Fermenting Veggies 101: Cheap & Yummy Probiotics

 tomatoes, green beans, and garlic shoots

tomatoes, green beans, and garlic shoots

To make sauerkraut, or ferments with cabbage, go here. For all other veggies, this is the post you want!

Fermenting vegetables is a super easy way to preserve food, make it taste good, and make the vitamins and minerals more accessible to your body. It also contains a ton of probiotics. Do you know how much probiotics cost to buy them in pill form at the store?? A lot. But with these, you get more strains of good bacteria, for a crazy cheap price.

I think I like this so much because it is like the epitome of a lazy person's diet. You literally get to spend 10 minutes putting things in a jar, and then you can leave them on the counter until you feel like putting them in the fridge. Where they will last pretty much forever. And become extremely healthy.

How Do I Do It & What Can I Ferment?

You can ferment pretty much any vegetable. If you join this Facebook group, you can get some really good ideas, and you can ask questions if you get stuck. I've heard people say that fermented broccoli is pretty gross, though. Some are definitely better than others. 

My favorites are green beans and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes get soggy by the time the green beans are done, but I still like the tangy flavor. So, I'll tell you how to make these and you can substitute with pretty much any other vegetable you want!

You need:

green beans

cherry tomatoes

sea salt

filtered water

dried bay leaves, or something else with tannins, such as grape leaves or a black tea bag. this ensures that the veggies stay crunchy.

Create a brine by heating up the water and adding salt until it dissolves. You'll need enough water to fill your jar to the top. The general rule for sale is between 1-2 tbsp to a quart of water. If you're making pickles, you'll want more - close to 3 tbsp. If you add more than 3 tbsp to a quart of water, you are raising the salinity to above 5%, which will inhibit fermentation (not good.)

Let the brine cool down while you:

Fill a glass jar with the green beans and tomatoes. I like to snip the ends off the beans and cut the tomatoes in half, but you don't have to if you don't want to. Sometimes I add black peppercorns for flavor. In the picture above, I added garlic scapes as well. Add a couple bay leaves, or whatever you're using to keep the veggies crisp.

Pack the jar really full. Once the brine is full, pour the brine over the vegetables. If you position the green beans in the right way (think about it), you should be able to keep all the veggies under the water. They need to be submerged so they don't mold! If you can't get them to stay down, you can add something as a weight. A rock works (boil it to sanitize first), or a smaller glass jar, or something along those lines. Then put the lid on the jar and leave it. 

You will notice that within a day or so your ferment starts bubbling. This is really good. What is not good is if you let the pressure build up inside so much that the glass explodes (yep, that can happen.) So! You'll want to "burp" the jar every so often. Maybe once a day if you want to be cautious. All that means is that you open and close the jar. 

How long you leave it is up to you. A few weeks is best for optimal probiotic content. I'm usually really impatient and sometimes don't make it more than a week. Definitely wait at least a week or two. I would start tasting it close to two weeks, and then see how the taste changes from there. Warmer temperatures can influence how quickly something ferments, so your timing might be different in the summer as opposed to in the winter. Once you feel that it's ready to eat, put it in the fridge to slow down fermentation. It should be tangy and sort of sour and pickly, but in a pleasant way!

Also, once you've eaten all the veggies, the brine that's left is still full of probiotics and is good to drink. You can't use it to make more vegetables, though - the bacteria are in different stages and it won't work out.