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​How to Ferment Any Vegetable

Posted by Edna B. Wilson on

We’ve talked a lot about fermentation on our blog, including an informative post by Christina describing how to ferment raw vegetables using a starter culture. If you don’t want to use a starter culture, try fermenting your vegetables with salt, whey or active brine.

Jars of Fermented Vegetables

Not All Salts Are Equal

Table salt is not an option. It is processed and also has anti-caking additives to prevent clumping. Iodine is added back into the salt, and the salt is sometimes bleached. The best choices for fermenting are sea salt and Himalayan pink salt. Slightly grey in color, sea salt has naturally occurring trace minerals, including magnesium, boron, silicon, iodine and sulfur. Himalayan pink salt also has many natural trace minerals, is a light shade of pink and kicks the taste up a notch when used for fermenting vegetables.

Two Basic Approaches to Salting Vegetables for Lacto-fermentation

Once you choose the type of salt to use,  make a basic brine 1 using 3 tablespoons of salt in one quart of filtered water. Dissolve the salt in water and add enough water to completely cover the vegetables. You’ll have a wonderful container of raw cultured vegetables. 

Dry salt can also be used. Sprinkle salt on the raw vegetables and then  massage or pound it into them with your hand 2 or a spoon, until they release enough juice to cover them in your fermentation container. If you use your hand, make sure that you've washed thoroughly, and cleaned under your fingernails as well as the surface of your skin. Don't touch your face during this process, either - the germs on your skin will be in your food, too. 

Other Choices: Whey or active brine

To get the same, delicious  fermented vegetables without salt 3, use whey or active brine. Whey is part of yogurt and can be separated by straining yogurt through a cloth filter. The liquid that results from this straining is whey. Add 1 tablespoon of whey to each pint of vegetables you want to ferment, and then add enough water to cover them. 

When using active brine from a previous ferment, just add 1 tablespoon of brine to a new pint of vegetables you want to ferment. If you just opened a jar of lacto-fermented vegetables, use the active brine to start your next batch.

After you’ve added the whey or active brine, follow  the same cultured vegetable recipe 4 that you’d use with salt. 

That's all there is to it. Lacto-fermented vegetables are easy to make, delicious, and nutritious. If you run into any problems fermenting your vegetables, let us know. We'll help you through the process. 

Image Credits: Noah Sussman on Wikimedia Commons






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