View Full Version : Fermented Vegetables

Greg Battaglia
01-11-2008, 01:20 PM
Does anyone ferment their veggies? I was thinking of trying it, as the health benefits (improved digestive health, immunity, etc) seem well worth it. I'm a simple guy, however, I just want to use a recipe or method that will be easy to prepare. Any ideas?

Garrett Smith
01-11-2008, 01:58 PM
Just follow this basic recipe, only use shredded cabbage and maybe some garlic & dried herbs the first time, and don't worry about adding any salt or the culture starter. Wash all your containers and utensils in hot water right beforehand.

Greg Battaglia
01-11-2008, 02:45 PM
Can't get much more simple than that. Thanks!

Garrett Smith
01-11-2008, 02:55 PM
I forgot one thing. I highly suggest you buy a batch of "professionally-made" cultured veggies at a health food store and try them first. That way you'll see how you like them, as well as learn what proper cultured veggies smell and taste like--mainly so you can tell if your batch goes bad. There's a huge difference in smell between bad and good cultured veggies, but without experience one doesn't know.

Scott Kustes
01-11-2008, 04:25 PM
I make sauerkraut, same basic recipe as Dr. G. listed above. There's a photo tour of me making it the most recent time on my blog.

Dr. G,
Does botulism concern you at all putting garlic in an anaerobic environment? I haven't mustered the guts to do that yet, though I think it would be delicious.

Greg Battaglia
01-11-2008, 06:20 PM
Thanks, will do. Scott, I don't know about purposeful fermentation, but I do know that if kept in oil (like olive oil and garlic mixes) for too long garlic will begin to harbor dangerous types and levels of bacteria. I was surprised when I read this, given garlic's antimicrobial properties. I'm not sure how accurate that claim is, but I do vaguely remember reading that somewhere when I was researching a lot about garlic. I'm interested to hear Dr. G's take on this.

Mark Gebhard
01-12-2008, 10:16 AM
You don't use any salt? How do you make the brine, just add water or blend some cabbage in water? I've only made sauerkraut with salt but I'd like to eliminate that if possible.

Garrett Smith
01-12-2008, 02:24 PM
The only time I add salt to cultured veggies is right before I eat them if at all. My brine is made with a couple handfuls of the veggie mixture, some water, and whatever herbs are going into the mix (including most, if not all, of the onions and garlic).

Salt prevents bacteria from growing. Nearly all bacteria. IMO, making salt-heavy preparations is simply making "wilted aged veggies", as true culturing/fermenting doesn't take place without bacterial activity.

Never noticed any problem with garlic at all. The only time I had a batch go bad was when I made a "sweet" batch trying to get my wife into them, lots of carrots and beets. I also accidentally made them in a jar that had already been used for making kefir. The burning smell in my nose, along with the strange colors, made it TOO obvious they went bad--but only that one jar and not the other one.

Greg Battaglia
01-12-2008, 03:35 PM
How does apple cider vinegar stand up to fermented veggies? I believe ACV does have some probiotic properties?

Garrett Smith
01-13-2008, 06:56 AM
ACV is a cultured food, definitely. Very cultured. Specific types of yeast (typically found on the apple skin) play a prominent role in making ACV, that's why some yeast-sensitive folks can't have much vinegar at all.

Cultured veggies have many more strains of bacteria in them.

Eric Kerr
01-13-2008, 06:29 PM
I made my first batch of cultured veggies today per the 2nd beginner recipe in BED. Carrots, cabbage, garlic, etc.,.

My mom wandered in while I was making them and said "Oh, you are making "chow-chow"". I said "What?" Then she described what her mom used to make when she was a kid, which was very similar.

She commented that it was just one of the ways people did things when they didn't have refridgerators (she was born in a log cabin and they didn't get a refridgerator until a move and several years had passed).

Just thought that was a very interesting comment. I mean who among us was not born and raised with the fridge and freezer paradigm (even most of our parents grew up with them)?

