Fall is upon us once again, which means harvest season! If you have a garden ready for harvest or way more veggies than you know what to do with, then we have some great tips and tricks for the best vegetables to ferment and how to store garden vegetables.
Why Do You Ferment Vegetables?
There are so many reasons to ferment your harvest this fall. The first is the health benefits: thelacto-fermentation process provides the ferment with lots of gut-healthy probiotics and vitamins and minerals varying on the vegetable.
If you like coffee, pickles, mustard, beer, wine, yogurt, or chocolate, there's a good chance you will also like fermented vegetables! Fermented foods add a little zing to every meal that is also quite delicious.
Fermentation is also just a great way to preserve and store foods. If you spent all year devotedly planting and maintaining your garden, you don’t want them all to rot. Fermenting will allow you to store your vegetables and enjoy them throughout the winter.
Can You Ferment Any Vegetables?
So, what vegetablescanyou ferment? While there are some better- and worse-tastingfermented vegetables, you can ferment them all! Every single vegetable contains the good bacteria that create lactic acid, which is required for fermentation.
What Are The Characteristics of the Best Vegetables for Fermenting?
One very important characteristic of the best fermented vegetables is the texture. Something with a sturdy frame, like a pepper, will hold up best during fermentation. Cabbage is an exception, however, because sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is meant to be flimsy.
Any homegrown vegetable will be better suited for fermentation because you can ensure there are no harmful pesticides or wax coating. Both of these things can damage your ferment. If homegrown isn’t possible, we recommend buying organic vegetables.
The biggest deciding factor when picking out the best vegetables to ferment is you! If you don’t like the vegetable raw, there is a good chance that you won’t like it fermented. Vice versa is also true. Figure out what types of raw vegetables you like, to pick out the best veggies for fermenting.
The Best Vegetables to Ferment:
Now, let's get into Cultures For Health’s list of the best vegetables for fermenting:
The first vegetable is a pepper. These are super easy to ferment because you can throw them in whole. After the peppers have fermented, the brine can be used to add some extra kick to another ferment or a meal. Why would you ferment peppers? To make hot sauce, of course! You have complete control of the spiciness, which makes this perfect to customize to you and your family’s liking. Fermented sweet peppers are great sliced and added to sandwiches!
Another one of the best fermented vegetables is cauliflower. This is a fun ferment to make because the color is completely customizable. If you want pink cabbage, throw in some beets. If you have a picky eater at home, this may entice them to branch out and try new foods.
Now, for the mother of all ferments—pickles. Not only is this one of the best vegetables to ferment, it is debatably the most popular. Cucumbers are also great in other ferments such as kimchi and fermented salsa!
When you think of fermented vegetables, you probably immediately think of the New Year’s delicacy,homemade sauerkraut. All you need is thefermented vegetable kit from Cultures For Health and some cabbage, and you are ready to go! To prevent any bad bacteria or mold from growing, be sure the cabbage is fully submerged in the brine usingceramic fermentation weights.
Kvass is one of the most popular ferments we see beets used in! Speaking of beets, they are also an amazing vegetable for fermenting. You will have to be extra careful when fermenting beets, though, due to the high sugar content. Sugar increases the rate at which something ferments so you will have to keep a close eye when fermenting beets. They are definitely worth the hassle, though, because they are so delicious on their own and in salads.
Next on the list of best vegetables to ferment is garlic. It has been a huge recent trend to make fermented honey garlic. While garlic has some natural self-preserving properties, fermenting garlic will step up any recipe. Oh no! Yourfermented garlic turned blue or green? No need to worry—this is completely normal during the fermentation process due to the interactions of the acidic brine and chemical makeup of garlic.
Beans are one of those vegetables we want to save but always have a hard time canning. Canning can make them soft and sometimes we don’t have enough in a harvest to run our pressure canner and they end up getting forgotten. Fear not! This is why we ferment beans! Beans are the perfect size for a pint jar and with fermentation, it’s easy to do just one jar at a time and save the fresh flavor and crunch of one of our favorite vegetables.
The greatest thing about fermenting carrots is their diversity. Carrots are great addition to a bunch of ferments like kimchi, sauerkraut, and curtido. However, if you’re not sure what to use your carrots in, they are great fermented just on their own. Adding flavors like dill or curry spices will make delicious savory carrots, where orange and ginger with a little sugar can make a sweeter carrot ferment. There are so many options!
3 Common Tips & Tricks for The Best Tasting Fermented Vegetables
- Always make sure your vegetables are submerged in the brine. Some vegetables like cabbages will release water and create their own brine, whereas others you need to make a salt water brine. Just make sure it’s all submerged! Fermentation weights are a great way to do this.
- Taste as they go. The great thing about fermenting at home is being able to cater to what you like, so taste your vegetables every few days until they’re ready to you! Then store them in the refrigerator to stall the fermentation process.
Save all your ferments in a cool place. This can be a root cellar, an underground storage, or your refrigerator. This will slow the fermentation process down and help you avoid over fermenting your veggies! It will also help maintain the shelf life.
Start Fermenting Your Own Veggies!
Fermented vegetables are a great way to preserve your garden harvest over the winter or even just use up some vegetables that you purchased and don’t want to waste. There are tons of reasons to ferment vegetables and there’s even more ways to eat them! Not to mention, there is a wide variety of health benefits to each vegetable and its fermented versions, so we recommend trying them all!
Some of our favorite uses for fermented veggies include sandwiches, topping pizzas, or making grain bowls. Of course, pickles and carrot stick both make a great snack by themselves. The possibilities are endless! What veggies will you ferment next?