How To: Make Your Own Fermented Veggies

Fermented pickles with tons of fresh organic dill are my favourite.

Fermented pickles with tons of fresh organic dill are my favourite.

I am always recommending for patients to increase fermented foods in their diets.  Fermented foods are "live" foods that are chock full of gut-friendly bacteria.  As a Western culture, many of the foods we eat on a regular basis are devoid of healthy probiotic cultures.  Fermented foods have been a staple across cultures for hundreds of years, from sauerkraut and kefir in Eastern European cultures to kimchi in Asian cultures to lassi (a yogurt drink) in ancient India. 

So why should you be adding more fermented foods into your diet?  Not only are they an excellent source of gut-friendly probiotics, they also provide important nutrients such as vitamin K2 and many different B vitamins that are not always so easy to find from other dietary sources.  With emerging researching on the fascinating world of probiotics, we now know that they are helpful in supporting the immune system, improving mood, regulating autoimmune conditions, influencing gene expression, moderating type 2 diabetes and supporting neurological development.

To ensure you're getting a good dose of probiotics in your day, aim for 2-3 servings from a variety of sources such as 1/2 cup of unsweetened yogurt or kefir, or a couple tablespoons of kimchi, sauerkraut, or your very own homemade fermented veggies.  And don't forget about the brine!  You can easily whisk it with olive oil and create a salad dressing or toss a couple tablespoons into a freshly pressed veggie juice.

What You Need

  • Seasonal vegetables (ex. cucumbers, beets, cauliflower, cabbage)
  • Pickling spice
  • Whole garlic cloves (optional)
  • Fresh herbs (ex. dill)
  • Non-iodized sea salt
  • Filtered or purified water
  • Cabbage leaf (optional)

Preparation

  • Clean the skins of the vegetables thoroughly and pierce whole veggies straight through with a paring knife
  • Pack vegetables and spices into a fermentation jar, with the spices, herbs and garlic at the bottom of the jar
  • Prepare the brine:
    • 1.5 tbsp:2 cups filtered water
    • Dissolve sea salt in water, creating enough brine to fill the desired amount of jars (Tip: use about 2 cups of hot water to start the dissolving process, it takes far less time than room temperature water)
  • Add brine to vegetable-packed jars, making sure the vegetables are completely submerged
  • Pack cabbage leaf into top of jar, if vegetables won’t stay packed down below the level of the brine themselves
  • Screw lids onto jars and place in a dark spot for 5-10 days
  • Once fermented (you'll be able to tell by the fizziness in the jar), put into the fridge.  Fermented veggies can be kept up to 6-12 months

It's so incredibly easy to make your own fermented veggies and the options are endless.  Try experimenting with your favourite veggies and let me know how it goes!  I'm always curious to hear about fermentation creations.