You'd be forgiven for thinking fermenting your own vegetables sounds like a long, tedious and difficult process, however if that's what's stopped you from trying it, then you're really missing out. We're here to tell you that not only is fermentation not as hard as you thought but it actually makes veggies taste waaay better than they normally do (meaning it's worth it), saves you money, and reduces food waste!
But before we get into all that, let's start off with the basics.
The fermentation process begins with lacto-fermentation, which is essentially just a fancy way of saying that it's a method of food preservation that also enhances the nutrient content of the food. This process stops the growth of harmful bacteria, and increases the vitamin and enzyme levels of the vegetables you choose to preserve, also making them more easily digestible.
These vegetables can be sliced, grated, chopped or whole, which are then placed in a brine of salt and water for a period of time at room temperature so all the necessary and good bacteria can develop.
If this is all still sounding a bit confusing then luckily for you, we've put together all the do's and don'ts on how to exactly ferment veggies. This will have you serving up delicious, nutrient-filled food in no time.
Choose Your Fermenting Equipment
Vegetables can be fermented in a number of things such as mason jars or glass bowls but we recommend using a product like the Kilner Fermentation Set.
This product will allow you to embrace the healthy lifestyle when you're cooking and make sure you can serve fermented produce all year. Made out of high-quality and durable glass, this kit comes with everything you need to create fantastic tasting dill pickles or sauerkraut every time.
This easy-to-assemble fermentation kit comes with a 3 litre glass fermenting jar, 1 x silicone lid, 1 x air lock and 2 x ceramic stones.
Prepare Your Vegetables
There are a number of ways that you can prepare you veggies for fermentation. This will obviously depend on what vegetables you choose!
Slice:Try to slice firm vegetables thinly and soft vegetables thickly to help preserve their shape during fermentation.
Grate: You should be grating hard or crunchy vegetables (such as zucchini) if you want to ferment them. These vegetables often have a texture of a relish once finished.
Chop: It's obviously up to you how you want to chop your vegetables but bite sized pieces usually work better. Try fermenting chopped cauliflower or carrot for the perfect, healthy snack!
Whole: Small vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, radishes, and green beans work best when they remain whole.
Use Salt To Begin The Fermentation Process
Sea salt is the best option when it comes to fermentation however you may find that some recipes suggest you use fresh whey as a fermentation starter. They do the same thing so feel free to use either.
You can also use a vegetable starter culture for a faster fermentation process.
Preparing The Brine
You need enough brine to submerge your vegetables completely. In order to achieve the perfect fermentation process, you need a 2% brine. The best way to think about this is, for every 100 grams of vegetables, you should add 2 grams of salt.
To complete the brine you must use filtered water that's free from chlorine or fluoride.
Weigh The Vegetables Down
This is where the ceramic stones come in!
You need to weigh down your vegetables so that the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation process rises up and pushes out any oxygen that remains at the top of the jar or storage container.
If you don't do this, your vegetables won't ferment properly.
Leave The Vegetables At Room Temperature
The fermentation process may vary depending on the temperature they're stored at, the quantity of salt used and the nature of the vegetable. After leaving your veggies at room temperature for about 3 days, taste it, and if they're not as acidic as you want them, leave them and taste them after another 3 days and so on.
This process could take anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks. Once you're happy with the taste, move your vegetables into the fridge where you can enjoy them for months to come.
But enough reading!
We reckon that sometimes it's easier to see the product in action so we've popped a video below for you to check out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Help! There are some pieces of vegetables escaping the brine, what should I do?
Don't stress if some pieces of vegetables float to the surface, this is perfectly normal and should be expected. Just remove those pieces!
What's the ideal temperature for fermentation?
The temperature you should be aiming for is around 17.8ºC - 24ºC. Depending on the temperature of your room, the fermentation process can be slower or faster. We recommend tasting your mixture every couple of days.
I spy mould, is this bad?
Mould on the top of your mixture means that there's been some air exposure but it's not all bad news! If the mould is white in colour then it's perfectly safe for you to remove this using a skimmer, however if the mould is dark in colour then you'll have to throw it out and start again.
Pro Tip: Clean the rim of the jar thoroughly before resealing, making sure you've removed any food debris.
What kind of vegetables can I ferment?
The good news is that almost every vegetable can be fermented! This includes cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, chilli, beetroot, celery, cucumber, watermelon rind, baby eggplant, capsicum, and the list goes on....
However vegetables that are high in chlorophyll (like kale and spinach) shouldn't be fermented.
Spiced Fermented Beetroot
Serves: 4 cups
- 450g of beetroot, trimmed and scrubbed
- 1 1/2 tsp of salt, or more as needed
- 1 cup of water, or more as needed
- 1 cinnamon stick
1. Slice the beetroot into ½-cm-thick rounds. If the pieces are wider than the jar, cut the slices into half-moons.
2. Dissolve the salt into the water at a ratio of 1½ teaspoons of salt to 1 cup water – scaling up, if necessary.
3. Pack the fermentation jar with half of the beetroot slices. Add the cinnamon stick, followed by the remaining slices to the jar. Then pour the salt water over the beetroot until everything's fully covered. Weigh the beetroot down with the ceramic stones.
4. Pop the lid on and place the jar in a moderately cool location, about 18ºC to 21ºC for about 2 weeks, checking on it and tasting it every 3 days to make sure it's fermenting nicely.
5. Once ready, place it in the fridge where you can enjoy it for up to 2 months!