Most basic fermented vegetable recipes require minimal ingredients, including the vegetables, salt, and water. Some more complex recipes may also include whey or a starter culture to ferment the vegetables faster. Many fermenting specialists, including Cultures for Health, recommend the simple saltwater fermentation method because it provides ideal texture and flavor for fermenting vegetables.
To make simple fermented vegetables, select a fermentation vessel, which can be any glass or ceramic airtight lidded container, including mason jars or specialty crocks. Prepare the vegetables by washing them under cold running water and shredding, grating, slicing or chopping them. Prepare the brine by combining contaminant-free water with salt, using approximately 1/8 cup salt for each 2 cups water. If desired, add herbs or other seasonings such as black peppercorns, bay leaves, sesame seeds, mustard seeds or garlic. Add the vegetables to the vessel, submerge them in the brine, and add the lid to the vessel.
In some cases, adding a thin layer of olive oil to the top of the vegetables can help maintain the anaerobic environment necessary for safe fermentation. Other options include adding a weight to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine. Leave the vessel at room temperature, and allow the vegetables to ferment until achieving the desired flavor. The process typically takes at least three days, and it may take up to several weeks. Store the fermented vegetables in the refrigerator for approximately six months.