What I Love – Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

Fall in Wisconsin always brings an abundance of colorful, fresh, healthy produce. We are members of a wonderful organic and local CSA farm (Roots and Shoots in North Freedom WI) and every Tuesday throughout summer and fall we receive a huge bag of beautiful vegetables. Right now these shares are quite big and even though our family eats lots of veggies we do get sometimes overwhelmed with all the abundance. I would like to share with you one way to deal with this wonderful surplus of fresh autumn harvest – lacto-fermentation! This is definitely my favorite method of preserving produce. It’s super easy, uses almost no energy, stores well for months and as a result you get even healthier food than what you started with. The vitamin and enzyme content increases, the food is more digestible, and just one serving of fermented veggies may have the same amount of probiotics as an entire bottle of these supplements!

How to make lacto-fermented veggies

Start with the freshest, local, and ideally organic, produce possible. You should have about 6 pounds of vegetables. In your combination of veggies about 70% should be from the cabbage family and 25% of all other in-season goodness. You should also add 5% of fresh herbs or other medicinal plants. These are just rough guides so if you have more or less of something it will still work great. Here is what I used for a batch I made in September and it will probably last until the end of the year :-).

These were my cabbage family ingredients: green and red cabbage, kale, swiss chard and bok choy.

Here are some sweet veggies that I used: carrots, beets, bell and hot peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and a couple of apples.

And here are my fresh herbs: parsley, celery leaves, dill, chives, oregano, fennel, garlic and a few nasturtium flowers.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • a gallon jar with a wide opening and a lid
  • a smaller glass jar that will fit through the larger jar’s opening (and will serve as a spacer)
  •  and some kind of pounding tool (I used this wooden masher you can see in a photo below)

Clean, chop, shred and dice everything. This is probably the most time consuming part of the whole process (using f a food processor speeds it up a lot). Then, combine and mix it all in a huge bowl or like I did in two soup pots (because I don’t own a huge bowl 🙂 ). Add a tablespoon of sea salt and stir everything very well. This is how much “goodness” I ended up with after all the chopping:

When all the veggies are mixed nicely, cover the bowl or the pots with a clean cloth and leave on the counter for 1-24 hours. Use less time if you want crunchier results, the longer you let it stay in the pots the softer the veggies. The fermentation process will begin during this time, the veggies will soften, the fiber will open and the beneficial bacteria will start to multiply and do its magic. 🙂

Wash the glass gallon jar well and sanitize it with boiling water. Place a little of the veggie mixture in the jar, press and pound it down to release the juices. Keep adding veggies and keep pressing and pounding. This was the most challenging part for me because somehow my pounding wasn’t producing that much juice. I used my husband’s help with this step as he has way more strength. You can see the difference between my pounding and his below. The goal is to have enough juice to completely cover the veggies when you press them down in a jar.

Insert the glass spacer jar (also previously sanitized in boiling water) and put on the lid, but don’t screw it very well yet. For the first 3-4 days loosen the lid once a day to release oxygen and CO2. After four days screw the lid tightly and let the veggies ferment on a counter for as long as you’d like. I kept mine for about 10 days on the counter and then transferred them (still tightly closed) into the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. When you’re ready to eat your veggies open the jar, take some out and refrigerate the rest afterwards. Each time you take some of the veggies out remember to press the rest left in the jar into the juices.

Lacto fermented vegetables are great with almost anything: meat, fish, cheese… My batch turned out a little too sour for our taste so I make a salad with it. I add some shredded apple or carrot to sweeten the taste, chopped onion, a little sugar and olive oil. It’s a prefect side dish to any dinner. And even a forkful will make a difference for your gut health :-).

If you would like to learn more about fermentation I encourage you to check out Reedsburg’s Fermentation Fest that starts this weekend. A lot of interesting classes are scheduled and you can learn how to ferment almost anything 🙂 Enjoy!

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3 Responses to “What I Love – Lacto-Fermented Vegetables”
  1. Love that you shared this recipe, thanks, Ania!
    What is it called “lacto”, there is no milk products in it, is there?

  2. Ania says:

    No, Justyna, no milk at all, the “lacto” in “lacto-fermentation”, comes from “lactobacillus”, a variety of beneficial lactic acid bacteria that’s great for our guts and overall health.

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  1. […] And if you like the results you may try my other lacto-fermented recipes for kombucha, beet kvass, lacto-fermented vegetables or water kefir. […]



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