Fermentation as a Food Preservation Method: How to Save Your Veggies

Fermentation as a Food Preservation Method: How to Save Your Veggies

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There are times when life gets ahead of us and we have too many vegetables! We think to ourselves, “What food preservation method can I use that can help me keep these longer…I hate wasting them!”

I’m in the same boat as you. 

I pickle and dehydrate things but that is about how far my preservation skills go. 

Fermentation has been around for years. Scientists have found in-ground ferment pits of vegetables that were still edible thousands of years later. 

It could be the perfect way for you to hold onto more of your vegetables…

But it’s complicated, right?

That’s why I’ve teamed up with our friend Robin from Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen, located in Georgetown, TX, for a Q & A to shed some light on this food preservation method and…


Have her join us on the farm on May 15th, 2021 to teach us how to do it (link below to sign up for the class)!

A Little Spotlight on Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen

Robin has been in the natural health and education setting for over 20 years. In 2015, she founded Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen, a place that people could get wholesome foods, natural remedies, and cleaner skincare items.

She started her business at farmers’ markets and has now opened up a brick-and-mortar space where people can rent the kitchen to make their own goods and sell them through her retail shop, and take classes about cooking, healthy living, natural health, and more (1).

To find out more about Robin and Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen, visit her site here. 

Q & A with Robin on Fermentation as a Food Preservation Method

What is Fermentation?

Fermentation is a way to preserve food using the natural bacteria found on living plants. The practice is very old. I have heard that they have found fermented foods in Egyptian tombs that are still edible to this day. 

(The earliest record of fermentation stems back to 6000 B.C. and there is evidence of this food preservation method in every culture since (2)!

How is fermentation good for our bodies?

Fermentation increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the foods making them way more nutrient-dense than not fermenting them. The foods can have up to 30 different strains of probiotic material which are very gut healing.

What vegetables are best to ferment?

Whatever your heart desires! You can ferment anything from roots, tubers, leafy greens, herbs, flowers, fruit, etc. 

You just said all vegetables are good to ferment, so I take it there are NOT any there are NOT good to ferment? 

Actually, it depends on your taste preferences. Some vegetables, like radishes or broccoli, can be very stinky and pungent. If you do not like that, then you may have a hard time with them fermented. But they are still ok to ferment.

What are some best practices when beginning to ferment?

You want to make sure all of your supplies are clean. They don’t have to be sterilized like you would when you’re pickling, just hot soapy water works fine. 

Make sure to clean your vegetables well. If you’re going to do something like potatoes, you want to scrub them to make sure all the dirt is gone.

A huge thing when you’re fermenting is that you do not want to use conventionally grown vegetables. All the pesticides and things they use on the vegetables kill the bacteria that you’re looking for to ferment your foods. Make sure to use vegetables that are as natural and organic as possible (like the veggies from Isle Acre Farms).

If you’re using water, make sure it is spring water. Distilled water has been stripped of all-natural things and can deter fermentation.

I have dabbled in fermentation as a food preservation method, but I’m always scared that things are going to go wrong and it’s going to go bad. How can you tell when things are wrong?

There is a yeast that grows on fermented foods, it’s called Kham yeast and that is good to have. But it can look like mold. Mold grows in circles and looks hairy. Mold happens when the vegetables come up out of the brine (liquid). In my classes, I teach what things to look for so you know you have a good, edible product. 

It’s a little overwhelming all the fermentation supplies out there, do I need fancy things like burping lids, etc.?

No. You just need plain old mason jars with the lids they come with. There are tons of things on the market but you really don’t need all that. 

We do use a good quality salt with high mineral content, like pink Himalayan salt, nothing iodized or treated like regular table salt. 

You’ll want clean spring water to make sure it has all the natural elements of water. 

You’ll need some wax paper and a weight to make sure the vegetables stay under the brine. 

Can you give me a quick overview of how to ferment something simple like sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is very easy. Cabbage is the vegetable used and a lot of people put caraway seeds in it, that’s the typical flavoring but you can add anything else you’d like, for example like fennel.

For every pound of cabbage, you’ll want 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons of salt. No water is needed. 

You will want to finely chop the cabbage and massage the salt into it until it starts to liquefy. 

Then add that to your jars. Place a piece of wax paper on the top and then the weight to make sure the cabbage stays in the liquid.

You’ll want to “burp” your jars once a day. You just take the lid off and it will “burp” it. 

When you start to see bubbles coming up the side of the jars, taste it and see if it’s to your liking. The longer it sits the sourer it gets.

Different vegetables take longer to ferment so it will just be a taste preference to you. 

If you’re ready to grow your own veggies to ferment, grab a copy of our Start Your Garden Workbook!