Making your own fermented vegetables (also known as cultured) at home is easy!
You will need:
Fermenting lid with air-lock (many styles available online and at brewery stores), a sanitized mason jar, and a small stainless steel cup (optional).
The size of the jar is up to you, but be sure to put enough vegetables in it to reach to the top of the jar.
The small stainless steel cup can be found at kitchen supply retail stores and online, and are used to control over-flow that often occurs when vegetables are fermenting.
To make fermented sauerkraut (cabbage):
1. Slice up one full head of clean and rinsed cabbage to 1/4-1/2 inch strips
(I like green cabbage the best for this recipe)
2. Place cabbage in large bowl or clean/sanitized food-only bucket, sprinkle with approximately 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of Celtic sea salt per head of cabbage (depending on how large the cabbage head is, how salty you want it to be). In all honesty, knowing how much salt to add comes with practice.
3. Place a clean, sterilized ceramic plate upside-down, on top of the cabbage and then put something heavy on top of the plate, and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes. The salt will pull the water out of the cabbage, creating its own brine. It is ready when there is enough brine to almost cover the level of the cabbage. It will continue to make more brine over the fermentation period. Toss mixture with 1-2 tbsp of caraway or dill seeds (optional, but suggested for a great flavor!)
4. Stuff as much of the cabbage and brine into a sanitized mason jar as you can, using a blunt object to pack it as you fill the jar. Leave just enough room at the top for the stainless steel cup, and place it at the top of the cabbage and just underneath the air-tight lid. Use spring water to fill jar more if needed.
5. Put on the air-lock lid, fill the air-lock tube with water up to the fill-lilne, and let rest on your kitchen counter for 5-6 days. During this process, you may smell funny smells and/or the liquids may leak out of the top of the lid (especially if you do not have the metal cup inside the mason jar to capture the over-flow during fermentation). If over-flow becomes a problem, place the mason jar on a plate to contain any over-flow. Be sure that all the food remains underneath the level of the liquid. Sometimes, if I have put too much cabbage into the jar, I have to open the jar and scrap out some of the excess cabbage to allow for more room. Exposure to air will sometimes cause discoloration at the top layer of the fermenting foods, especially if the brine does not go over the top of the vegetables. If discoloration occurs, simply wipe away the top layer until the brine liquid is above the level of food again. I find that cabbage “swells” as it ferments, and I sometimes have to allow some of the bulk out as it swells.
6. After 3-4 days, remove the air-lock lid and the metal cup, clean away the top of the mason jar, and replace the lid with a sanitized metal canning lid. Place the fermented vegetables in the refrigerator and enjoy a few bites each day for weeks! Leave the lid slightly lose, to allow small amounts of gases to be released if the jar is not opened often. Although the cooler air does slow down the process of fermentation, is does not completely stop it. I have never had a jar explode on me, but I also don’t close the lids very tightly. You can leave these vegetables in the refrigerator for many months, if they last that long as you eat them. It may take several tries to get the recipe just right for your personal tastes. You can try herbs and spices once you get advanced. Funny smells are a part of fermenting and you will get used to it. It is rare for a whole batch to go “bad” because the salt creates such a state of alkaline that nothing dangerous will grow in it. In fact, fermented vegetables are not even regulated by the State of Florida, where I live. But taste is a different story, and some vegetables don’t ferment as well as others. You will have to find your favorites through trial and error.
Fermented vegetables recipe:
Approximately 4/5 tbsp sea sat for every 2 cups spring water
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots sticks
1. Mix salt with water until dissolved.
2. Stuff mason jar full of vegetables, until the level reaches the top of the jar.
3. Fill jar with salt/water brine until the level of water is above the vegetables and close to the top of the jar.
4. Place metal cup on top of vegetables so that the water is right to the rim of it, then place the
fermenting air-lock lid on jar, allow to ferment on your kitchen counter for 5-6 days.
5. After 5-6 days, remove the air-lock lid and the metal cup, clean away the top of the mason jar, and replace the lid with a metal canning lid. Place the fermented vegetables in the refrigerator and enjoy a few bites each day for weeks! Leave the lid slightly lose, to allow small amounts of gases to be released if the jar is not opened often. Although the cooler air does slow down the process of fermentation, is does not completely stop it. You can leave these vegetables in the refrigerator for many months, if they last that long. It may take several tries to get the recipe just right for your self.
Search online for endless recipes and tips from others who have also been inspired to blog about fermented/cultured vegetables!