Fermenting Guide and Easy Recipe
Updated: Jan 15, 2022
When you grow your own, you usually end up with large quantities of the same fruit or vegetable. This is why knowing how to preserve what you grow is so important. I want to guide you on how to ferment vegetables, it's my favorite way to preserve food and it's very easy once you know what to do.
How to Ferment?
1. First, pick a good jar. It has to be clear, so you will be able to see what's in it, not broken or cracked, big enough for the vegetables you wish to ferment and importantly- it has to close well. Make sure the jar can be closed properly with its lid before starting.
2. Keep it clean, most fermentation "accidents" are caused by bad bacteria which ruins the food. Wash your veggies well, keep your hands and work surface clean and sterilize your jar well before starting.
Jars can be sterilized by bringing water to a boil in a large pot which can contain the jar. You have to be very careful when handling hot water. There is an easier safer way, just place your jar in the dish washer, make sure to take it out when it is still a bit warm, using clean hands.
3. Now you can prepare the ingredients you wish to ferment. Start from fermenting hard veggies such like radishes, cabbage, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and beets. You can ferment soft veggies, like tomatoes too, but it's best to first get the expertise with the more forgiving crispy veggies.
4. Spice is nice, so don't be afraid of it. I love using star anise with radishes, one whole star for a bunch of radishes is enough, and I find there is no need to add anything else. Cucumbers and cabbage are delicious when fermented with garlic and fresh dill. Bey leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds are great dry ingredients you can add. If you want a spicy ferment, use fresh chili pepper, cut into rings, be careful not to make it too hot though.
5. Fermenting solution, you only need salt and water, that's it. The trick is to know the right ration between these two ingredients. Different veggies may be fermented with different amount of salt in the solution. To keep things simple, use 1 tbsp. of fine salt for every 3/4 cups of water you add to the jar. Just use a cup in which you mix salt with water, and add to jar the number of cups which are needed until the solution covers the veggies.
Fermented Radishes with Star Anise:
Super easy and yummy way to preserve and eat your radishes.
You will need:
A jar of your choice, follow point #1 above.
A bunch of fresh radishes, clean and halved
One whole star anise for a small jar, or 2 starts for a big jar
Fine salt and clean water as much as needed to fill the jar with the veggies in it, follow point #5 above.
1. Place your sterilized jar on a clean work surface.
2. With clean hands, place the radishes in the jar until it's packed full with them, you want as little air as possible inside the jar, so press the radishes lightly and if there is space, add more radishes.
3. Add the star anise on top.
4. In a cup, mix 1 tbsp. of fine salt with clean water filling 3/4 of the cup. See that the salt dissolves in the water- this is the fermenting solution.
5. Add as many cups of solution as you need, to make sure all the radishes are fully covered in the solution. Fill the jar to its very top, allowing access solution to drip when closing the lid.
6. Make sure the lid is closed properly, shake the jar lightly to distribute the salt well.
7. If it's sunny, place the jar for 3 days on a sunny windowsill, then transfer to a dark cool place for storage, or the fridge. In cool weather when it's not sunny, place the jar on the windowsill for a week, then transfer to a cool place for storage.
8. Shake the jar lightly once or twice a day in the first week you are fermenting, so the salt will not sink to the bottom of the jar.
9. After the first week, you can try the radishes, the longer they will be fermented in the jar, the deeper their taste will be. It's best to open the jar carefully as water may drip out of it, if the water resemble a soda, that's a good sign of active fermentation.
Good to know:
If you don't have enough radishes to fill your jar, add yellow (or green or red) sweet peppers cut into big cubes.
If at any point you see any kind of mold forming or the salt water in the jar look unclear, don't eat the veggies. This is a sign that the fermentation did not go well, start over from the beginning and make sure the jar is sterilized properly.
- Fermented radishes will upgrade your avotoast or hummus sandwich (or any other sandwich really).
- They are great as a poke bowl topping.
- Also fantastic in salads, as they add a deep flavor which compliments fresh ingredients.