How to Ferment Vegetables at Home

April 9, 2020
by Katherine Sousa Eat

    Fermenting is a simple and delicious way to preserve vegetables with added health benefits. Learn how to ferment vegetables for homemade kimchi or pickles.

    What is fermentation?

    Fermentation promotes the growth and life cycle of good bacteria to transform the flavor and shelf life of ingredients like cabbages and cucumbers.

    Vegetables are covered in lactobacillus, and when you slice, grate, and squeeze them with salt, they release their juices to create a delicious brine. When contained within this briny environment, lactobacillus multiplies and breaks down the ingredient, digesting the natural sugars and transforming them into lactic acid, which creates the tangy flavor and creates an environment that keeps the growth of nasty bacteria at bay.

    More than likely you’re buying these already made at the grocery store. Did you know you can do this at home and it’s easy to do! It tastes amazing and helps to reduce your food waste. All you need for these three recipes are sterilized jars, vegetables, and herbs.

    Before you start to ferment vegetables, it’s really important to sterilize your jars to avoid the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria. We’ve used 500ml jars for these ferments and here’s how to sterilize them:

    • Heat your oven to 350F.
    • Rinse the jars and lids thoroughly in warm soapy water, then leave to dry on the draining rack, drying the lids with a clean kitchen towel.
    • Put your jars on a shelf in the oven for 15 mins, then remove with oven gloves.
    • Once cool, they are ready to use.

    1. Pickled cucumbers

    pickled cucumbers and onions


    • 500 g small cucumbers
    • 50 g salt
    • 250 ml herbal vinegar
    • 375 ml water
    • 50 g sugar
    • 10 pearl onions
    • 2 small garlic cloves
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
    • 2 bay leaves
    • Half bunch of dill
    • 2 canning jars with lid (500 ml)


    1. Wash cucumbers, dry and add with salt in a bowl
    2. Cover with cold water and let sit overnight
    3. Mix 375 ml water, sugar, onion, garlic and all herbs and bring to boil
    4. Add chopped dill
    5. Remove cucumber water and add fresh water to cucumbers and let sit for 15 minutes.
    6. Clean out jars and add cucumbers, garlic, and onions
    7. Add herbal vinegar and close jars

    2. Mixed Fermented Veg

    how to ferment vegetables fermented vegetables


    • 1 kg fresh vegetables: courgette, pepper, aubergine, fennel, cherry tomatoes
    • 5 garlic cloves
    • Bunch fresh thyme
    • Bunch fresh rosemary
    • 75 ml olive oil
    • 25 g sugar
    • 500 ml white balsamic
    • ½ tablespoon salt
    • 2 pinches preserve helper
    • 5 canning jars with lid (200ml)


    1. Wash vegetables and cut in big pieces, cut fennel in slices
    2. Leave tomatoes in whole
    3. Peel garlic cloves
    4. Wash jars with hot water
    5. Heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan and fry vegetables at high heat
    6. Add vegetables and garlic in layers in the jars with the whole branch of herbs
    7. Let sugar caramelize in a hot pan and deglaze with white balsamic
    8. Add salt and pepper and bring to boil until sugar is dissolved
    9. Add preserver helper
    10. Fill brew in jars with veggies and close

    3. Easy Kimchi Recipe

    pickled cabbagefermented cabbage


    • 1 head Chinese cabbage
    • 3 tablespoon salt
    • 2-3 garlic cloves
    • 1 spring onion, chopped
    • 2.5 tablespoons Gochugaru chilli powder
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 canning jars with lid 500ml


    1. Wash Chinese cabbage and cut in pieces
    2. Add to a bowl and mix with salt – mix with hands – use gloves
    3. Let sit 2-3 hours, mix again, repeat twice – finally let sit for 1-2 hours
    4. Cabbage should be soft by then
    5. Quickly wash kimchi – not too long, so salty taste stays
    6. Add Garlic cloves, spring onions, sugar and Gochugaru and mix
    7. Add kimchi mix to jars
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