By fermenting vegetables, you will increase their nutritional properties and you will obtain a delicious and crunchy appetizer! Sauerkraut and kimchi are popular examples, but it's possible to ferment almost all vegetables in a liquid solution to which you simply add a few readily available ingredients like salt. You will be able to store your fermented vegetables for months and enjoy them when you feel like it. In this article, we show you how to prepare delicious fermented vegetables.
Part 1 of 3: prepare the utensils and ingredients
Step 1. First choose the vegetables you are going to ferment
Preferably use seasonal foods that have reached maturity, so they will have a perfect texture and a delicate flavor. It is strongly recommended to use vegetables from your garden or vegetables that have not been genetically modified (which is not easy to find today). You can either ferment a particular type of vegetable or mix several vegetables together. Here are some suggestions.
- Cucumbers. If you've never fermented food before, cucumber is the best vegetable to start with. For best results, mix it with baby onions, peppers and carrots. Tell the seller that you are going to ferment your cucumbers and do not use cucumbers that have been processed.
- The cabbage. Cabbage is a vegetable that lends itself well to fermentation. You can of course make sauerkraut with it, but you have other options. If you like spicy food, you can make kimchi.
- Peppers. Fermented peppers are a real treat, you can also mix them with other foods to spice them up.
- Asparagus and green beans. Asparagus and fermented green beans are a wonder and they will enchant you during the long winter evenings, when you have no more vegetables in your garden.
Step 2. Add some amount of salt
By placing vegetables in a container containing liquid, the natural bacteria they contain will gradually change their molecular structure as they ferment. Vegetables ferment naturally in water, but their texture and flavor will be much better if you add a little salt. The salt will prevent the growth of bad bacteria and on the other hand promote the development of good bacteria. This will give you tasty and crunchy fermented vegetables.
- The amount of salt you need to add depends on the amount of vegetables you are fermenting. Add three tablespoons of salt for two and a half kilograms of vegetables. If you are on a diet that does not allow you to consume salt, do not put it on.
- If you add a lot of salt to the water, the vegetables will ferment more slowly. The less salt you add, the faster your vegetables will ferment.
- If you are not using salt, you can add a fermentation accelerator to speed up the formation of good bacteria and to prevent the growth of bad bacteria. The products generally used are kefir seeds, whey or a fermentation accelerator, so you can reduce the amount of salt or not use it at all. On the other hand, if you do not add salt and add an agent without salt, your fermented vegetables will be less crunchy.
Step 3. Choose the type of container in which you will ferment your vegetables
For the fermentation of vegetables, it is preferable to use a container with a large opening such as a jar or a circular ceramic pot. It is important to choose a container that will not alter the chemical composition of the liquid in which your vegetables will ferment for weeks and maybe even months. Avoid plastic and metal containers. Glass and ceramic vessels are the most suitable.
Step 4. Prepare a lid and a weight
You are going to need a weight to compress your vegetables in the container and a cover that will keep dust and insects out of the container while still allowing oxygen to pass through. You can make a weight and a lid easily out of common items, or buy a fermenter that has the appropriate lid and weight.
- If you are going to ferment your vegetables in a ceramic container, you can use a heavy plate with a diameter that allows you to place it in your ceramic pot. Place a pebble or a small jar filled with water on the plate then place a tea towel on top of the container and hold it in place with rubber bands or tape so that insects cannot enter the jar.
- If you are going to ferment your vegetables in a jar, fill a slightly smaller jar with water and place it in the larger jar over your vegetables. Place a tea towel on top and secure it in place with rubber bands or tape to keep bugs out of the jar.
Part 2 of 3: ferment the vegetables
Step 1. Start by washing your vegetables
Rinse your vegetables thoroughly with cold water then cut them into small pieces or slices. They will thus provide a greater surface area for the liquid and will ferment faster in your jar or ceramic pot.
If you want to make sauerkraut, cut your cabbage into four pieces and then grate it with a cheese grater
Step 2. Now you need to extract the juice from your vegetables
Place your pieces of vegetables in a large bowl or large salad bowl and press firmly on them with an object such as a meat tenderizer to extract their juice. If you want your vegetable pieces to remain intact, you can extract their juice by gently kneading them with your fingers. You have to knead them somehow to break their cell walls anyway.
Step 3. Salt your vegetables
Add salt to your vegetables and juice then mix everything together with a tablespoon. If you are using a natural or chemical agent to start or speed up fermentation, add it now and mix it thoroughly with the vegetables and juice.
Step 4. Put your vegetables and the juice in the container in which they will ferment
Leave an empty space of at least seven centimeters between the vegetables and the top of your container. Press down firmly on the vegetables with your fingers or a kitchen utensil so that they go to the bottom of the container and their juice covers them completely. If there is not enough juice to completely cover the vegetables, add the necessary amount of water to cover them.
Step 5. Place a weight on your vegetables and close the container
In order for your vegetables to ferment properly, you must place a weight on them so that they are always covered with liquid. Place the weight on the vegetables, if you are using a plate it should touch or almost touch the inner wall of the container. Then place a thin cloth over the container to allow oxygen to pass while preventing insects from entering the container.
Part 3 of 3: finishing the fermentation
Step 1. Ferment your vegetables at room temperature
Place the container in a clean, dry place. Your vegetables will start to ferment immediately. The container should be in a warm place, do not put it in a very cold or hot place.
Step 2. Taste your vegetables regularly
The fermentation process does not have a particular duration, it depends above all on the tastes of each one. The flavor will develop after a day or two. So taste your vegetables every day to know when their flavor suits you, the flavor of your vegetables will change every day, taste them when their flavor satisfies you. If you want to keep them for a few months, you will need to keep them in another place.
If the vegetables are not all submerged in the liquid, a little mold will form on the pieces that are on the outside of the liquid. Remove the mold by scraping it and replace the pieces of vegetables exposed to the air in the liquid then adjust the weight or add more weight to keep them submerged. Mold does not have a negative effect on fermentation
Step 3. Store your vegetables for months
Place the container with your vegetables in a cool place such as a refrigerator or cellar. This will slow down the fermentation process and keep your vegetables for months. The flavor will continue to build, so taste your vegetables every week or every two weeks and eat them when they are flavorful to you.