Making a Root Vegetable Ferment

by Meg Cotner on November 29, 2013

Lately I’ve been feeling like my gut and digestive system could use a tune up (not to mention dealing with a recent bout of heartburn/GERD), so I decided to make a nice root vegetable ferment. My body loves lacto-fermented foods, and I had some beautiful carrots and rutabagas from the CSA this week, plus onion, garlic, and ginger were in the house. I also added some red pepper flakes to make it a little spicy.


I washed off the vegetables (and got rid of the carrot hairs), but didn’t peel them, since there are microbes on the outside of the vegetables that help in the fermentation process. I grated the rutabagas and carrots, chopped the onion into small pieces, and minced the garlic (2 peeled cloves) and an inch chunk of (unpeeled) ginger.


I added a good shake of red pepper flakes—maybe 1/2 a tsp. Then I added 1 tbs of kosher salt, which doesn’t have iodine (that also interferes with the fermentation process). I mixed it through, then pounded it with my awesome kraut pounder!


Photo credit: Cultures for Health

As you can see in the caption, I got it from Cultures For Health, which is an excellent website for things having to do with fermentation and cultures. This kraut pounder is a beautiful piece of wood shaped into a kind of tiny baseball bat (at least,┬áthat’s what it seems like to me). The thicker part is quite heavy relative to the rest of it, and does a bang up job of crushing grated root vegetables and cabbage. So, I pounded the vegetables for maybe 5 minutes to help get their juices flowing.

I then started to put the mixture in a widemouth quart jar—I have so many of them from days of preserving! I put a little sea salt in the bottom, then a handful of vegetables with a sprinkling of sea salt, and then I used the kraut pounder to press down on the vegetables to release their brine. It’s fantastic tool for this! It fits perfectly into a wide mouth Mason jar.

I kept layering the vegetables with salt and pressing them down into the Mason jar, and most of the vegetables fit into this one jar; what I had leftover fit just fine into a half-pint jar. I added some brine—1 and a half tablespoons of salt to a cup of water—to fill things up, leaving about a quarter inch of space between the brine and the lid.


I find that my root vegetable ferments tend to bubble over (they’re alive!), so I’ll put a jar in an 8 or 16 oz plastic container—like the kind you get at a deli. That catches any spillage.

My jars are now sitting in a dark cupboard doing their thing. I’ll check them in a few days and see how they are going. When they are ready, I’ll store them in the fridge in the door—that seems to be the best place for them.

I’ll post an update when they have fermented! Meanwhile, I’ll be chowing down on some yogurt (when I get my hands on some raw I’ll be straining it into delicious Greek-style yogurt) and sauerkraut from Brooklyn Brine. Yummy tasty stuff!

This post was featured on Fight Back Friday.

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