How To Ferment Vegetables

Fermenting vegetables is a simple, straightforward process. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create ferments without a recipe in no time at all! The best part is that you can mix and match veggies to create your own unique combinations. 
Different vegetables all contain various health properties; so each combination is going to provide diversified benefits. Plus, different ferments can be enjoyed in various ways. Serve kimchi alongside a meat dish to aid in digestion. Use mushrooms and olives to prepare a gourmet salad. Try sauerkraut on a sandwich to lend a bit of crunch. The fun is in thinking outside the box (or jar, in this case). 

My Favorite Fermented Vegetables:

Sauerkraut (“A Decoction for Heroes”)
Mixed Veggie Sauerkraut
Dilly Beans
Fermented Salsa
Probiotic Pickles
Beets/Beet Kvass

There are so many types of fermented vegetables all over the world… the list goes on and on. Now that you have some ideas of what to ferment, I’m going to take you through the step-by-step process of how to ferment.

How to Ferment Vegetables: 

  1. Chop the vegetables into similar-sized chunks or shreds. Place them in a bowl. 
  2. Add salt and mix thoroughly, using your hands to massage the veggies. As a general rule, use 3-4 tablespoons of salt per gallon (and about 5 pounds of produce per gallon). 
  3. Pack the vegetables into a one-gallon crock or jar. Use your fist or a wooden tamper to help you along.
  4. Create an anaerobic environment by getting all the air bubbles out as you pack it down. Push until the brine starts to rise to the top of the veggies. 
  5. Place a saucer or plate on top of the vegetables. Try to get one that fits as close to the edges as possible. Put a weight on top of that. A jar of water works well. 
  6. Cover everything with a cloth so no bugs get inside.
  7. During the first week, push it down daily to help keep the vegetables under the brine. Sometimes it takes a day or two to get the brine to stay above the veggies. This will help prevent mold from forming. 
  8. Have a taste after a week and see if you like it. You can let it ferment as long as you wish, but most people prefer 2-4 weeks of fermentation time in small one-gallon batches. When it’s too young, it imparts a carbonated feeling on your tongue. This will disappear after about a week.
  9. It’s ideal to ferment at 55-65° F. Put the jar in a pantry, root cellar or cupboard, or place it on your kitchen counter. If it gets below or above this temperature it will be fine, but the best flavors develop within this range. 
  10. When it’s ready, scrape off the top layer and enjoy the fresh healthy goodness below.

If mold forms, not all is lost. This is a test of your senses. Scrape off the mold and compost it. If the sauerkraut underneath smells okay, taste it. If it tastes off, spit it out!

If you get stuck or have a question about your ferment, email me.