How to Make Homemade Vegan Lacto Fermented Veggies

by Gena on January 27, 2013

homemade lacto fermented vegetables

In the last ten years, studies of the human microbiome, which is defined as the collective genetic identity of the microbes (composed of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live inside and on the human body, have exploded. These bacteria help to balance pH, to maintain immunity, to aid in the absorption and synthesis of nutrients, to neutralize harmful compounds, and to produce short chain fatty acids that play a role in the digestive process as well.

We’ve understood that gut bacteria aid in digestive balance and in women’s health for some time (while you were growing up, your mother might have encouraged you to eat yogurt if you were on antibiotics to prevent UTIs or candida albicans), but scientists are only beginning to comprehend the profound influence that the approximately 400 species of bacteria residing in our gut, on our skin, and on other epithelial linings have upon our health. Research suggests that obese and slender people have different numbers and varieties of intestinal bacteria, as do people with digestive disorders and those without them, diabetics and non-diabetics, and so on. As some of you may have read, Michael Pollan has volunteered to have his microbiome mapped, and it may be that home testing of gut microbiota is soon available to us all.

I hope that these tools will create a sense of empowerment and consciousness, rather than confusion, because the truth is that we don’t yet know precisely how gut flora work. Because gut flora vary widely according to culture and geography, it’s hard to create a standard of what microbial bacterial populations “should” look like. Furthermore, studies of over-the-counter probiotic supplements have yet to yield much in the way of conclusive data. One particular probiotic blend, VSL #3, has been shown to aid in the management of IBS, among other digestive disorders. But because we’re not totally sure how probiotics function, there are few standards of dosage, and to some extent the fashioning of a therapeutic blend is a matter of guesswork.

What we do know for sure is that our Western fixation on sanitation may have some disadvantages. Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and colitis), asthma, and autoimmune disorders are far more common in ultra-sanitized nations. There is one hypothesis–the “hygiene hypothesis”–that suggests that less childhood exposure to bacteria and parasites in the US and Europe may actually interfere with immune development. Because of antibiotics, antibacterial products, and overall hygiene, we don’t have as much interaction with the bacterial species that may help to keep our guts balanced. Of course, this isn’t the only reason that Western nations display more signs of dysbiosis (imbalanced gut flora): medications, artificial foods, diets high in refined sugar and saturated fats, stress, constipation, and deficient dietary fiber are also associated with the condition.

We also know that the fermentation of food–which creates the very bacteria that is so helpful in maintaining our health–is a part of traditional diets around the world. Fermentation is especially prevalent in Asia, where foods like miso, soy sauce, kimchee, and tempeh are dietary staples. But sauerkraut, kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables abound in Europe, while injera and fermented millet are traditional foods in Africa. In the Americas, sourdough bread, pickles, and cultured milk are all parts of the culinary landscape. A number of fermented foods are also shared between a number of cultures globally: wine and beer and other types of alcohol (of course), vinegar, yogurt, bread, and cheese. Fermentation has historically been an efficient way to store and preserve vegetables, sure, but it is surely no coincidence that these foods may also contribute substantially to our well-being.

Having struggled with digestive conditions for most of my life, I realize how crucial balanced intestinal flora is to my personal health. Fortunately, I happen to love fermented foods, so I’m happy to eat them frequently. I confess, though, that fermenting at home has always scared me. A few years ago, my friend Elizabeth sent me a copy of Sandor Katz’s wonderful book, Wild Fermentation, and I learned to make homemade sauerkraut. The process by which one makes ‘kraut is called “lacto-fermentation,” so called because sugars in the foods one uses feed bacteria that grow from the fermentation process, and that sugar is converted into lactic acid. This acid, along with added salt, preserves vegetables for extended periods of time. The process is shockingly easy, and you can use it to make a wide variety of tart, salty, and belly-friendly veggies. Today, I’ll show you how.