Suzanne Buffie
01-20-2008, 09:42 PM
I have tried making my first batch of fermented veggies without salt, after reading Dr. G's post and a bit more about that on BED website. I used a version of the BED beginner recipe with veggies, garlic, herbs .

how would I know if the veggies went bad? I am not sure if what I am smelling is fermented veggies or a bad batch. I am new to this.
thanks for your help.

Garrett Smith
01-21-2008, 05:15 AM
That's why I suggested to Greg to buy some "professional" store-bought cultured veggies first, to know what they both smell and taste like. It's hard to describe smells, especially cultured smells to unfamiliar folks, over message boards.

I've only had one batch go bad. The smell felt like it *burned* my nostrils.

You can always put your made batch in the fridge, go get some pre-made ones, and then compare. No rush! FYI, the good store-bought ones are really cultured, so you'll definitely learn the proper (strong) smell.

Suzanne Buffie
01-21-2008, 06:09 AM
Thanks, makes sense. I will do that today :-)

Suzanne Buffie
01-21-2008, 08:59 AM
So I looked around for fermented veggies and the stores either don't carry them or they contain sea salt. Will good bacteria still grow with salt, or does it completely wipe them out?

Garrett Smith
01-21-2008, 09:33 AM
The important question to ask is when the sea salt was added.

Before culturing = inhibited bacterial growth (you've never seen or heard of fungus or bacteria growing on sea salt, right?)

After culturing = no problem

You may want to call around, see if you can find some without salt added.

Eric Kerr
01-21-2008, 10:50 AM
I was feeling lucky, so I went ahead and ate my batch of cultured veggies without trying some from a health food store first.

I only had one jar when I started making them, so I cut out at least 1 head of cabbage, so things might be off a lot. The BED beginner recipe makes a lot! Guessing at least 5 Qts. worth.

About halfway through the process we had to put paper towels under the jars since they were leaking a little bit.

Cabbage that I had rolled up and place on top had yellowed a bit.

When I opened the lids, there was a good amount of bubbling (gas escaping).

Smelled like pickles to me (saurkraut?). No funny colors. No burning of the nostrils although, I haven't tried just putting them up to my nostrils and smelling. 1st floor of the house smelled of the CVS after I went up and then came back down.

I generally don't eat things like saurkraut or coleslaw, but I imagine taste and texture-wise the CVs are pretty similiar to those things.

Summary: They taste and smell like pickled vegetables.

I let one jar age for 3 days and another for 7 days.

My wife who typically has a much broader pallet than me likes the 3 days jar best. She said the 7 day jar was too strong for her although her stomach told her that it was good stuff.

Personally I can't tell much of a difference in taste, but the veggies that aged seven days are a bit mushier.

Oh, and watch out for the Ginger if you didn't mince it. Whooo, spicey.

Garrett Smith
01-21-2008, 12:04 PM
Eric, good point. Set your jars in a shallow bowl or plate, as they do have a tendency to build a bit of pressure and leak/fizz.

Another good sign of proper fermentation is bubbles down in the veggies.

Suzanne Buffie
01-21-2008, 01:49 PM
I've got bubbles in the jar. It also fizzed & liquid poured out when I opened it, so I think I am good. Thanks for your help.

sarena kopciel
01-21-2008, 02:39 PM
OK so after reading this I went out and bought some fermented veggies today at the local health food shop. I got the Org Ginger Carrots ad Org Red Cabbage
The others all had cayenne, which I dont eat!
Dr. G, do these seem like a good product?

I am gonna sit down now to eat some of each with a roasted turkey drumstick (what a small turkey it was!) and steamed asparagus and cauliflower with some tehina dressing!

Garrett Smith
01-21-2008, 04:55 PM
Looks great to me, Sarena. They do mention only a small amount of sea salt is added before fermentation, sounds fine...

sarena kopciel
01-21-2008, 05:04 PM
Looks great to me, Sarena. They do mention only a small amount of sea salt is added before fermentation, sounds fine...

Thanks Doc G. They were quite good too!