How To Ferment Vegetables

An easy homemade tutorial on how to ferment vegetables in a mason jar.

You’re probably thinking I’ve caught the hippie train straight out of here with this post but hear me out.

Do you like pickles? Yes? (note -you should check out this post on how to make simple homemade pickles and spicy garlic dill pickles if so).

Ok then, you’re going to like fermented vegetables. 

So read on.

An easy homemade tutorial on how to ferment vegetables in a mason jar.

Unfortunately, I had to be on antibiotics 3 times over the last 6 months.

I absolutely hate taking them and believe me, if there was a way I could’ve avoided it, I would’ve.

I’m a huge proponent of probiotics so while I was filling prescriptions in the drug store these past few months, I was simultaneously buying some kick ass probiotics to try and help keep some good bacteria in my system.

And let me tell you, the *good* probiotic pills, yeah, well they’re costly.

Six times more costly than the antibiotics in fact.

So, when the second round of antibiotics came around, I decided that instead of spending $30 on probiotic pills and $4 kombucha bottles every time I ventured into the hippie-mart (my loving name for the local natural foods store), I should probably look into this whole lacto-fermented vegetable thing.

Lacto-fermented vegetables

Lacto-fermented…it sounds crazy, right?

First thing I thought was “wait, there’s milk in this?”

Um, no. Lacto, in this case, doesn’t refer to milk, it refers to lactic-acid.

The naturally occurring bacteria on fruits and vegetables is called lactobacillus. When they’re placed in an oxygen free environment, the bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid which is what gives fermented foods their characteristic tangy/sour flavor.

So now that the science lesson is out of the way, here’s the cool part:

vegetables + water + salt + a few days = a probiotic powerhouse of tangy vegetable deliciousness.

Bonus: it doesn’t cost $30 and they’ll last in the fridge for months.

How to Ferment Vegetables

What you’ll need to ferment vegetables:

You can literally ferment whatever vegetables you like.

They’re perfect for snacking on or adding to your meals for a probiotic boost. I’ve been adding them to salads, on top of my protein with lunch or dinner or, just picking at them throughout the day when I’m bored.

Yeah, a lot of that.

And this is where I’m going to sound like a total nerd, but every time I eat them I silently say “take that, antibiotics, you bitch.”

Kimchi is an Asian version of fermented vegetables so if you like that, you’ll definitely like these fermented vegetables.

Also make sure to try out this bulgogi kimchi rice plate and this kimchi potato hash.

More pickled recipes to try if you love the taste of fermented vegetables:

Spicy Pickled Pineapple
Balsamic Pickled Shiitake Crostini
Pickled Fennel Citrus Salad
Pickled Blueberry Panzanella Salad
Mango Melon Soup with Pickled Cucumber

How to ferment vegetables

How to ferment vegetables

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 4 days
Total Time: 4 days

An easy homemade tutorial on how to lacto-ferment vegetables in a mason jar.


  • sliced or chopped vegetables (anything will do, I really like broccoli, radishes and carrots)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 quart wide mouth mason jar
  • plastic lid (not necessary, but if you're going to do this often, the regular metal lids will corrode from the acid)
  • any spices or herbs you like (peppercorns, dill, basil, bay leaf, etc.)
  • 1 small cabbage leaf


  1. Place vegetables and any spices/herbs you're using in the mason jar right up to the bottom of the neck, there should be about 1 inch of space to the top.
  2. Stir the salt and water together until dissolved.
  3. Pour the salt water over the vegetables until it reaches just below the top of the jar. There should be about 1/2 inch of room left.
  4. Fold a small cabbage leaf and press it down on top of the vegetables so that it keeps the vegetables submerged in the salt water. This isn't necessary, but helps make sure the vegetables are submerged. Feel free to skip this step if you don't have cabbage on hand.
  5. Close the lid on the jar tightly and place the jars out of direct sunlight in a relatively moderate temperature (68-75 degrees).
  6. You will start to see some bubbling around day 2 or so. After day 2, over a sink (in case it leaks/drips), gently loosen the lids to let some of the gas escape once or twice a day.
  7. The vegetables are ready anywhere from day 4-10. The longer they sit, the more tangy they'll be. Taste them starting on day 4 to figure out your preference. I like them best around day 5 or 6.
  8. Once you decide they're the level of sourness you're looking for, place the the jar in the refrigerator where it will keep for a couple of months (not that they'll last that long!)


