Fermented Vegetables

The health benefits of fermented vegetables are undeniable. But did you know how easy it is to grow and ferment them yourself? If you are a beginner, you will benefit from what I learned after days of research.

Fermenting Vegetables

There are a few vegetables we are going to focus on for fermentation. These are: carrots, shell or snap peas, kohlrabi, and green or red cabbage. We recommend the edibles on this list as the easiest to plant, grow, harvest, and ferment at home.

Carrots

Carrots are great, because you can technically grow them year around. If you want to ferment 20 pounds of carrots, grow 20 row feet. The 1:1 ratio can be applied if you want more or less. After fermentation, you can dry them, pickle them, refrigerate them, or freeze them.

Shell or Snap Pea

The key to fermenting these naturally sugary vegetables is using pea pods with the cap unbroken. After the process is finished, they taste great stored in fresh brine. Then, they can be refrigerated or eaten. For 10 pounds of peas, plant a 13-foot row. These are best grown in the early spring and fall. They cannot tolerate hot temperatures.

Kohlrabi

Like water chestnuts but don’t want to go through the hassle of growing them? Try purple Kohlrabi, and don’t forget to peel and cut before fermenting. These will stay good in the fridge for weeks, so you can ferment at your leisure after harvest. One 5-foot row will result in 4 pounds of Kohlrabi. You can grow these in both the fall and the spring.

Red or Green Cabbage

Cabbage is a classic vegetable used in fermentation. Think kimchi and sauerkraut. One medium head will fill 2, 1-quart jars. If you are creating a vegetable mixture, cabbage is a great base. This is another cool season edible.

Ferment in 3 Easy Steps

Step 1: Make a Brine

We recommend beginning your brine with a starter culture. These are relatively simple to find in canning stores, cooking specialty shops, and online. Read the instructions. We like to dissolve the starter in fresh celery juice. Juiced by your own hand works better than store-bought. One cup of this juice mixture is enough to use on 3 quarts of veggies.

Step 2: Pack the Jars

Clean and dry the jars and lids. Using a masher, pack your cut edibles tightly into the jars. It may seem strange, but it is important to try and remove any air pockets. Additionally, make sure the brine covers the top of the vegetables in the jars.

Now, place a cabbage leaf on the top and push it down into the sides. This should also be mashed and covered with the brine. Loosely put on the lids. They need room to expand during the fermentation process. 

Step 3: Allow Jars to Sit

A good, warm location would be an unheated wooden garage or wooden shed in the late spring and early fall. Wherever you decide to stash them, fermentation occurs best in temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees. Do not go above 85 degrees, or the vegetables will not ferment. When done in winter, you may have to wait up to a week. Summer takes only 3 or 4 days.

Interested in a taking a course to learn how to ferment vegetables? You’re in luck! Udemy offers an inexpensive online course.

There are multiple health benefits to fermented vegetables. In fact, you get the goodness of the original veg combined with the extra advantage of fermentation. In this article, we will walk you through the benefits as well as how to ferment your own veggies. Stay tuned!

What is Fermentation?

This is a process used to make items like yogurt, wine, beer, and cheese. The purpose originated long ago to keep foods edible for longer periods of time. Fermenting today is mostly done for the taste as well as the health benefits.

Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetables

Benefit #1: Aid in Digestion and Absorption

The process of fermentation breaks down some of the starches in the food before it even touches your stomach. This aids in the digestion and absorption of these foods. Although not a vegetable, when milk is fermented to make yogurt or cheese some lactose-intolerant people can eat these foods. Even raw fruits and vegetables can be easily digested after fermenting.

Benefit #2: Synthesize and Increase Availability of Nutrients

Fermented veggies help your body manufacture B vitamins. They also allow your body to synthesize certain vitamins such as vitamin K. Not only that, but the process increases the availability of the vitamins and minerals in the vegetable itself.

The presence of phytic acid binds minerals together, and the process of fermentation makes them available. Iron and Zinc are two such minerals, and they are present in a lot of different vegetables.

