-fermented hogweed. In Poland both the soup and plant are called “barscz” and by the end of the nineteenth century this had evolved to mean a soup with beetroot as the main ingredient.

In Romania the sharp lacto-fermented liquid is called borsch and is used like stock and added to soups.

WARNING: Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) is part of the Carrot family and as such you must be 500% certain that you have identified this plant correctly. You must also gather it with gloves on as the sap can burn you. This is completely destroyed by cooking.

Do NOT eat this plant raw! Definitely not a plant for novice foragers to start playing around with. Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), is highly poisonous, and even brushing against it can give some people very serious burns.

Not everyone can eat this plant – some people experience severe reactions to it – You MUST conduct a safety tolerance test, before ever eating this plant. I don’t care what other foragers say. My advise comes from over 10 years of working with Hogweed.

Read my article: Foraging Safety Guidelines For Eating Wild Edible Plants.

Ingredients for Fermented Hogweed Borsch Recipe

Gather Hogweed leaves and stalks so the balance is 50% leaf to thick shiny stalk. Wash and chop them and pack them into a large Kilner jar. Add salt to taste and pour over boiling water to cover. Seal the lid but do not include the rubber seal, it should not be air-tight as you need to allow the air bubbles that form to escape. Leave the jar in an ambient room temperature and after 2-3 days it will become sour and you will see bubbles in the brew. After three days it will become too sour and acidic.

In spring the leaves and juice can be used but in autumn the leaves and stalks are too tough and only the liquid is consumed

  • 500g tomatoes
  • 4 medium sized beetroot
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 500ml/g fermented hogweed liquid
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Pepper

To finish:

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons creamed hot horseradish
  • Fresh parsley and/or chives to garnish.

Suggested Instructions for Fermented Hogweed Borsch Recipe

  1. Halve the tomatoes, dribble with a little oil and pop under a hot grill to char and soften for about 10 minutes. Blitz in a food processor and push through a sieve to remove the seeds and skin, reserving the liquid.
  2. Grate the beetroot coarsely
  3. Sweat the onion in the oil for 5 minutes, to soften but not brown. Add the garlic and beetroot and fry for a few minutes longer. Add the hogweed liqueur and sieved tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, when the beetroot should be cooked. Add a little water if the soup is too dry. Add the tomato puree and blend
  4. Season with pepper and taste to check salt levels, you may not need any as the hogweed juice is quite salty. Reheat the soup until it is hot
  5. Blend the yogurt and horseradish and add a generous swirl to the soup just before serving accompanied with a little fresh herbs for contrast.

Serves 4.


  1. Hi Robin,

    I was wondering if you know about parsnip seed edibility. They look and smell almost identical to the hogweed seeds, which I have used dried in cakes before with happy results, but can’t find any info on parsnip seed edibility(probably as folk usually just eat the root cooked) I assume they are fine, as they are a cultivated veg but as I’m wanting to lacto ferment them in a greens mix from the garden, so I want to be sure sure before use that they won’t cause burns or bad tum tums. Will do small skin test anyhow.

    Happy foraging,


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