It’s really easy to make fermented Brussel sprouts. Just like all other cabbage ferments, Brussel sprouts naturally have the necessary lactic culture right on their leaves. So packing them in a jar with salt brine is an easy way to preserve the crop.
Fermentation is also a great way to serve Brussel sprouts to someone who typically doesn’t enjoy sprouts. They develop a tangy, salty, and sour flavor that is perfectly paired with cheese, diced up into a salad, or served as a kraut-like condiment on hot dogs.
A few notes about fermenting Brussel Sprouts
Whole or halves?
When fermenting Brussel sprouts, you need either commit to fermenting whole sprouts or half sprouts. Because it will dramatically change the amount of time required for the ferment.
- Brussel sprouts that have been sliced in half only take 2 to 3 weeks to ferment and soften. This is because the inner layers are exposed to the brine.
- Whole Brussel sprouts will take at least 3 weeks to ferment. In fact, they could be left to ferment for several months. This is because it takes time to ferment the center of a whole sprout.
- If fermenting whole Brussel sprouts it’s also a good idea to sort by size, as larger sprouts will take longer to ferment than smaller ones.
It’s always fun to add flavors to homemade ferments! However, I only recommend flavoring fermented Brussel sprouts that have been sliced in half. Unless the whole sprouts are really small, the flavors just won’t reach the center of the sprout. But don’t worry, whole fermented sprouts pack plenty of flavor all on their own.
Here are a few flavors that you can add to a jar of fermented Brussel sprouts. The amount given is for a 1-quart jar.
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 or 2 hot peppers, sliced in half
- 2-inch piece of ginger, sliced in quarters down the middle.
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 tsp of pickling spice
- 2 tsp of caraway
If you have any other flavor suggestions, please share them in the comments!
Serving Fermented Brussel Sprouts
Here are a few suggestions for serving your fermented Brussel sprouts:
- Sprouts that have been sliced in half and fermented with flavor can be served straight from the jar, like any pickled vegetable. They are delicious as an appetizer or side dish.
- Whole fermented sprouts have a unique flavor that I quite enjoy. They are also firm enough to be sliced up for serving. I like slicing them up, then serving them with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Fermented sprouts can be finely chopped and served as a condiment for hot dogs and sandwiches or as a garnish.
- Serve them as a topping for a Buddha bowl or salad.
- Brussel sprouts are a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dish. Serve them sliced in half or quarters as part of your holiday meal.
- They are quite similar to sauerkraut, so feel free to finely slice them and serve them like sauerkraut.
Fermented Brussel Sprouts
Fermented Brussel sprouts are salty, sour and tangy. Perfect as a side dish or diced up as a condiment. See the section above for 5 different flavour options.
- Yield: 1 quart 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Fermented
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 Tbsp salt (non-iodized)
- 1 cup chlorine-free water (enough to cover)
- 1 lb of Brussel sprouts.
- Flavors (see the section above)
- Mix the salt and water in the bottom of a 1-quart (1 L) jar.
- Decide if the Brussel sprouts are going to be fermented whole or in half. I don’t recommend doing a mix of both because they won’t ferment at the same rate. See the section above for more details.
- Don’t use any sprouts with bad spots. Slice a little bit off the bottom of the sprouts. Peel off any loose leaves. Wash the sprouts and pack them into the jar.
- Add more water if necessary to completely submerge the sprouts. Use a weight to keep the sprouts below the brine and leave 1-inch of headroom.
- Cap with a loose-fitting lid that will allow gas to escape. See notes for more details.
- Ferment in a cupboard for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 months (for whole sprouts).
- I generally like using fido jars for my ferments. However, I don’t have enough fido jars for all my ferments so I often use mason jars and simply don’t tighten the jar ring all the way. You could also use an air-lock or pickle-pipe. Using a good, fermentation-specific lid is more important for longer ferments. So I recommend it if you want to ferment whole Brussel sprouts for longer than a month.
- Like sauerkraut and other cabbage ferments, fermented Brussel sprouts are not recommended for anyone with hypothyroidism.
Keywords: gluten-free, fall, winter, Thanksgiving, harvest, simple, easy, no-cook, zero-waste, keto, low carb
Hello from Brussels! Totally going to make this one this autumn, what’s not to like?
Will try with either fill seed or caraway seed and garlic maybe done juniper berries
Yum! Garlic and juniper berries sound amazing. Thanks for sharing!
Excellent website and recipe instructions Emillie. I would subscribe, but I am just beginning to dip my toes into the fermented vegetable scene. I use a plastic or styrofoam cup cut off at the bottom to force the veggies below the level of the brine. As the fermentation takes place some of the liquid was forced out of the jar so I placed the glass containers in larger plastic containers to catch the overflow and will find another use for it.