Benefit #3: Improves Immune Functioning

Did you know most of our immune functioning happens in our gut? Fermented veg contains probiotics, and probiotics support the health of the gut wall. Without good bacteria, the gut lining will become inflamed and cause digestion problems. Unfortunately, this means your immune function is also compromised. All fermented foods are great after a course of antibiotics!

Benefit #4: Improves Mood and Behaviour

There are neurons in our guts, and they affect how we feel up in our brain. This is one of the stranger things about our body. It’s also why a stomachache and digestive issues can put someone in a bad mood. Luckily, the probiotics in fermented veggies promote a healthy gut. A healthy gut contributes to a happy mind.

Benefit #5: Curbs Cravings

Do you get sugar cravings? Fermented veg can help! As crazy as it sounds, a regulated gut biome contributes to changing your taste buds to prefer a bitter or sour flavour. Some people swear by this method to eliminate their cravings.

Benefit #6: May Promote Weight Loss

Some research has found certain probiotics lead to weight loss. However, other research found some probiotic strains lead to weight gain. Therefore, the jury is still out on the official prognosis.

Benefit #7: Helps Treat Irritable Bowel Disease

This is due to the beneficial gut bacteria fermented veggies provide. Additionally, the food is easier for the body to digest and move through the gut.

Benefit #8: Improves Bone Density

There are minerals brought out in the fermentation process that build bones and prevents brittleness. Anyone with weak bones should add this type of vegetable to their diet.

Benefit #9: Helps Decrease Affects of Allergies

Remember how we mentioned that fermented veg boosts the immune system? This works in favour of your allergies as well! The better your immune system, the better your allergy symptoms.

Benefit #10: Fights and Kills Candida

Candida is a yeast that can grow out of control when someone has ill health or is taking antibiotics. This typically results in an itchy, white coating on the area with the overgrowth. If not taken care of, Candida can spread and cause serious damage.

What are Good Vegetables to Ferment?

  * Cucumbers to pickles

  * Green cabbage to sauerkraut

  * Kimchi made from veggies such as cabbage as well as Korean spices

  * Mushrooms

  * Broccoli

  * Cauliflower

  * Onions

  * Asparagus

  * Peppers (red and orange work the best)

  * Carrots

  * Green beans

  * Garlic

  * Radishes

  * Turnips

  * Beets

  * Red cabbage

  * Hot peppers

  * Eggplants

  * Tomatoes

  * Squash (spaghetti, yellow, summer, pumpkin, etc.)

  * Brussels sprouts

  * Herbs (you can literally ferment any herbs)

How to Ferment Vegetables

Instructionsis a lot easier than it seems. There are only a few ingredients and instructions.

Ingredients

  * Vegetables – sliced or chopped (we prefer to use carrots, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, artichokes, onions, cabbage, leeks, etc.)

  * 1 cabbage leaf

  * 2 cups of water

  * 1 ½ tablespoons of sea salt

  * Spices or herbs (i.e. dill, basil, rosemary, bay leaf, cumin, peppercorns, etc.)

  * 1 quart mason jar

  * Corresponding plastic lid (metal will rust after awhile)

Instructions

1. Fill the mason jar with your veggies of choice all the way up to the neck. Leave 1 inch of space.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water.

3. Pour the salt water mixture over the vegetables until there is ½ an inch of space left.

4. Fold the 1 cabbage leaf and use it to push all of the veggies under the salty water. This will help keep them underwater, or else it won’t take.

5. Tightly close the lid on the jar and store out of direct sunlight. The temperatures should not exceed 75 degrees or fall below 68 degrees.

6. In about 2 days, you should see some bubbles. After the second day, loosen the lid so the gas escapes. Do this over your sink, and do it twice a day.

7. In 4 to 10 days, you will have fermented veggies! The longer you let them sit, the more bitter/sour they will be. Start tasting on the 4th day to figure out exactly how fermented you want your vegetables.

8. Once you’ve decided the veg are done, put them in the refrigerator. They will last for up to 2 months.

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