Fermenting is an age-old technique for preserving vegetables all year round. Sauerkraut and kimchi are just the most popular options. In fact, if you know any fermenting vegetables recipe, you can preserve almost any vegetable you like. If you were looking for how to ferment vegetables, we’ll give you the easiest recipe there is. Just gather the ingredients and mason jars and you’ll have your veggies ready for the winter in no time.
How to Ferment Vegetables
At this point, the question is not how to ferment vegetables, but which vegetables. Other than cabbage and cucumbers, you can ferment peppers, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, even tomatoes. You can ferment them in separate jars, or all together in a nice, pick-me-up winter salad. Always choose organic produce when they are in their season. Ripe is always better than green, unless you ferment tomatoes, which will turn into crunchy, tangy, green delight during fermentation.
Fermenting Vegetables Recipe
Once you got the veggies you like to ferment and enough jars to preserve them in, it’s time to decide on the amount of salt. The recommended dose of salt for fermenting is 3 tablespoons for 5 pounds of veggies, but you don’t need to follow this advice if you want to cut down on your family’s sodium intake. Also, salt will slow down the fermenting process by a few days, so keep that in mind.
Make sure you pick glass or ceramic jars, with appropriate lids. The veggies will ferment fine in plastic and metal, but considering the fact that they will stay in those containers for months, it may not turn out to be much healthy if chemicals leak inside the containers. Lids are also very important for this fermenting vegetables recipe. there are fermenting vessels sold on the market just for this occasion, but if you don’t feel like investing much in this process you can choose other solutions. You can use a plate smaller than the jar’s mouth, or just cover the jar with a cheese cloth to let the fermentation process start easily.
Start Fermenting Vegetables
The only ingredients you need are the veggies you want to ferment, water and a starter culture. You can add dried starter culture, or whey or kefir grains to your veggies. You can also ferment vegetables with salt alone, but you need to be more patient until the fermentation starts. Wash and chop your veggies into bite size chunks. If you like the end result to be softer, you can steam the vegetables for 10 minutes before adding them to the jars. This works best on carrots, beets, cauliflower and broccoli.
How to Pickle Vegetables – The Process
- If you’re fermenting vegetables with salt alone, you can sprinkle the amount you want to use directly on the veggies. Massage them, to help the salt break the walls of the veggies, so they can release their juices and ferment faster. If you want to make a brine, mix the salt in the appropriate amount of water and stir until it’s dissolved. Using a starter culture is easier. All you need to do is add it to the jar before the water and vegetables. Dried starter culture comes in a package with instructions, so follow those for best results.
- Once you made the brine, it’s time to fill the jars. Make sure the veggies are packed well inside, and there’s at least an inch of empty space at the top. To ferment and not rot, every piece should be emerged in the water. If you miscalculated the amount of water, you can add fresh water until all veggies are covered.
- Covering the jars may be tricky. You should cover the jars but not restrict the airflow inside the jar. You can use a smaller jar that fits inside the large jar, or a small plate, smaller than the jar’s mouth. Make sure you top them with a heavy rock, so that it keeps the ingredients from popping out. at last, cover the jar with a cloth, to prevent insect from tasting it first.
- Finally, your veggies are ready to undergo a fermentation process. Usually, they will start fermenting right away. So you can keep them in a room temperature for only a day or two before locking them up tight and placing them on a rack in your basement. Most people only keep them open to overnight, then lock the lids and let this process occur naturally inside the jar as time passes. Of course, you can keep them open for a few days, but you will have to check them daily to do a taste test and check for bugs.
Tips for fermenting vegetables
If you keep your fermented jars for over 5 months, some of them may develop mold on the top. This mold is harmless and it won’t ruin the juices or veggies. You can just scrape if off and serve your healthy veggies at the dinner table.
Transferring your veggie jars to a cooler place is not necessary if you plan on eating them right away. Cooler temperatures slow down the fermentation process, which will aid in keeping your veggies fresh for the whole year. If you want to eat them right away, it’s actually better to keep them at room temperature at all times, or until they ferment well.
Most pickled products we buy from stores are mostly fermented with distilled vinegar. The remaining juice from your store bought pickles is most likely not an appropriate fermentation solution.
If you see a cloudy substance floating around in your jars, that’s an excellent sign of perfect fermentation process. The cloudy substance is called the mother and it may multiply as the culture increases. When a fermenting juice has this cloudy substance, you can use it for fermenting another batch of veggies. It will be weaker and you may need to add salt again, but it’s a self-sustaining starter culture.
Feel free to add spices and herbs to your pickled veggies. You can add rosemary, basil, oregano, chives, sage, dill or even whole garlic cloves. If you like to add seeds, most people add fennel, coriander and mustard seeds.