Do you want to know how to ferment vegetables? Whether you are looking for a traditional sauerkraut, a delicious jar of pickles or something more exotic, it’s easy to make probiotic vegetables at home. Here is everything you need to know about making homemade fermented vegetables, along with links to recipes so that you can ferment everything from Avocados to Zucchini!
How to Ferment Vegetables
- CLEANLINESS: The general rule is to keep everything as clean as possible to avoid contamination. This is even more important for things like pickles and sauerkraut that can ferment for a month or longer. Here’s a full post on how to sanitation for fermentation.
- TEMPERATURE: Vegetables like to ferment at around 18 C (65 F). If you don’t have anywhere cool to stash your ferments, just ferment for less than 5 days.
- DARKNESS: Keep your vegetable ferments in a dark cupboard, or wrap them up in a towel to avoid exposure to light. Light will encourage mold.
- STARTERS: Most garden-grown vegetables (affiliate link) have a good bacterial culture on their skin. This is particularly true for cabbage. However, sometimes it is a good idea to use a starter. Here is my post on when to use a starter.
- SALT: the right ratio of salt will help avoid most problems. Here’s a handy brine calculator.
- CONTAINERS: The goal of a fermentation container is to keep the vegetables away from air. If you plan on doing a lot of fermenting I recommend buying a fido jar or a mason jar with an airlock. If you are just starting out, use any glass jar with a weight to keep the vegetables below the liquid brine (and away from air). I find that a jam jar makes a good weight for a wide-mouth mason jar.
- SPOILAGE: If your ferment looks funny, smells funny or tastes off, then don’t eat it. Every ferment walks the line between the yummy yeasts and bacteria that we want to grow, and those that cause food poisoning. If you aren’t sure, read this post on mold and kahm yeast.
Recipes from A to Z
Here are some of my favourite vegetable ferments. For more recipes check out the complete fermented vegetables archive.
Snacking Vegetable Sticks
Snacking vegetables are a great way to get started. They only take a few days to make, and you end up with a delicious snack! Try making Carrot Sticks, or mixed Picnic Basket Vegetables. Personally, I LOVE the Italian-style fermented Giardiniera.
Making fermented vegetable pickles is a traditional way of preserving food. While Old-Fashioned Pickles are always popular, the list of vegetables that you can turn into fermented pickles is endless. Here’s a few of my favourites: Beets, Cocktail Onions, Garlic Scapes, and deliciously pink Turnip Pickles.
Relish and Other Condiments
Traditional Cabbage Ferments
As I mentioned above, cabbage has it’s own lactic bacteria culture, which is why it is so popular to ferment! Curtido is South American fermented cabbage and onions, which is delicious on papusas. Koreans eat kimchi at almost every meal. If you are new at fermenting I recommend making sauerkraut, because it is such an easy and reliable ferment for first-timers.
And if you are looking for some new and exciting ways to get more sauerkraut into your diet here are some ideas.