How to Make Fermented Fall Vegetables
December 12, 2018
The first time we made these fermented veggies, we almost didn’t eat them because they were so cheerful and pretty in their jars — it made us happy just to see them in the fridge. But we are so glad we did because they tasted wonderful!
Fermenting veggies, also called lacto-fermentation, is just like making quick pickles, but the brine is a little different. There’s no vinegar or sugar, just salt — enough to kill off any bad bacteria in the veggies, but not so much that the healthy ones, the lactobacillus, can’t survive. The healthy bacteria convert the lactose and other sugars in the veggies and herbs into lactic acid, a natural preservative.
Lacto-fermentation gives veggies a mild tanginess, but otherwise allows all of their natural flavors and textures to shine. Our carrots are crunchy, full of dill, and only slightly salty. The beets taste like bay and pepper, and without their sugar, are intensely, delightfully earthy.
As a bonus, there are health benefits to eating fermented food — all those healthy bacteria make it easier to digest the vegetables and absorb their nutrients. They may also improve your gut health and help you fight off illness and allergies.
Our tips: Use fermented veggies anywhere you want to add a little color and snap — like on a cheese or charcuterie board. They’re also wonderful layered into just about any sandwich, bánh mì to tuna fish.
For the saltwater brine:
4 Tbsp sea salt, pickling salt, or kosher salt
4 cups distilled or filtered water
For the beets:
1 lb raw candy stripe or golden beets, sliced or chopped
2 cups saltwater brine
¼ tsp coriander seeds
6 to 10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
For the carrots:
1 lb raw rainbow carrots, sliced or chopped
2 cups saltwater brine
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh dill
Supplies: You will need sterilized canning jars and their lids. We used 2 16-oz jars for the beets and 1 32-oz jar for the carrots.
- Combine salt and filtered water in a quart measuring cup and stir until the salt is dissolved. Note: It’s very important to use filtered or distilled water because any chlorine or fluoride in the water can inhibit the fermentation process.
- Add the beets to the 2 16-oz canning jars, and then divide the coriander, peppercorns, and bay leaves between them.
- Add the carrots to the 32-oz canning jar, and then the garlic and dill.
- Fill all 3 jars with the brine, ensuring that the veggies are all submerged, and the brine reaches the top of the jar.
- Cover the jars tightly with clean, sterilized lids, and store them in a cool dark place for 2 days, opening the jars once a day to release any pressure. Move them to the fridge after 2 days, once fermentation has started. This will slow down the fermentation process, but it’s still effective.
- Fermented veggies will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.