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Three mason jars, full of fermenting things. Two Bánh Mì(ish) and one eggs.
Figure 1. Three mason jars, full of fermenting vegetables. Two Bánh Mì(ish) and one eggs.

I’ve been fermenting vegetables of various kinds (and occasionally other things) at home for a little over two years. It’s a fun, interesting & nutritious hobby. On the whole it’s pretty easy and low stakes – the worst thing that happens is a few cucumbers go mouldy.

Because it doesn’t involve any heat – but does include pouring, measuring, stirring, spiralizing, grating (and some chopping) – it’s ideal to do with little kids.

According to my notes (which I didn’t start initially), I’ve made ~56 batches of ferments, ranging in size from a single 1l mason jar, to three 2l ones.

These are my lessons so far:

The difference between science & screwing around, is writing it down

As they say, the …

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Spiralized carrots & daikon radish, with halved Jalapeno, in the brine ready to ferment.
Figure 1. Spiralized carrots & daikon radish, with halved Jalapeno, in the brine ready to ferment.

This is a rather loose adaptation of a traditional Vietnamese recipe, often used as a filling in Bánh Mì. You can google for lots of variations. Đồ Chua is often made as a vinegar pickle, with added sugar – this recipe is a lacto-fermented version.

The basic idea is to spiralize (or grate) & mix everything, except the chilies. Then pack all the spiralized vegetables into jars, with the halved chilies slid down the side, topping up with brine.

Start be making the basic brine and leave to dissolve while you prepare the vegetables.

Basic Brine

Important to measure carefully. This is the brine I use for most simple ferments, unless I find a recipe that has a good reason for using something different:

  • 45g salt per …
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Two mason jars, full of fermenting cucumbers.
Figure 1. Two mason jars, full of cucumbers, just gone in. Both using this recipe, one with added chilli flakes, one with added Sichuan pepper.

Here’s my lacto-fermented cucumbers recipe. This is adapted from the great Wild Fermentation book. I’ve honed this recipe to perfection over many trials – but you’ll need to try it a few times and adjust it to your particular cucumbers, climate & tastes, I expect.

Although mini-cucumbers are the archetypal “pickle”, this recipe is not limited to just cucumbers. Pretty much any crunchy vegetable can be fermented like this. Basically, any vegetable that’s crunchy will ferment well this way.

This is essentially two recipes: one for making the “basic brine” – which I use for lots of similar ferments – and one for making the fermented cucumbers, using the brine. Both recipes are very simple …

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