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filed in: Guides


    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      yes! I want to do fruit next :) Can’t get pickled peaches out of my mind…

  1. Alison Z

    When you put the fermented veggies in the fridge, will the cold stop the fermenting process where it is? They look super yummy, thanks! (Also, made portobellos with the pickled jalapeno hash last weekend, delicious!)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      It doesn’t stop it entirely but it slows it down A LOT. You’ll still hear some gas release when you open the jar after being in the fridge.

  2. Sloane @ Life Food and Beer

    I’ve had multiple infections this year too and took 3 rounds of Antibiotic but kept having problems and even more problems from taking the meds. I started researching “hippie” medicine and started taking probiotics and eating lots of yogurt. It’s actually helped a lot. I’m really excited about this post, though. I’m SO TIRED of yogurt! I’ve also read about the benefits of raw garlic for bacterial infections.

    1. Usama

      Bro use cultured vegetables. Antibiotics kill ur gd bacteria. I also take multiple antibiotics and my condition worsen day by day bt there is a cure in cultured foods. Move towards cultured foods

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    1. Brian Murray

      Hi I have fermented vegetables for the first time and followed all steps correctly. Day 5 of fermentation I tasted them and to be quite honest tasted bitter tangy and not convinced at all ? ! Is this the taste they are supposed to be ? Not sure about this

      1. Emotionally Naked

        It’s a taste you have to get used to but yeah they are tangy and can be bitter depending on what veggies you put in there. After a while they will taste good to you but at first your palate might resist.

  4. holly

    question – I have never done this before but lots of recipes I have seen before are using some sort of probiotic starter or something. is this necessary or can you just use water and salt?

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I’ve seen it too. It’s not necessary though, just water and salt will work just fine :)

      1. Ewa Rzymkowska

        Also, some spices like mustard seeds or a piece of fresh horseradish root. We make our fermented food like this in Poland😉

  5. holly

    Hi there, it’s me again. I am on day 3. I let off some gas as instructed (should have done it yesterday). One of the jars let off quite dramatically and I lost some liquid, taking it under the veg so I topped it up. Was that the right thing to do? Also, I tried to press the veg down with a big round slice of apple (didn’t have any cabbage) and it worked when I first put it in the jar but the apple turned a brown and green colour so I took it out and replaced it with some baking paper. (I was really worried about mould, especially after I had to fully open the jar and top up the liquid. What’s the deal on any veg not being fully immersed? Will it spoil the whole jar or what?

    Sorry to be a pain, I am very interested in doing this and really like to understand how things work and get them right.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      If you lose liquid when you let the gasses escape, just add a little water until the vegetables are covered again. If they’re exposed to air, they might form some mold. Honestly, it’s nothing to freak out about. Just scrape it off as best you can and you can still eat the fermented vegetables below it. This is pretty common actually, especially in warm weather.

      1. Holly

        Hey there,

        Thanks for your last reply. You are so good at responding! Today was day 5 and I tried the veg. The good news is that they are definitely edible but quite salty. Does that mean I need to leave them longer? They’re not very tangy at all.

        1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

          Hmm…did you use a quart size mason jar? Just want to make sure the water to salt ratio is right b/c at 1 1/2T of salt, they don’t seem particularly salty to me. I’m surprised there’s no “tang” to them yet after 5 days. You can let them sit longer as they should just get more tangy each day.

      2. Helen X

        Hi. Been reading the comments and I’ve used baking paper to push down the vegetables instead of cabbage too. Will any nastiest leach out of the paper

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      It doesn’t although I would use the best available water you have at your disposal. I use tap water but we have a basic filter on it where it enters the house from the well.

      1. Susan

        I have noticed questions about water and veggies not fermenting, if you have a public water source with chlorine added it will keep your fermentation from happening. In this case use filtered water or let the chlorine “gass off” before using, though I wouldn’t use public water either way because of other added chemicals like fluoride.

    2. Michael

      Commercial spring water may have chlorine or other additives as required by the FDA to make it “safe”. Use distilled water. It’s readily available at your local pharmacy/CVS/Walgreens/etc. and much cheaper than spring water.

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    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Have you loosened the lid a little and heard the gasses leaving (like you would if you opened soda)? If not, try that and see. If you hear something, even if faint, you’re good.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I got them off amazon. I linked to it in the post and in the recipe, just click on the plastic lid link (it’s in that teal/green color) and it will take you to the ones I bought on Amazon.

      1. Rebecca

        Love my first time making these. 4 large Mason jars and 1 super large jar. I used regular standard lids on 3 jars, and 2 mason jar lids on others. The regular standard jar lid, (jelly. Pb, pickle or anything), works great as long as it seals tight. I’ve had better results and next time I’ll use regular lids or plastic. My next thing is kimchi spicy and I love tempeh. Any advice on making tempeh? I’m not a meat eater, but these foods can be hard to find, and expensive. Thanks!!!;)

        1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

          Hi Rebecca- Sorry for the late reply. I’ve never tried fermenting tempeh so I’m not much help there. Good luck!