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This post is a contribution to Elenore and Sarah’s wonderful, week long fermentation week. These two ladies, who are blogging heroes to me and wonderful, supportive online friends, had the idea to celebrate bacteria—the good kind, that is!—with a week of fermentation recipes and education. A ton of groovy blogs have participated, including:

Earthsprout
Green Kitchen Stories
Golubka
Whole Promise
Two Blue Lemons
Coconut & Quinoa
The Wooden Spoon
Eat it.
Kyra’s Kitchen
Ola Domowa
Mince & Type
The First Mess
The Holy Kale
Healthy & Hopeful
My Wholefood Romance
Kale and Cardamom
The Conscious Kitchen
Cucine Ceri
Nourish
Le Passe Vite

I love seeing all these talented bloggers join forces to share delicious, healthy fermented foods!

It’s the last day of this initiative (it’s been a busy week), but I am now delighted to be contributing with an easy, vegan recipe of my own. A lot of folks believe that lacto fermentation must involve the use of whey. No whey, Jose. (Had to.) Lacto-fermentation is as easy as 1-2-3 at home, and it can most certainly be done the vegan way. In addition to Sandor Katz’s book, I owe nearly all of my fermentation know-how to The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen site, which has a great, helpful post on lacto-fermentation without whey. This post really talks you through it.

What you’ll need to start are super clean, wide mouth mason jars. I use 1 quart jars because I go through my fermented veggies very quickly! I tend to submerge them in boiling water or give them a very hot, soapy wash before getting started, but you don’t have to keep things as meticulously sterile as you would were you canning something for the long haul. I have some plastic lids I got because I didn’t like the way the metal lids tended to get dirty/rusty over time, but then again, plastic is plastic, so the more sustainable choice is to stick with metal.

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You’ll also need veggies of your choosing. You can ferment pretty much anything and everything: shredded beets, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, green beans, shredded dino kale, zucchini, and so on. My favorites are beets, carrots, cabbage, and green beans. You’ll also want any herbs, seasonings, or spices you care for handy, which can include peppercorns, garlic, green onions, dill, rosemary, chilis, and many, many others.

Finally, you’ll need a brine. I use anywhere between 1 tbsp and 1 1/2 tbsp of salt per 4 cups filtered water (adjust this to your tastes). Simply stir the salt with your water till it dissolves, and the brine is ready.

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With clean hands, layer your veggies into each jar you’re using. You can add a layer of peppercorns or spices between layers of different veggies; I like to use a few veggies per jar, resulting in a stratified creation! Pack the veggies down very tightly with your hands, and leave about two inches at the top. You’ll be adding liquid, and the veggies may rise up due to gases released during fermentation.

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When your veggies are tightly packed, add a top layer to hold them down when you add the brine. I use kale, chard, or cabbage leaves. Zucchini slices may work, too, if they’re big enough!

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Add your brine, filling it up and leaving about an inch of empty space in the jar. Screw the lid of the jar on loosely; you want air to be able to escape ad the fermentation process occurs, so it’s important not to have a tightly sealed jar.

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Next, you simply want to move the jars to a warm place for the fermentation to occur. I like to stick them on my radiator, which looks sort of funny when I come home from campus, but works like a charm. As with homemade vegan yogurt, you can choose to keep the jars in a dehydrator on a low setting, but this is very energy costly, so it’s better if you can just find a warm nook of the home.

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Let the veggies hang out for 3-5 days, checking on them every 24 hours or so. The cabbage or kale leaf may rise from escaping gas, so if it does, push it back down to keep everything submerged in brine. Starting at day 3, taste the veggies: if they’re tart enough for you, go ahead and serve! Day 4 is usually my sweet spot.

You can pile your fermented veggies into wraps, onto salads, mix them up with kelp noodles, mix them in with brown rice or quinoa, or simply snack on them the way they are. No matter how you choose to serve them, you will be treating your body to healthful bacteria and enzymes, as well as the vegetables’ own stores of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Cultured veggies are simply so, so, so tasty and great for you.

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If you’ve been squeamish about fermenting at home, I really hope this post demystifies the process for you! Making cultured vegetables reminds me of making raw crackers, or anything in the dehydrator: it sounds intense because of the wait time, but really, the process itself couldn’t be easier. And the results will delight your belly and your tastebuds both. I’ve resolved to take on way more DIY culinary projects this year, and home fermentation is a delightfully simple place to start.

