Fall Fermented Vegetables
After a long, hot summer of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers you might be looking forward to fall. And if you are a lacto-fermenting enthusiast then you may be thinking the fall vegetable ferments aren’t quite as familiar to you as the summer vegetable ferments were.
Part of this is because many of the fall crops - roots, squashes, and greens are often stored live in a root cellar instead of being fermented. There is, of course, the ubiquitous sauerkraut, but you can also ferment many of the other fall vegetables coming in as well.
Here are some ideas for fermenting those fall veggies:
While carrots can be stored “live” for winter by either leaving them in the ground and mulching over or storing them in a bucket with layers of sand, many prefer to ferment them for the added flavor and nutritional benefits.
Carrots are often added to other ferments like cortido to add flavor and color. They can also stand alone, though, in recipes such as:
Pumpkin & Squash
Unless you want to add probiotics to all of your vegetables, pumpkin and winter squash will generally keep without fermentation. Their thick rinds allow them to be stored for months in the cooler weather of fall and winter.
That being said, you can ferment squash with the following recipes. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you will most likely be peeling the squash in order to ferment the flesh. Because the outer rind will naturally contain the organisms naturally occurring from the soil to create the friendly bacteria in a lacto-ferment, you may want to include just a hunk of the peeled rind in your fermenting vessel.
Turnips aren’t often eaten in North America, but they are a fantastic winter-keeping root crop of the same family as the radish. These spicy roots are often eaten in combination with potatoes or simply mashed and buttered.
Another traditional way to eat turnips is fermented, as in sauerruben. For those who don’t prefer the bite that turnips can often have, some say the fermentation process actually cools off the flavor of the turnip. So enjoy!
Kale & Collards
Kale and collards are both members of the brassica family. Cousins of the cabbage, they can be used similarly in a ferment. So make them into a sauerkraut by chopping finely and adding flavors such as garlic and onions.
Beets, with their earthy sweetness, are delicious when fermented. Their high sugar content can be a point of concern as the fermentation process can quickly slide through lacto-fermentation and into alcohol fermentation.
For that reason, it is often recommended that you should ferment beets along with another vegetable, make kvass out of them, or be sure to leave them in chunks rather than shreds as the increased surface area can make your ferment an alcohol one rather than the desired lactic acid ferment.
When we picture fall fermentation we most often picture heads of cabbage being carried in from the garden, entire days spent shredding or chopping these heads, and fistfuls of cabbage and sea salt being thrown into five gallon crocks.
This can all be a reality in the modern day. You can also use canning jars instead of crocks with these recipes:
This is not an oft-eaten vegetable, whether cooked or fermented. It does, however, make a great fermented pickle. You can also combine it with other fall vegetables like carrots and onions to make a great vegetable medley ferment.