  7. Connie

    While shopping to make some fermented veggies, I wondered how “leafy” veggies might do. Have you ever tried this? I was thinking about mustard greens, cilantro, swiss chard etc.

  8. Beki

    I see in most recipes that the Jarvis only filled to the neck. Yet it’s suppose to be an oxygen free environment. Is the space between the end of the fill at the neck and the jar lid an oxygen issue?

    1. Sia

      If the veggies are all below the brine then the veggies are in an anaerobic environment. If you have problems with the veggies floating, you can get pickle weights to hold them under.

  9. Billy

    This is great! I really want to try fermenting my own stuff at home so I don’t have to buy anything from the grocery store any longer. I don’t really know how much I spend but I can guarantee its probably much easier and cheaper to just make my own! I’ll definitely give this recipe a try, thanks for sharing!


        Question: When hot bathing, should I leave the fermenting liquid in the jar? Probably a stupid question, but I would be afraid that the jars would become too pressurized and maybe burst? Or does the hot bath stop the fermenting process all together? I am the Assistant Coordinator for our local Farmers Market and pickled everything we grow in our community garden. For the probiotics aspect I was going to see about fermenting and then hot bathing. Do the probiotics diminish with the hot bath? That particular question came up but wasn’t addressed.

        Thanks for the help.


        1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

          Hi Sharon- there is no hot bath in this recipe and I haven’t experimented with doing that after the fermentation so I can’t really say how that would or wouldn’t work.

  10. Kathy

    OK followed the recipe exactly. They bubbled and squirted like crazy. I was so excited it worked, But…. I went to taste the vegetables and they were Soooooo salty. What did I do wrong?

  11. Jane Buie

    I did this with a friend and I misunderstood and did not tighten the lid down. The fluid in the jar has turned cloudy and I’m afraid to eat it now that I read your blog about tightening the lids !

  12. Ivory

    Everyone please use distilled water. And if it’s too salty, use less salt. Did you mean to put 1 1/2 tsp, instead of tbsp?

    1. Ellen

      Can you use filtered? I used tap water and it is too salty. Can I do something to remedy this batch?

      1. Lois Van Leuven

        I just saw this, and I used fine, and it was salty. Will use coarse next time and see what happens. Maybe in recipe, state that you are using coarse. That will help the rest of us. Thanks. :)

  13. Julie

    So excited to find youre extremely informative post on fermentation. I think I must have gotten on the same train as you. Haha. I had trouble finding a recipe that didnt involve buying a bunch of gimmicky products. Just a good old mason jar like my grandma used!!!

  14. Pam

    I tried making sauerkraut with Cutting Edge cultures and it was so nasty! I want to try veggies using the salt method. Is Himalayan salt okay, and can I use a silicon lid with a specially designed slit to allow the gas to release on its own?

    1. Papricat

      Himalayan salt is great for fermented veggies ;) (also for sauerkraut and fermented polish cucumbers kiszone)

  15. Todd

    I am also seeing some cloudy liquid – did that other post about the cloudy ever get answered? Still smells ok, and is bubbling like mad

    1. Papricat

      Cloudy liquid is normal if smell isn’t off, even some mould on top is ok, you just should wash mould covered veggies before eating. Both are coused by fermenting bacteria.

  16. txgrandma

    I’ve been fermenting for a while and this is the best article I’ve come across. It’s clear and short. Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Dawn

      Diane, the spice choice is totally up to you. Some people use a few peppercorns, others use some dill weed. I’ve even heard of some using cilantro or coriander seeds. Mustard seeds are also a good choice. I use dill with my cauliflower/carrot/onion ferments. Many people think dill works great with any veggie ferment. Good luck!

  17. Paulpato

    Do you ever add any sweetener, sugar or honey, to make sweet-sour fermented veggies. If yes, which veggies and how much sweetener?

  18. Alex


    Thank you for being so concise. It’s less intimidating and I feel like I can start this right now – unlike everywhere else I searched. So thank you for your brevity and simplicity.


  19. Mary Gilbert

    I’ve just started making kombucha which is similar but as a drink. I am so excited! I can’t wait to try your recipe with vegetables!