For more on Elenore and Sarah’s work, visit: Earthsprout and My New Roots. And check out Sarah’s fantastic recipe for homemade kimchi or Elenore’s recipe for purple kraut! Happy fermentation :)

xo

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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

janet @ the taste space January 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Great tutorial, Gena. If there was one kitchen flop of mine, it was making sauerkraut. I had it going for 3 weeks and it just turned moldy. I have only done the quick cheater kimchee since then (with great results), since I am too scared to try again. I always find it so interesting to see pickled foods highly sought after when I mostly associate them with gastric cancer. :P

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

Don’t be scared!! It’s really so much easier than you think, and it was the 3 weeks, not the fermenting, that went wrong last time :)

I know, it’s so funny re: pickling. As always, I suppose the ‘ole “everything in moderation” dictum never fails us, right?

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elizabeth January 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

Janet,
My first few tries were flops, too. And I’d taken Sandor’s workshop. I realized I needed a more fool-proof fermenting method and invested in three Pickl-It jars. They’re pricey and not necessary if you’re comfortable with the open method Sandor teaches and you can keep your veggies submerged the entire time, but I found I didn’t like the smell of the ferments in my kitchen (and moreover, if you’re fermenting different things, like coconut kefir and kombucha, you don’t want that) … the Pickl-It jars pay for themselves many times over when you consider the price of raw fermented veggies in the supermarket (unlike almond milk, this is one of those things that really pays to DIY).

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janet @ the taste space January 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for the tip! I had followed the directions in Nourishing Traditions (bought the pickling salt, too) where I even think it said it could take 4-6 weeks to ferment (it was last winter so the house was cooler). I weighed it down but it grew mold fairly quickly. I can’t remember if I had cabbage escapists or not that were the culprit. Anyways, when life settles down I may try again. Until then, I use the quickie kimchi recipe from Vegan Eats World. :)

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Melissa January 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm

When I was shopping for a new French Press pot awhile back, I noticed in a review that someone had purchased one to keep her fermenting veggies submerged in brine :-)

I brew my own kombucha and keep it in a cooler with a hot water bag during fermentation. I switch out the bag every day or so and let it breathe – works great.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

Great idea, Melissa!

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Jennifer January 30, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I never thought of that. That would make it so easy!

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Lindsay Loves Veggies January 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

My favorite fermented foods are miso and kombucha, but you ladies are all making me want to try home -fermenting so badly! Your post makes it seem so simple! I really can’t wait to give it a shot! :)

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Kate January 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Great post! Thanks for sharing, Gena. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Gush alert: I love your site/blog/posts–you are an inspiration!

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

Aww, gush away, Kate! That is so tremendously kind, and thanks for reading.

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Lauren January 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Great post! I loooove fermented foods! :)))

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Nikki W. January 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Love this tutorial. I love fermented veggies but they’re pretty expensive at my co-op. I’ve even bought jars and lids, but haven’t followed through with making them myself. Thanks for a tutorial that makes it look simple.

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brittany January 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

you make it sound so simple, Gena! Thanks for posting this inspiring tutorial! I’m in the middle of a move to England, but i’m definitely trying this after we get settled in!

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IanWolfman January 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Vegtables.

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Gary January 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

They make a spring loaded container to do this also. The only difference is you massage the shredded vegs with salt to start the breakdown of the fibers and when the process is completed you rinse the salt off. Because its too much salt to consume.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:04 am

Gary,

I’ve made kraut in the past where I massaged vigorously. Interestingly, with this method, I get the same results, but that’s a good tip!

G

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Sarah January 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm

This is one of those posts that makes me glad you get paid to blog. Thank you for putting the time into this. I bookmarked it and can’t wait till I have the time to do it.

(Ohhhh graduate school and your endless supply of responsibilities.)

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

Ohhhh, graduate school. You and me both, sister — good luck and hang in there!

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Dreena Burton January 27, 2013 at 11:43 pm

This is fascinating Gena! I’m going to try it out. There is no vinegar used at all, like apple cider? Just the salty water? Almost too simple! I think I’d love it for carrots, and it might help make me a little more beet-keen! ;)

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:06 am

None, Dreena! And it’s amazing how the salty brine ultimately goes tart, and it tastes like there is either vinegar or lemon or some other kind of acid in there. It’s just the lactic acid from nature taking its course. I am now inspired to post more recipes, so I’m glad you like the post!

