A Beginner’s Quick Start Guide to Fermenting Vegetables

Selection of fermented food – carrot, cabbage, tomatoes, beetroot

You’ve probably heard about fermented foods, but have you given it a try? Fermenting is a great way to store the bounty from your garden, and eating fermented foods is terrific for your health.


Why ferment vegetables?

Fermentation is allowing good bacteria to grow on your veggies. This bacteria helps to preserve the food and creates lactic acid that brings a healthy balance of bacteria to your gut.


What equipment do I need?

There are containers made especially for fermenting, but all you need is a clean mason jar. You can ferment just about any vegetable. Cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers are popular choices.


What do I do?

Fermenting your vegetables is easy. Follow these simple steps.

  1. Wash your vegetables and cut them into the shapes you want.
  2. Place the vegetables in a mason jar or fermentation container.
  3. Add any spices you like. You can find many fermentation recipes online. Some popular choices for spices are garlic, dill, and basil.
  4. Add a tablespoon of salt. Once you have more experience with fermentation, you will know how much salt tastes right to you.
  5. Fill the jar with water. Leave one to two inches of space at the top.
  6. Be sure the vegetables are below the water level.
  7. Close the lid and allow the vegetables to sit at room temperature for several days.


How long should I wait?

There is no set amount of time for vegetables to ferment. It depends on your tastes. Sample your veggies after about three days to see if you like them.

The taste and aroma of your fermented vegetables will be sour but pleasant.


Where should I keep them?

Store your fermented vegetables in the mason jar in the refrigerator or a cool place like a root cellar. When kept cold, your veggies will continue to ferment but at a slower rate. The fermented flavor will get stronger over time. Keep sampling your vegetables to determine what stage tastes best to you.

Fermentation will keep your vegetables ready to eat for three months to a year.


What if it smells bad?

Every once in a while, your fermentation efforts might go bad. If you open your mason jar and the food smells rotten, throw it out.

Be aware that sometimes a small amount of mold may form at the top of the jar if you haven’t fully submerged your veggies in brine. This growth is not dangerous, and you can just scrape it off.

Fermentation is a wonderful, healthy, sustainable, and simple way to use your vegetables longer. As you try new recipes, you will discover exactly how long you prefer your veggies to ferment as well as the right amount of salt and spices for a result that is perfect for you.

Give fermenting your vegetables a try. You will enjoy your homegrown produce for many months after the gardening season has ended, and your digestive system will thank you.

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