Fermented vegetables have a frequent place at our table. We eat them in a host of different ways – from a topping to whatever it happens to be that we’re eating to incorporated in a host of tasty dishes. Given the variety of flavors you can create with fermented vegetables, they can be one of the most versatile items in your kitchen.

But they need to taste good in order to work well as an ingredient or standalone food item. Over the years I’ve found that our family has a preference for certain aspects of fermented vegetables and when these are lacking, we’re not nearly as excited about them.

Here are a few of our prerequisites and how we achieve them.


They need to be tangy. By their very nature, I think fermented vegetables should have a tang to them. I’ve had batches become overly tangy, especially when high temperatures or tomatoes are involved, but this is rare. So I generally allow them to ferment for at least a couple of weeks at a lower temperature to achieve tang while keeping crispness. I also find that, unless it’s very hot, less salt content contributes to a tangier ferment.

They need to have flavor dynamic. I often have several types of fermented vegetables going at once and I like to keep the flavors diverse using various vegetables, herbs, and flavorings. A finely shredded kraut, a chunky kimchi, and a collection of bobbing cucumber pickles can all be used to create dynamic meals.

They need to have kick. Aside from the tang and overall flavor component, I like something with spice and pungency. We achieve spice using cayenne, fresh jalapenos, or a larger portion of a milder Anaheim pepper. Pungency comes from garlic almost exclusively. Garlic is one of our favorite foods, and something we grow every year on our homestead, so it goes into most ferments.

So, that’s how we like our fermented vegetables. I’ve spoken with others who have different preferences and I think that’s great! Finding out what it is that you prefer can make utilizing fermented vegetables easier and, of course, tastier.