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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. If you ferment cabbage you get red cabbage sauerkraut!

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.

I do the same with pickled garlic scapes – another vegetable that transforms into a tangy delight once fermented/pickled.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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!)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 959mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen

Marlie

Monday 16th of May 2022

I am trying this for the first time, I did carrots and asparagus. On day 5 they are just kind of tasting like really salty vegetables. In one jar the cabbage leaf has some grey on the top. They are bubbling a little but not a ton. Are they moldy? I used the mason jar with plastic lid… anyone who can help, I don’t want to eat something rotten….and thought it would taste more tangy… thanks!!

Shiloh

Thursday 12th of May 2022

I raised a lot of mixed greens, which I really enjoy, but when I eat them they go right thru me. I read that fermenting them will help digest them. My house gets hot in the summer; will they spoil during the fermenting process?

Jude

Wednesday 11th of May 2022

After you've fermented them long enough to your taste, and put them into sterilised jars, what liquid do you cover them with??

Megan

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Can you ferment any veggies or just some? Like I'm thinking peppers, green beans, maybe some turnips. With this process work for all veggies?

Debbie K

Friday 20th of May 2022

@Megan, any veggie can be fermented.

Gina Matsoukas

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Yes, you can ferment all those types of veggies.

Mimi

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

I very much like the idea of fermented food to increase my gut microbes but I avoid salt in my diet because it is not good for blood pressure. Is it essential to use so much or indeed can it be left out altogethet?

Gina Matsoukas

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Unfortunately, no. There's a necessary salt to water ratio for food to naturally ferment. The result is not salty at all, it's like eating any other store bought fermented food. It's important to have the right amount because it neutralizes the bad bacteria and allows the good bacteria to grow and ferment the food.

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