  20. michael werboweckyj

    Thanks for the info ! I’m 65 male , exceptional shape and health , every fall I was the slave , hand shredding and salting bushels of cabbage and carrots to fill a 60 gallon oak barrel , canning everything under the sun and mincing crazy amounts of pork to fill 2 – 10 gallon crocks with sausages . We had a pretty large cold room in the basement , we never bought canned or processed food . I started working heavy construction at 14 and have rarely been to a doctor ! I’m getting more back to consuming what I grew up with and I can really feel the difference ! Processed at home Is best ! Thank You !

  21. Kathy Jackson

    I just tried sauerkraut with a recipe from another site and it turned out WONDERFUL. My husband even likes it and he isn’t a fan of sauerkraut. Now, I’m hooked and can’t wait to make some of these veggies! Thank you for the simple recipe…I’ll repost after I’ve tried it!

      1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

        Not sure what you mean – the recipe to make the fermented vegetables is at the bottom of the post.

  22. Brigitte Krug

    Hi Gina
    Do I have to stirilising jars and lids and what would be the best method to do so ? Thanks for your posts love it
    Brigitte Australia

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      You don’t have to go through the sterilizing process like you would if you were actually canning something.

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  24. Jerry Oliver

    Chlorine and fluoride prevented my first batch from fermenting for over a month, first time.
    Thereafter I use only distilled water. Begins fermenting 1n 30 hours.
    Any veg is now my fave for snacking. Try Chinese mustard greens!

  25. Fiona

    I want to start fermenting vegetables, but different sites are giving different information on how to do it. For cabbage, another site said that just cabbage and salt, and not adding water. The idea is that the salt draws the water out of the cabbage, and after several hours there is supposed to be enough liquid to submerge the cabbage. But you recommend making a brine with water and salt. Not sure which directions I should follow.

    1. Tobias Brennvik

      Don’t need water for cabbage, just make sure something is pushing it down and water will computer of the cabbage naturally :)

    2. Dawn

      Fiona, cabbage is one veggie that will release lots of liquid when it is exposed to salt. If you want to be really sure, add salt to the cabbage, then “massage” the cabbage for 5-10 minutes to bring out the water. When you put it in the jar, you will see that there is plenty of liquid brine to cover the cabbage. With other veggies that don’t release liquid, you need to create your own brine (salt plus water) to ensure all the veggies are totally submerged in brine.

  26. Katie C

    I am excited I found your post! Last year my family had a brutal
    Cold and flu season. I finally found master tonic, which I feel really gave us the immunity boast we needed. I want to take it one step further and make it with fermented veggies! Thanks so much!!!

  27. SH

    Recently I learned that you dont have to add water if you salt the veg and let it sit overnnight so the juices escape. Then you jar it up juice and all. if you need to add water to completely cover, go ahead.

    Doing the salt brine in the beginning is simply a time saver. In this case salt is optional as its just for flavor. (see John Bergman on you tube, he has a video tutorial on this).

  28. Donna Linke

    Someone above asked what to do with the brine after the veggies are consumed. It is FULL of probiotics, too! I love to take a swig or two of it from the jar as I snack on the veggies…it’s delicious! I’ve been making sauerkraut for years. Whatever juice is left in the crock after the sauerkraut gets jarred up gets saved in its own jar & we drink it up a few sips at a time. Yum!

  29. Eileen Richards

    Can you ferment frozen veggies? I always have small amounts left in several bags in the freezer. And when is it safe to hot bath the jars. After fermentation stops? I worry the jar would explode if sealed before.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I’ve never done it but there would be nothing wrong with doing so if you wanted.

    2. Mitch

      Debbie Bothwell,

      It’s a lot more helpful to measure your salt by weight not volume. Different types of salt will weigh differently. You want to create a 3% solution. Your 16 cups of water (1 gallon) weighs 3,785 grams. 3,785 X .03 = 113.5 grams of salt needed. It’s a simple calculation you can use for any amount of brine.

  30. Dave

    Instead of using sea salt, use Himalayan Pink Salt, brings out the flavor of your veggies. You’ll thank me later.

      1. Dawn

        Alayna, you let your veggies ferment for the same amount of time whether you use sea salt or Himalayan Pink Salt.

  31. Debbie bothwell

    I just started fermenting veggies gallon jars.6 tbsp of sea salt to 16 cups water is this OK..??? ON A FERMENT SITE BUT NO 1 WOULD ANSWER MY QUESTIONS.SO WATCHED UTUBE.So glad I found u.thx

  32. Emma

    I fermented a jar of baby carrots with juice from a store-bought sauerkraut and salt water. From the beginning I noticed small amount of white fuzzy stuff on the bottom of jar. Each day the white fuzzy stuff grew a bit on the bottom as well on the tip of baby carrots.

