Easy to Make & Delicious Fermented Veggies

Inspiration hit at Camp Ramshackle and I finally made fermented vegetables. I loosely followed the Golden recipe from The Versatile Vegetable by Miranda Barrett and Colleen Pollard with cabbage, golden beets, carrots, celery, ginger, lemon and garlic. I omitted the Granny Smith apple because every person/book I consulted said use only the freshest apples and my stash had been sitting for quite some time.
I made a stop at Culture Club in Pasadena and spoke with super helpful Elaina who set me up with a Pickl-It jar, some Caldwell’s Vegetable Starter Culture and some guidance (reiterating to use only the freshest apple).
I shredded up the vegetables, stirred in the starter and left the vegetables to ferment for ten days. When I pulled the jar out and popped the lid, I had a brief flash from the Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life when the Grim Reaper visits the farm house to inform the dinner guests that they died from the salmon mousse. I told my family I loved them and took a forkful. A delicious forkful and then other. I live to tell the tale.
I am enjoying the last of my first batch and plan on starting another. I even brought some for a camping dinner for friends on Santa Cruz Island. I’m happy to say not only did all the dinner guests survive, they also thought it was delicious.

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  1. Agree with Kirsten – I use the insert from my crock pot, push things down with a plate, weight it down with a ziploc bag of more brine, and masking-tape the cover down on top.
    What’s in the starter? You shouldn’t need more than just kosher salt.
    Totally agree with you about the Monty Python sketch. I’ve only done a handful of batches of kraut and kimchi and the first few bites go to me only because frankly, this whole fermentation thing makes me nervous. Gleeful, but nervous.

  2. Emilia, that’s a brilliant idea to modify the canning jars to incorporate a vapor lock. I know you can use canning jars without a vapor lock. I am a fan of the vapor lock though. As a novice pickler, I don’t regret the Pick-It purchase though.

    I’ll try a batch with just salt and see how the two compare. Rena, the plate with a ziplock of brine is a great idea too. In the The Versatile Vegetable, they recommend just using cabbage leaves and discarding them after moving the vegetables to the refrigerator, but they get kind of grimy. The plate with a bag of brine to hold it down is very clever.

  3. It is not a brillant idea to modify the canning jars in my humble opinion. There are ridges that are the size of the grand canyon as far as the amount of air that can get in – a lactofermented product by definition is NO AIR – not a little air – but none….that’s why the Pickl-its are so great – an easy affordable way to achieve this without having to go the traditional method of burying a crock into the ground to let if off-gas and keep new air out…really – these are the way to go if you want properly fermented food – with no mold or bad yeast getting in – it’s not fun or healthy to eat rotten food….

  4. The system is basically an airtight container with a gasket, airlock, and something to push the items down under the liquid. These items can be easily acquired for less the amount for the smallest Pickl-It jar.

    While the design is interesting, people have been able to do with without such equipment for years without illness or dying.

    As for mason jars being airtight, there is support that it is.

  5. Someone mentioned using a crock pot with a plastic bag to weight down? You should research the led content of crock pot glaze, not a great choice for fermenting container. Also, plastic leaches petrochemicals into your ferments because of the acidic brine.

    Note any open container will allow oxygen access to surface of brine which can lead to mold growth and less than optimal fermentation environment.

  6. I’ve been making my own sauerkraut and pickled veggies using both stainless steel and glass bowls ( not jars ) for years… as long as they are weighted down and covered with a baggie of brine to keep them submerged and in an anerobic(sp?) environment, it’s all good.

    I like the pickl-it jar and will probably buy one now that I know about it… but I also make various infused liqueurs that would benefit from it as well so it’s a good investment for me.

    As for the culture.. that’s not needed IMHO.

  7. Does there have to be zero air in the jar at all, or is it just zero air getting to the veggies because they’re submerged in the brine? My kraut and kimchi have turned out fine weighted with a plastic bag of brine, no lid taped on or even tightened. The only times I’ve had small instances of mold around the edges have been when the brine bag on top wasn’t big enough and a few bits of cabbage or veggie were exposed to the air. I pulled out the moldy bits and the rest of the batch seemed fine.

    I really think pickling salt, a tested recipe, and a food-safe container is all you need.

  8. @Robert: Yes, submersion in brine is all that is really necessary. Pickling devices just streamline the process–eliminating the need for fussing with plates or plastic bags & etc. Erik and I don’t have a device ourselves–we pickle like you do. But Julia’s post reminds us that we have wanted to try to rig up a homemade airlock device, just to see how it works.

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