On another site a Torontonian Canadian describes how to ferment garlic cloves in raw honey. That is a marvel and it seems to be working. He claims tha after proper fermenting the honey flavored garlic cloves taste just like candy. mmm
Thanks! It does take a bit of practice to make sure you have enough headroom for bubbling. It’s fine if the brine bubbles over. Especially, if you’re doing a shorter ferment (less than 2 weeks). I also love making fermented garlic. I’m not sure I would describe it as candy-like. But they do become mild and give the honey a delicious infused garlic flavor. I even created a salad specifically to feature honey fermented garlic: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/honey-garlic-coleslaw/
I am a gardener in Florida. We are fortunate to have year round growing opportunities. It has proved to be a wonderful experiment and a useful window into our local ecologies.
I found your bio and the description of your activities with your family very heart warming. It was sad to hear that the family that brought you into this world had so much suffering related to their lack of gut health. How wonderful you were able to find a remedy for that and are now becoming so experienced and able to help others.
Eventually I expect to be harvesting honey from my very own hives and will use it in many of the recipes I expect to be developing.
There is a company that is developing a line of honey and propolis based products and a woman is it founder as well as the company president. She has chosen Vancouver Island as the principle location for the bee hives from which her company sources the various bee output which go into her products. She likes the purity of the land air and water which help keep a high level of purity in th items she produced and sells.
Thanks for sharing! Honey ferments are really wonderful, reliable, and delicious. I’m sure it’s even better if you have your own bees. All the best, Emillie
This sounds really good! You say to not use ones that have bad spots. Most all the sprouts I’ve gotten have some spots on them, but how meticulous do I need to be? Is this like soft spots that are clearly bad or do I even need to avoid small blemishes on the leaves?
Very new to all of this and really want to learn more about fermentation.
(Sidebar: just curious, how do you go about controlling fruit flies that seem to appear out of nowhere swarming around your ferments and sprouts?)
It’s important to avoid any that have moldy or rotting spots because they will contaminate the ferment. However, sprouts often have little holes from slugs, etc. Those should be fine as long as they aren’t going bad. As for fruit flies… just make sure everything is covered. I do a lot of fermenting in fido jars, so they really aren’t an issue. But as long as your ferments are covered with a finely woven tea towel or a coffee filter, it should keep the fruit flies out. Good luck!
Sounds great. Probably will do halves. But I have a question:
I do lots of lactose dill cucumbers, the little ones. When I do them whole I cut a slice off of each end and poke holes in sides with a salad fork the middle ferments. Would that work with sprouts, that is slice off the bottom and poke some holes in the leaves?
I don’t think it’s necessary as they are naturally great at fermenting. However, feel free to try it if you want! Enjoy!
This was amazing!
I’m just starting to grow my own first time and I was wondering how to can them so they last longer on the shelf.
I haven’t tried canning my fermented vegetables (other than classic pickles). However, fermented Brussel sprouts should be able to last for up to a year without canning. The trick is to: 1. Store in a cool, dark location. 2. Use 2.2% brine (so 1 Tbsp per quart). Otherwise, I recommend consulting a canning book. Cheers! Emillie
Can I use frozen sprouts?
It’s possible to ferment frozen fruit and vegetables, however, it’s not ideal. Typically Brussel sprouts will ferment with the culture on their skin. These were probably blanched prior to freezing, so you will need to add culture to the ferment. Also, expect them to be extra soft due to the blanching and freezing. Good luck! Emillie
All of your recipes are great but something went wrong with my Brussel sprout ferment. Everything was kept under the brine and it smelled fine but the Brussel sprouts did not taste right or sour after the allotted time. The center of them were all a little yellowish. The water was filmy and I did scrape a bit of white creamy stuff off the top but there was no mold growth at all. Any theory? Could the sprouts have been too old?
It sounds like you had kahm yeast… https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/kahm-yeast-mold/ It’s probably not because Brussel sprouts were old (unless they were noticeably old). Sometimes kahm yeast just happens. Sometimes it’s because you didn’t have enough salt. The salt in this recipe is enough for a 1-quart jar. If you made more than that, you would need to increase the salt. Cheers, Emillie
Hi Emillie, I am new to fermentation and I just love Brussels sprouts so I’m excited to try your recipe. My question is about adding balsamic vinegar as a flavoring for Brussel sprouts. Is this something you’d suggest and if so when would I add the vinegar? I love the combo of roasted sprouts and a glaze of balsamic vinegar so I was hoping to incorporate the two in my fermentation.
I love Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar as well! It’s fine to add up to a 1/4 cup of vinegar (like balsamic vinegar) per quart-sized jar to flavor a ferment. But I bet it would have more impact if you drizzled some on when serving your fermented sprouts. Cheers!