Fermenting Vegetable Pickles

For the past few years I’ve been increasingly interested in traditional ways of preserving food. I’ve been experimenting with a few, the most recent of which is fermenting.

You create an environment for lacto-fermentation to occur in which the good bacteria (lactobacillus) ferment the ingredients, preserving them in their raw state, and making them more digestible too. It’s the same process used to make sauerkraut and kimchi.

Whether you have a glut of vegetables left over from the autumn harvest, or even shop bought food which is going to spoil regardless of the time of year you can give this simple method a go.

The range of ingredients you can add is almost as broad as your imagination; cabbage, cucumbers, beans, courgette, radish, carrot, turnip, chillies, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, beetroot, onions, and much more. You add herbs, spices for flavour and even edible flowers too.

You’ll need

  • Salt (without Iodine)
  • Vegetables, herbs, spices
  • Glass or ceramic jar

Method

Stage 1

Make the brine by bringing the water to the boil. You’ll need enough to completely cover the ingredients in your container. Once the water is boiling add about 20–40g of salt per litre. A 40g/litre brine makes for a pretty salty pickle, so stick within these guides and adjust to your taste. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the brine to room temperature.

Stage 2

Chop your ingredients up and pack them down into a container. You’ll want to avoid metal containers as they may react with the brine, food safe plastic may be OK, but I’d stick to a ceramic crock pot or glass kiner style jar.

Stage 3

Pour the brine over the vegetables to cover them completely. It’s good to have something to keep the ingredients submerged – a cabbage leaf placed over the top works well. I’ve also heard that grape vine leaves and oak leaves help pickles to stay crunchy due to the tannins so you could try this too.

Stage 4

Close up the jar and leave in a dark place. Open the jar momentarily once a day to allow the gas produced by the fermentation to escape. Make sure everything stays submerged. If mould appears on the surface scoop it off and discard.

Stage 5

After a couple of weeks your ferment is done, place it in the fridge to slow the process and enjoy!