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Dreena Burton January 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

Food is cool!!! :) Thanks, def trying it!

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Rachael January 28, 2013 at 1:22 am

I had no idea it was so simple. The minute the sprouts are done growing in my jars, I’m switching to fermenting some veggies!

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Marlena January 28, 2013 at 1:26 am

I adore cultured veggies made in this simple way. I never thought of using green beans though, so I’m going to give it a try! Just plain cabbage is what I use, which is amazing, but I could use a change. :)

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Emilia @ Namaste Gurl January 28, 2013 at 1:46 am

So cool! I currently have a unhealthy obsession with a $10 jar of local wakame beet ginger kimchee (not to mention costing an arm and a leg) that needs to be parted sooner rather than later :-) I’ve always wanted to ferment my own veggies, and get creative with it, and tea, but I’ve been too intimidation has knocked the wind outta me. We’ll see if I can get back up again :-) Thanks for sharing- i’ll have to give it a spin! xo

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:03 am

Hooray! Give it a shot, Emilia. Hope you enjoy them.

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Rose January 28, 2013 at 6:11 am

I really need to try this! I’ve been squeamish, too… but you certainly make it look easy! And I read the comment about using a french press – brilliant! I think I’d need a second one, though… coffee is sacred and I don’t want it tasting like briney veggies.

Thanks, as always, Gena!

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 7:03 am

Hahaha. I’d certainly separate my contraptions, too.

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Brian January 28, 2013 at 6:52 am

Thanks G for simplifying this process.

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Sal January 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

Thanks Gena! I’ve thought about it for a while but had that afraid factor. After this lesson I am going to go for it.

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Elisabeth January 28, 2013 at 8:12 am

Thanks for this great tutorial, Gena! I love making my own pickles with home-grown cucumbers and have always wanted to make pickled radishes (my favorite), but, now, you have inspired me to branch out even more.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Hooray!

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Karen January 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

I really enjoyed this primer on fermentation and the connection between gut flora and health…such a fascinating topic to monitor esp. for those of us who have experienced our share of digestive issues in our lifetime. And, I’d like to tackle this fermentation experiment myself when I’m feeling ambitious, but for now, you’ve certainly piqued my enthusiasm. Terrific post, Gena.

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Debbie January 28, 2013 at 9:06 am

How do you chop those veggies to get those long thin strips? I might give this a try since it sounds much easier than I thought it would be.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Mandolin!

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Jayda January 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

As usual a lovely post to read. I am curious to hear your thoughts on fermentation in mason jars as you have outlined here versus fermentation using an airlock. There seems to be some controversy over whether or not mason jars allow too much oxygen into the ferment allowing the proliferation of undesirable bacteria and mold. Since lactic acid bacteria prefer anaerobic conditions it makes sense that an airlock would provide an ideal environment. Have you done any research into this topic?

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elizabeth January 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

Sandor, who’s the God of fermentation, recommends the open method. But as much as I love the man, I have not had his success and I have since invested in three Pickl-It jars. I VASTLY prefer hte airlock method. It is essentially fool proof. And your kitchen won’t smell like sauerkraut either! I constantly have three jars of this or that fermenting now. Whereas when I was using the mason jars and trying to keep the veggies submerged, I found it all a bit messy for my taste and was making sauerkraut much less frequently. It takes a while to build up that kind of intuition around ferments that leads to success with the open method and if you can be successful from the get go, well, why not?

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Jayda January 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

There are so many variables in fermentation since it is a biological system. I have not had great success with the open method either. It is my understanding that if want the ‘extra’ nutrients, such as vitamin C you need to ferment much longer than a few days and I am not sure that would be possible in an open method.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Great to know, Elizabeth! I’ll have to peek at those.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I believe the idea is that the submerged veggies (and indeed, they have to be submerged in brine) won’t have access to oxygen, thus it is an anaerobic environment. The air on top is just to let CO2 escape. But I’m sure the airlock method is a little cleaner.

