How to make Cultured Veg

Anyone can make it, it’s about chopping, salting and stuffing a jar.. 

The jar

Choose your fermentation vessel. You don’t need a fermentation crock or a fancy jar with an airlock to make your own cultured veggies. Flip top/ clamp down or fido jars are my favourite to use because it’s made of glass meaning there’ll be no reaction with metal or plastic. Basically, any jar will do as you can line a metal lid with parchment paper to prevent the ferment to react with the metal. The deal with the flip top or clamp down jars is that they have a gasket and that allows for air to go out of the jar and because of the pressure building up inside of the jar no air can enter and this creates a low oxygen environment lactic acid bacteria love and thrive in. This means fewer chances of mold developing.

Choose how you’ll make your ferment

Using salt only

Traditionally cultured vegetables have been made with using salt only. When using salt only the ferment might need a little bit more time to reach maturity depending on the size of the batch you are making. Before we look at using whey as a starter, I have to mention that it’s not necessary to add a starter as all vegetables already have the lactic acid bacteria it needs to put the fermentation process in motion, we are adding salt to halt the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Read below to find out more about veggies that might need a starter to set the pace.

Using Whey as a starter

Kefir whey or even yogurt whey can be used as a starter to make a lovely batch of cultured veg but as mentioned before adding starters to veggie ferments isn’t really the traditional way of doing it. Whey is added as a safety measure, it lowers the pH early in the ferment so that pathogens can’t interfere with the early stages of the ferment. Adding whey makes the ferment mature quicker. The problem many people have with using whey as a starter is that it has a set of bacteria of its own and once added to the ferment it will fight for dominance and can outnumber the naturally occurring bacteria of the vegetables like Lactobacillus plantarum.  Adding whey can sometimes change the taste of the ferment and that’s why I rather choose to use whey made from homemade Greek yogurt.  You may need a starter when fermenting onions. “Onions are the only vegetable we now of that lack intrinsic lactic acid bacteria”  In the Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences it’s mentioned that Sweet Pepper, Pattypan Squash, and Tomatoes need starter cultures for a lactic acid ferment.*

Getting the Ingredients Ready

Almost any vegetable can be fermented, just make sure you use the freshest veggies available to you. Chances of getting Kham yeast lessens the fresher your veggies are, it’s a harmless white yeast that develops on top of the ferment if the veggies aren’t fresh. You’ll need a good quality salt, Pink Himalayan salt is one of my favorites, desert salt, and kosher salt can be used.

Let’s get started

Making fermented veggies without using a starter see recipe here 

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