Backyard gardens produce the last part of their bounty, and late summer vegetables are at their peak of freshness. Try fermentation to press the last drop of your harvest.
Fermented vegetables date back hundreds of years. Before we had freezers, people had to somehow preserve food. At some point someone found out that salting foods and letting them sit for a week results in crispy, flavorful pickled vegetables that taste better than what you started with.
Many people find fermenting at home intimidating. And it can be first. As long as you sanitize your cutting boards, glasses, and tools with boiling water before you start, there is a great chance you will end up with a nice pickle.
Find out how to do it.
Fermented vegetables at home: pickled giardiniera recipe
Served: 10-20, depending on the portion size
Time in the kitchen: 15 minutes plus 5 days of fermentation time
- 1-2 heads of cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 6-7 carrots
- 5-6 stalks of celery
- 1 red pepper
- 1 large leek
- 1 pound of green beans
- 1 teaspoon. black peppercorns
- 3/4 tsp. Mustard seeds
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, battered
- 1 small bunch of oregano
- 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or 1-2 sliced jalapenos)
With boiling water, disinfect each vessel that you plan to use for your fermentation. Be careful not to burn yourself!
Wash and chop all of your vegetables. Double wash your leeks as they are notorious for being very sandy.
We recommend a 3.5% saline solution for your fermentation. To find out how much salt you need, weigh your pot or glass on a small kitchen scale. Tare the scale with the empty jar on it so that the weight is 0 g. Fill the glass with water until it is a few inches away from the lip of the glass. Write down the mass of the water and multiply the amount by 3.5% to find out how much salt you need.
Pour out the water and add the appropriate amount of salt to the glass. Then subtract the amount of salt you added from the total mass of water that will fit in the glass. This will give you the bulk of water that you need to add to the glass. At this point, pour the saline solution you created into another glass. You will need it in a minute. Cover your pot or glass with all of the chopped vegetables, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, oregano and paprika flakes. Pour enough salt water solution into the jar so that the vegetables are completely submerged.
Alternatively, you can save the salt water solution. Add a few crock fermentation weights on top to keep all of the veggies under the water.
Cover your jar with the appropriate lid. We used an airlock lid set that has a small hole in the lid that the airlock attaches to. Fill the airlock with the appropriate amount of water according to your instructions and you’re good to go! Put the pot in a cool, dry place, ideally away from sunlight. The warmer the conditions in the room where you place the pot, the faster the contents will ferment.
If you don’t have an airlock system, you can cover the jar lightly with a lid and “burp” the jar 1-2 times a day to remove any carbon dioxide gas created by fermenting the vegetables. This proves to be a bit of a hassle and runs the risk of your ferment overflowing. Therefore the small investment for the airlock system is worthwhile. Check your pot daily to make sure it hasn’t overflowed.
You can try the giardiniera after about 5 days and decide how much tangier and longer you want the mixture to last. We personally like it around 10 days, but it can also take 2 weeks or even longer. Use your nose first! When trying or removing vegetables, make sure to keep the contents of the pot immersed in the brine.
Mold against Kahm yeast
If black, blue, or fuzzy circles form on top, it is mold. Discard your mixture and start over. If you see a thin layer of whitish plastic film forming on top, with or without tiny bubbles underneath, the cream yeast is and harmless. Do an image search for “mold vs. Kahm yeast ”so that you can see the difference side by side.
Quick pickled vegetables recipe
You don’t want to ferment, but instead want to put it in quickly? Try these quick pickled onions! Perfect for topping salads, original salad wraps or your favorite burger.
- 2 small onions
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (or you could use coconut vinegar)
- ½ tsp. Salt-
- 1 teaspoon. Coconut sugar
- Handful of black peppercorns
- 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic
For quick insertion, cut the onions into thin slices. Some people boil water and pour boiling water over the onions for 5-10 seconds to blanch them before pickling, but it is not necessary.
Mix the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl or saucepan. Stir or heat gently until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Put the sliced onions in a small mason jar. Add the peppercorns and garlic and pour the vinegar on top.
Cover the jar and refrigerate for an hour before enjoying. They’re best in the refrigerator after a few days, but can be enjoyed for about a week.
About the author
Priscilla is a food blogger, recipe developer, and personal chef based out of Missouri. He specializes in low-carb, paleo-free, gluten-free, keto, vegetarian and low-FODMAP cuisine. See what she’s cooking on Priscilla Cooks and follow her food adventures on Instagram and Pinterest.
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