    I think the fermentation is done, and the jar is moved to the fridge. But I’m afraid of eating them because of the this white fuzzy stuff. I have taken a picture of it if you want to see it.

    1. Terri steelman

      You have no idea how much you have helped me. I have severe Adhd and for the past 6 months chronic diarrea. My Dr said if you heal your gut you will heal your head. After some research I was all in. First I dewormed myself…even though my test results all said no parasites. They were wrong by the way. Next….heal my gut. I knew about probiotics but prebiotics was new. So I made lots of fermented veggies with your recipe. My gut got better and when it started working right and delivering all the nutrients to my brain and the rest of my body I got so much better. I became me again. Why didn’t anyone tell me how to heal my gut. Unbelievable…it really made a difference in my health and my brain. Thank you so much. There are no words to describe the difference in my body and my brain.

  33. Anne Gordon

    I would be so grateful if you could translate your measurements (gallons, quarts, etc..) into smaller proportions e.g. pint & sub-divisions, pounds & ounces. For example, how much salt to 1/2 pint of water? Thanks for your great recipe.

  34. Scott L. sls4ak

    Dropping to a half pint for fermentation is getting tiny. I usually pickle in a five to ten gallon crock. You may want to commit to a quart at a time at least. If I remember correctly quart jar was the original posted recipe. I didn’t read all comments on the site, but would underscore the need for kosher or pickling salt. Iodized salt is a wonderful way to get iodine in most diets, but bad for pickles. Make sure the salt is iodine free.

  35. Laurie Morgan

    I just made a batch of your cultured veggies! Can’t wait to try! I have been making some Very Tasty Garlic, Dill Cauliflower kraut for some time now but have not ventured beyond that. My kraut recipe is: 1 lg head of dense green cabbage, 1/2 head of cauliflower, 2 lg cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbsp of dill, 3 tbsp of Celtic Sea salt (course) leaves from cabbage
    Shred cabbage to desired size (I like mine small)
    Add salt, garlic and dill. Mash or squeeze until cabbage releases liquid (usually about 15 minutes) break cauliflower into small pieces and mix into cabbage. Pack into a gallon jar pressing down every couple inches. Cut cabbage leaves using lid to jar for size and tuck around top of cabbage pressing down below liquid. I use glass weights to keep down and seal with lid, I prefer the Easy Fermenter lid, as it allows gas to escape and keeps air out. I wait 7 to 10 days and YUM!

  36. Laura

    Good ideas. I have used garlic, onion and ginger since I started but never thought of caraway or dill seeds so will give this a shot today.

  37. Roxane Scherek

    I just bought a big thing of fine Himalayan pink salt – any idea how much of this to use, instead of coarse, so I don’t have to go buy more salt..? Thank you!

  38. Amanda

    Someone above posted a guideline of 3% brine solution= 113.5g salt per gallon- so if you have a kitchen scale you could weigh your salt.
    1gallom=4 quarts, so approx. 28.375g salt per quart?
    That is what I am going to try:)
    The amount of salt will be heavily influenced by grain size.

    1. Amanda

      However, I am curious to know how ‘vegatable pack’ influences this bc that makes a HUGE difference. Some jars might only have .25-.5 quarts water added. Can a brine solution be made separately at 3% and added as needed or should one quart have 28.375g salt regardless of amount of water as the vegetables absorb it? I’m guessing the latter as the recipe calls to add the right amount of salt to only 2 cups water.
      The recipe calls for 1.5T coarse salt per quart when a quart=53.29T=2.8% **total volume**.
      If it were me, I would weigh the salt and try around 28g a quart or a bit under bc too much salt is far worse:p

  39. Jenn

    Hi, there!
    I once made sauerkraut in my cupboard using basically the same directions here; my question is, I am in an apartment where there is usually no direct sunlight in any area.. it never reaches my balcony or windows during the day. Can I be successful fermenting veggies in my cupboard like I did with sauerkraut, or is the Direct sunlight required? Thanks in advance and GREAT recipe!

    1. Sandy Karlin

      Hi Jenn,
      The instructions say to keep the jars out of direct sunlight. From your description, anywhere in your apartment will work fine since there’s no direct sunlight.

  40. Susan Dubose

    Keep it immersed in the brine. I’ve been fermenting for years. We actually use the brine as a salad dressing after we’ve finished the vegetables. It contains the probiotics.

  41. Norma

    I live in a city that gets daily temps of 105 and higher. My kitchen is extremely warm. Does this affect the process? If yes, what should I do?

  42. Raina Gates

    I didn’t know not to use iodized salt and used half iodized sea salt and half pickling salt before reading the comments, do you think it will be ok? What does the iodine do to it?


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