How To Ferment Vegetables At Home

July 17, 2021
by Rebecca Down Unpack Summer

    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 flavour and shelf life of ingredients like cabbages and cucumbers.

    Vegetables are covered in Lactobacillus, and when you slice them up, 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 flavour and creates an environment keeps the growth of nasty bacteria at bay.

    Many shop-bought fermented foods have been pasteurised and therefore are no longer ‘alive’ which makes them less flavourful and health-giving. The good thing is that fermenting vegetables at home is easy – all you need for these three recipes are some sterilised jars, vegetables, herbs and a bit of patience.

    It’s really important to sterilise your jars to avoid the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria, which could make you ill. Here, we’ve used 500ml jars for these ferments.

    • To sterilise the jars, heat your oven to 180C/160C fan
    • Rinse the jars and lids thoroughly in warm soapy water, then leave to dry on the draining rack, drying the lids with a clean tea 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


    • 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 water and close jars

    2. Mixed Fermented Veg


    • 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 balsamico
    • 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 caramelise 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


    • 1 head Chinese cabbage
    • 3 tablespoon salt
    • 2-3 garlic cloves
    • 1 spring onion, chopped
    • 2.5 tablespoons Gochugaru chili 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, sping onions, sugar and Gochugaru and mix
    7. Add kimchi mix to jars
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