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Elizabeth January 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

G, i suspect your success with open method is that you are fermenting over very few days – three to five. I only ferment salsas and stuff a few days, but I let cabbage, carrots, etc. go two weeks.

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Kimber January 28, 2013 at 9:51 am

I am so intrigued by this, but I am really funny about foods being out in a warm place, not refrigerated. Please tell me why I shouldn’t be nervous about doing this. Thanks!!

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Well Kimber, the whole idea is that the acid that develops will kill bad bacteria and encourage good! I totally get the squeamishness, but if you don’t do it at home, I’d suggest investing in some good, raw sauerkraut at some point!

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Kimber January 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

ok, I will give it a try :-)

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Kimber January 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

one more question. Do you heat the water at all? thanks!

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Anne January 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

This is awesome!!! Thank you so much I totally want to try this, I happen to love anything fermented and anything thats good for the ol muffin top :)
BTW have you ever considered juice feasting? I haven’t tried it yet but I read that it can really help to heal your body.

Heres the juicing site and their is tons of good info on their for healthy peeps to enjoy.
http://www.juicing-for-health.com/

Thanks for the great post, gave you a pin and will be back!!

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Anne,

I don’t personally endorse or believe in juice feasting. I think raw vegetable juice is wonderful — full of nutrients — but there is no reason to abstain from food, and in fact I believe that doing so may result in slower metabolism, low energy, and too much weight loss.

G

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Anne January 30, 2013 at 7:08 am

Good to know about that thank you, I think all just add more juices in my regular diet then :)

I’m going to try these veggie jars today. I was wondering is it ok to mix all the veggies together instead of layering, or do they need to be in their own little parameters?

Thanks again Gena,
Anne

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Rika Susan June 19, 2013 at 4:01 am

I totally agree with you, Gena. Vegetable juice as part of a balanced nutrition plan is superb, but the idea shouldn’t be to make it your only source of nutrition. You are absolutely right that there is no reason to abstain from food. The longer term effects can be detrimental, as you mention. I want to see folks use juicing in a way that is healthy and sustainable. Definitely not as a replacement for food.

Great post you have here. Balanced intestinal flora is so crucial for health in general. You have succeeded in making the whole fermenting process very clear and easy to follow. Good stuff!

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Mizpah @ The Raw Food Solution January 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

I never really thought about fermenting beets but that’s a great idea. They look so lovely in your salad. I’ve done carrots and they were really delicious.
Great post!

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Sara January 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

Im a middle school history teacher. This week we are learning about how Captain James Cook convinced his men to eat sauerkraut and the result was few came down with scurvy which was deadly to sailors of that time. Apparently it helps with vitamin c also :-) I might sneak in a little health lesson with History this week. And I will try this recipe too!!

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Erin W January 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm

This process look so easy! What do you do with the leftover veggies when the 4 days are over? Do you refrigerate anything that you don’t eat right away?

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Into the fridge they go! And they’ll last in there for at least a month.

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Erin W January 29, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thank you!

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Vegyogini January 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Great post, Gena! This leads me to ask…When I see lactic acid on ingredients labels for pre-packaged products, is that generally vegan? It’s something I haven’t been able to figure out yet.

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Yikes. I’m actually not sure. CR readers, anyone know?

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Erin W January 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

When you see it on packaged items at the store, it is vegan. I looked into it a few years ago when I saw it as an ingredient on jars of olives. I think it is made from fermenting beet sugar or cornstarch.

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doran February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hi, Unless it says organic, beware beet or cornstarch products as they are often from genetically modified plants and not good for the digestion, or much else. Regards.

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myrawsoul January 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Love this post! It really does demystify the process of fermenting. Definitely going to try this!

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Sarah C January 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Thanks for this – seems easy and fun! I have a question that I don’t see address in the post: when they’re done to your liking, what next? Do you pour off the brine and store them in the fridge? Do you rinse off the salt before eating? Or do you keep them out? How many days will the batch stay “good” before fermenting too much and going bad? Thanks!

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

That’s a hugely important question! Sorry to not answer it. Yes, when they’re ready, stick them in the fridge. I leave them in the brine and drain before eating :) I’d not let them ferment for more than 5-6 days. In the fridge, they should last for at least a month.

