It might sound daunting but how to ferment vegetables truly couldn’t be any easier. Fermented vegetables are a super-quick and easy way to top up and rebalance the bacteria in your gut. These bacteria produce vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial for digestion.
Lacto-fermentation is the name given to the process of preserving food with lacto-acid. The naturally occurring bacteria on fruits and vegetables is called lactobacillus. When placed in an oxygen-free environment, these bacteria convert natural sugars into lactic acid. It’s this that gives fermented food their characteristically tangy flavor.
Benefits Of Fermented Food
Fermentation promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to improve immune function as well as digestive and heart health.
In addition to this, the use of antibiotics kills not only the harmful bacteria, but all of the friendly bacteria too. It damages your gut microbiome, and the probiotics in fermented foods are an excellent way to restore it.
What Equipment You’ll Need
Fermenting vegetables is an easy process that doesn’t require any specialist equipment. You probably have most of it already. You will need:
- A wide mouthed mason jar
- Water, preferably filtered (you can read why, in this post)
- Vegetables of your choice
- A knife or shredder
- A fermentation starter
To Salt Or Not To Salt
Before you start, decide whether you will use salt, whey, or a starter culture. You can buy starters in health stores or even on Amazon.
If you opt for salt, which is my preferred method, then be sure to choose non-processed salt that’s still rich in minerals. Celtic Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt are perfect for fermenting vegetables.
Another option is to use celery juice. You can simply juice or blend a head of celery stalks and then strain it and mix with a starter. It’s worth noting that a salt brine will create lovely crunchy vegetables whilst a celery juice will soften them.
What Vegetables Can I Ferment?
Almost any vegetable can be fermented and it’s a great way to use up that excess veg from your garden or allotment. So what is best for fermenting?
- green beans
- whole pickling cucumbers
How To Ferment Vegetables
Lacto-fermentation is quick and easy. Here’s how you do it:
- Chop or shred your veg. Most vegetables don’t need peeled as the skin holds a lot of fibre and nutrients. You may prefer to peel thicker or tougher skins.
- Place your veg into your jar, leaving 1-2” of headspace.
- Fill your mason jar with a quart of filtered water.
- Mix two and a half tablespoons of salt into your water.
- Add any seasonings you like. I usually add garlic because it goes with pretty much anything and it’s great for your overall health.
- Weigh the vegetables down to make sure they stay completely submerged under the brine. I like to place a cabbage leaf over them to hold them down. This stops any mold forming.
- Loosely cover the top. You can either put the metal top on loosely and release the gas that forms a couple of times every day, or use cheesecloth or paper coffee filters with a rubber band round them to secure.
- Leave it for 3 or 4 days and then taste them. Fermentation is done when they taste good to you!
- Move your veggies to the refrigerator where they will last for a few months.
It’s as easy as that! Almost any vegetable can be fermented and it’s an age-old method of preserving food to provide nutrition all year round!
Maybe you’ve tried it already….Kimchi and Sauerkraut are great examples. What have you tried fermenting?