Fermented Vegetables

Humans have been fermenting foods since ancient times.  It is only in the past 50 years or so that fermented foods have begun to disappear from the standard American diet.  This is very unfortunate as fermented foods have a lot of nutritional benefits and are important to overall health.  The fermentation process enriches food with protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins.  Eating fermented foods with meals can improve the digestive process because of the enzymes present.  Fermented foods also contain probiotics, the good bacteria that play vital roles in balancing the gut flora, which in turn has critical immune system functions. This post explains how to easily ferment vegetables at home, using only salt and vegetables.  I use only organic foods as much as possible.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 3 beets
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt

The exact amount of the vegetables used will depend on the size of the jars that you have available and how much fermented vegetables you want to make.  If you use the entire head of cabbage or more vegetables than I have listed above, increase the salt to 2 tablespoons.

Step 1:

Roughly chop a half of the head of cabbage and place in a large bowl.

Step 2:

Peel the beets and chop roughly into 1 inch pieces.  Add the beets to the bowl with the cabbage.

Step 3:

Peel the carrots and slice into thin pieces.  Alternatively, you could also shred the carrots if you wish.  Add the carrots to the bowl with the cabbage and beets.

Step 4: 

Add the tablespoon of salt to the bowl filled with vegetables and mix to ensure the salt is dispersed throughout the vegetables.

Step 5: 

Knead the salt and vegetable mixture with your hands for 10 minutes.  Gently squeeze the vegetables.  The salt will allow the water content and juice in the vegetables to come out.

Warning:  The beets will stain your hands and your hands may become tired from the kneading :)  The beet juice usually washes off easily though.

 

Step 6:

Add the vegetable, salt, and juice mixture to a jar.  You can use a canning jar or any jar that has a lid.  If you do use a canning jar, make sure that the lid is not too tight in order to allow the fermentation process to occur.  If there is not enough juice to cover all of the vegetables in the jar, add some filtered water.  All of the vegetables should be under the liquid.  Allow at least 1 inch of space from the liquid to the top of the jar.  Place the lid loosely on the jar and leave the jar out in room temperature to ferment.  I leave mine out on the kitchen counter so that I remember to check it everyday as described in the next step.

Step 7:

Check the fermenting vegetables every day.  Take the lid off and ensure that all vegetables are below the top of the liquid.  If necessary, press the vegetables down with a spoon and add a bit of filtered water.  If mold or scum appears at the top of the liquid, skim it off.  Allow the vegetables to ferment for 1-2 weeks.  I find that fermenting beets to a desirable taste usually takes closer to 2 weeks.  After the fermentation process is complete, place the jar in the refrigerator.  The fermented vegetables will remain good for several months.  Enjoy!