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the delicate place January 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

“our Western fixation on sanitation may have some disadvantages. Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and colitis), asthma, and autoimmune disorders are far more common in ultra-sanitized nations.” YUP! not that nate, grew up in a developing nation…but his mother constantly let him and his 4 other siblings play in the dirt and they lived on farmland. his immune system is ROBUST to say the least. yet, for me…i have had GI issues my entire life! my mother was the one with the hand sanitizer and kept me in a glass house growing up. i was quite a sickly kid because of it too…hindsight is always 20/20 ;)

great tutorial! i’m really good at growing bacteria haha, always leave my flask lids ajar on the shaker overnight. gotta get that disgusting broth chock full of bugs for experiments!

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Lori January 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Regarding Michael Pollan and having his microbiome mapped, there is a project on Kickstarter right now where you can help fund them and get yours mapped too. It’s very interesting, called UBiome.

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FoodFeud January 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Great tutorial. I’ve tried making kim chee before, but not plain veggies. I obviously ought to. Yrs look beautiful, especially the beets. Where did you find those jars with plastic tops?

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Gena January 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm

They’re 1 quart ball mason jars, wide mouthed. You can order the wide mouthed plastic tops on Amazon, as well as the jars.

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Rhonda January 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thank you for this information. I will be making some today. Fermented veggies are great for our dogs too,with the exception of the crucerifious ones and no onion. The best for them are carrot, green beans , winter squash, beet.
Thanks so much !

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Anonymous January 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Hi Gena
Can you store in fridge?
Thanks!

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Fiona January 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Ooh thanks for this post, including the background info at the start! I think I may try this! Thanks for sharing!

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Jacob January 30, 2013 at 2:14 am

You had me CRACKING UP with “No whey, Jose.”

What an informative post. Can’t wait to try this! Thanks.

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Carina January 30, 2013 at 2:17 am

Hi Gena,

Great post. It just solved my problem of not being able to use all my veggies before they go bad. However I was wondering if I could also you use to ferment my veggies or does it have to be brine?

Thank you,
Carina

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bitt January 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I am very curious how this works with non-cabbage veggies. I’ve read several books on fermentation, watched a lot of videos and demos. From what I understood, only cabbage and cucumbers have the bacteria required to ferment on their own without a starter. Other veggies need a starter or they won’t ferment in just salt. I had bad luck using a starter though with carrots only, so maybe I missing something. I also never just put the veggies into a jar of brine and that was it. I thought the massaging and open bowl and pressing down was vital? I guess there are probably just a lot of different methods to fermenting since it’s as old as time. I am just trying to cut out steps if they are unnecessary!

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Bitt February 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Can you answer my question?

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Gena February 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Hi Bitt,

Sorry I didn’t answer this sooner. To be honest, I’m a fermentation novice, so I’m not an expert here. But I can say that the carrots and beets worked without massaging or a starter; they had the characteristic tart taste and the tangy odor, for sure. So I’m not sure if another method would be better, but it definitely worked out for me! Totally easy method, so worth a shot.

Hugs,

G

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Cat January 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I’d been wanting to try my hand at fermenting veggies for a while now, but hadn’t for fear of the unknown. This post made it sound so easy!

So the other night I got home late and went to the fridge to pack lunch for the next day, glanced at the 2 big bags of carrots I had that were getting a bit close to old age (why I had so many carrots is another story), and on an impulse I heated the oven slightly (then turned it off), peeled and shredded the carrots, washed up a huge jar, made some brine, and had them sitting happily in the oven – all within 30 minutes.

So far so good, they are smelling wonderful. And they’ll be ready by tomorrow or Sunday – I’m so excited! Thank you for helping me get over that fear!

- Cat x

p.s. I’ve taped a sign over the oven controls “Do NOT TURN ME ON. There are carrots hiding inside.” to stop my fiance cooking them as he makes his favourite vegan pizza.

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Rick February 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for the great instructions easy to follow. Just “put up” two
jars if cabbage. Put cabbage in a bag and massaged with my rubber mallet. Sealed
The jars so let’s see what happens. Results in a couple days.

