Often times my eyes are bigger than my stomach when it comes to all the beautiful produce at our local bay area farmers markets. When you notice that you might not get to all of the veggies in your fridge before it's too late, a great way to preserve them (and get an extra bang for your buck!) is to ferment them.
It may sound like a daunting project, and another thing to keep any eye on and babysit during the week, but seriously, it probably takes a total of 15 minutes of actual "work" to reap the reward of creating a delicious, probiotic snack that is way cheaper than store-bought probiotics!
Using only salt and water, you can start the process of Lacto-Fermentation (naturally occurring bacteria that feed on sugar and starches producing Lactic Acid).
Fermentation of your food:
- preserves the food
- breaks down the food for easier digestion
- creates beneficial enzymes that aid digestion
- unlocks B-vitamins in your food
- cultivates a myriad of healthy probiotic strains
Follow this simple recipe below to start fermenting veggies today.
1 quart sized, wide mouth mason jar
1 ceramic weight (can substitute a bag of rocks or other ideas here)
1 airlock (can substitute a normal lid, must "burp" daily to release gasses)
Enough chopped veggies to fill a quart sized jar (root vegetables are a great place to start)
1.5 tbs sea salt per quart of veggies to ferment (we use Real Salt- the same salt used in our bone broth!)
Seasoning of choice (beware of too much garlic, lemon peel and peppercorns are a great first combo)
1. Wash thoroughly and chop all veggies to be fermented. The smaller the cut, the quicker they will ferment due to more surface area. I tend to quarter carrots the long way, keep green beans whole, quarter baby beets, and do 1/2 in thick half moons or turnips or radishes.
2. Mix high quality sea salt into 1 quart of filtered water, shake until dissolved and set aside. Use a bit more if doing whole veggies or bigger size chunks, less salt if shredding to make a relish.
3. Clean fermentation jar and pack it with veggies to be fermented, adding in any spices you might like. I tend to go easy on the garlic, unless I'm doing dill cucumber pickles, as it can easily dominate flavor. Lemon peel and peppercorns are my usual go to, with maybe just 1 small clove of garlic, sliced in half.
4. Pour the brine over the veggies to cover.
5. Put the fermentation weight on top of veggies and push down so that all veggies will stay submerged through the fermentation. Any exposed veggies or herbs will mold.
6. Make sure there's at least 1 inch of room from top of jar, as brine sometimes leaks over during the fermentation process.
7. Now fill the airlock with water to Fill Line and screw the lid on.
8. Place in moderate to warm area in your house with a towel underneath in case of any overflow. Ferment for 3-10 days, depending on ambient temperature of the room. The warmer the room temperature, the quicker the ferment. You'll know you're on the right track when you see small bubbles form in the jar. This is the fermentation process happening right before your eyes! Learn more about Lacto-Fermentation here.
9. Don't be afraid to taste test (always with a clean fork!) during the process to watch the flavor go from salty to delicious and sour over time. You'll know when they're ready to be served. When they reach the desired ferment stage, remove the weight, replace air lock lid with a regular lid, and store in fridge for consumption.
Tip: If you love how your ferments turned out and you want to replicate the same veggie and spice combo again, reserve some of the previous brine to pour into the new batch (about 1 cups worth). This will speed up the fermentation process and help create a more diverse range of healthy bacteria in your veggies!
These are some pictures taken during a taste test of our lemon-pepper carrots, plain fermented beets, and cauliflower stem-cabbage sauerkraut.
Cultures For Health (for recipes and troubleshooting guides)
Preserved Goods (for fermentation supplies and classes- Bay Area only)
Cultured Pickle (our favorite local fermentation shop! Best kombucha ever!)