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Claire February 8, 2013 at 7:56 am

Hello Gena,
Thank you soooo much for this information.
I followed the steps and have just enjoyed fermented carrot, white cabbage and courgette with my lunch!
I’m looking forward to experimenting with other types of vegetables next.
Kind regards,
Claire

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Colm March 5, 2013 at 6:19 am

Hi Gena,
Look forward to trying this method out.
I get loads of veggies from the market i work on Saturday. Does this process work with most veg? I seem to get an abundance of red and green peppers, sometimes broco, and lots of cabbage leaves… I’ve become the veg recycling bin, cutting off any bruised bits and bringing them home. Haven’t had to buy fruit or veg for sometime now. But sometimes a fridge full of 10-15 peppers can be overwhelming for one person.
Appreciate any advice.
Peace
Colm

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Laura April 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

Since people are getting mold when they cover the ferment with a cabbage leaf, I came up with something that works better.
I used a Ball mason jar, and I cut a circular piece of plastic from a plastic cup lid, the same diameter as the outside of the mouth of the mason jar.
Then I filled the jar with veg’s, with brine about an inch below the top of the mason jar.
I bent the plastic circle to get it inside the jar, then I pressed it down, so the veg’s were an inch below the surface of the brine, under the plastic.
No veg’s were exposed to the air and it didn’t mold for the 4 days I did the ferment.
I used only daikon (white icycle radish) and beets, and it did have the tart tangy taste, so I think it did ferment.

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Lisa Magoulas May 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

HI Gena,
Thank you so much for the easy recipe. I think I’m going to try it tomorrow. I just heard of fermented veggies this week. Wasn’t sure what the difference was between that and canning. Looks like there’s a brine, no vinegar? Also, going to look thru your site and other sites you recommend. I’d like to learn more about this. Thank you so much. Warmest regards, Lisa

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June June 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Question: Is that ONE TABLESPOON plus1/2 T salt ???? Clarify that if you will. Thanks! Can hardly wait to try it!

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Richard Natoli-Rombach October 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I have made pickles like this. It is actually the “old fashion way” pickles were made prior to using a brine and vinegar based mixture.

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Vance Hindmarsh October 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Just wondering, before I consider subscribing… is this an actual, individually composed letter to just about every subscriber, or does each and every writer compose a single letter each individual week and send the same composition to all of your subscribers they’re assigned to write to?

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Jenn December 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hi Gena,

I’m finally taking the plunge into making my own fermented veggies. Question – I don’t have a water filter. Would you recommend boiling the water first, or using distilled water? I imagine tap is off-limits.

Thanks!

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Nate January 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm

My mom is originally from Europe and used to ferment a lot. One thing I learned from her is to take the liquid out and put it back in the jar once a day to prevent the liquid from becoming slimy. This is more important in hot weather I believe.

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Gena January 17, 2014 at 7:45 am

Great tip — thanks, Nate!

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Angela January 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Hi Gena,
Thanks very much for providing very simple steps. I am really looking forward to try it this weekend. Just want to know how much cabbage or carrot should (e.g full cabbage or 1 kg carrots) I use if I am going to put 4 cups of water as you mentioned. And can we use vinegar instead of water?
Thanks,
Angela

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Gena January 31, 2014 at 8:50 am

Hi Angela. I think vinegar is OK, though the water does get tart like vinegar through the fermentation process. I’m not 100% sure about amounts of veggies since I just eyeballed it based on the size of my 1 quart jars. I’d guess 2-3 cups of shredded veggies per jar! Good luck and enjoy :)

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Marina January 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm

is there a way to do this without the salt? i read somewhere one can use celery juice. have you tried it?
i was also considering using miso instead of regular salt. would that work fine?
thank you so much for the post. i’m surely gonna try this.

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Emily March 8, 2014 at 1:56 am

Thanks for sharing! I have been making these for a few weeks now, but from the Body Ecology Diet recipe. I am having trouble getting my veggies cut up right. When I put them through my cuisinart food processor, they come out so small and mushy. Do you have any suggestions for shredding the veggies so they look like yours in the pictures?? That would be a LIFE SAVER.

Thanks!

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Gena March 8, 2014 at 10:37 am

I’d suggest a mandolin, Emily — you can find a good one on Amazon for not too much money! <3

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