How To Preserve Foods Through Fermentation {Plus a Spicy Carrots Recipe}

by Chrystal Johnson on September 7, 2012

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Imagine this scenario for a moment. Your family loses electricity and gas due to an emergency or disaster. You don’t know when power will be restored. Your garden is ready to harvest and you need some way to preserve the food. You can’t can your food under these circumstances, so what are you going to do?

Fermentation is a wonderful and healthy way to preserve foods. They won’t store as long as canned foods, but they do store long enough for you to be able to save the produce from your garden while benefitting your family’s health.

Even if you’re not in a situation where you have to ferment to preserve foods, I highly recommend eating fermented foods. It’s a great way to add a natural source of probiotics to your family’s diet.

If you’re new to fermented foods, you can read my original post on fermenting foods from just over 2 years ago. In that post, I shared how to make fermented sauerkraut (so much better than store bought) and fermented dill pickles (yum!).

You can ferment many foods by simply putting them in a brine of 3 tablespoons of unrefined sea salt and 1 quart of filtered, chlorine-free water. Then you just let them sit on the counter for several days.

One of my favorite things to ferment is carrots, onions and jalapeños. I recently got some jalapeños from my sister’s garden, so I was excited to put them to use. If you like spicy foods, you’ll love this recipe!

To start, slice up carrots (at an angle is best), jalapeños and an onion and place them in a bowl. I recommend wearing gloves to slice jalapeños. This is 6 large carrots, 6 jalapeños and 1 large onion. The ratio isn’t important, as long as it looks like the right ratio for your taste buds. If you don’t like things really spicy, you can de-seed the jalapeños, but I leave the seeds.

Distribute the carrots, onions and jalapeños evenly in pint or quart jars (you can also use a fermenting crock). Then you mix a ratio of 1 quart of filtered water (it needs to be chlorine free for fermentation to work) with 3 tablespoons of sea salt. Pour it over the vegetables until they are covered. Be sure to leave some headspace in the jar.

It’s best to weight down the veggies in the jar so they stay below the water line. You can use plastic or ceramic, but do not use metal as it will interrupt the fermentation process. I like to use onion skins.

Then put a lid and ring on the jars, but not too tight. I save my used lids from canning and reuse them for fermenting since the seal doesn’t need to be tight.

Move the jars to somewhere that they won’t be disturbed. It’s best to put them on a towel as sometimes fermentation can get a little bubbly if the jar is too full.

How long it takes for them to ferment is going to depend on your climate, altitude and a variety of other factors. They could be done in 5 days or it could take 2 weeks. Everything will start to change color slightly and the water will look bubbly when the fermentation process is working. You can open the jar and taste one of the carrots to test it out. If it tastes salty, it’s not done.

When you’re satisfied with their fermentation level, you can move them to a dark, cool cabinet, a root cellar or put them in the refrigerator. Most fermented foods should be eaten within 6 months (I have some that lasted over a year).

If you want to learn more about the power of fermented foods, these are 2 of my favorite resources.

In the next post, I’ll share another one of my favorite fermentation recipes.

About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelly September 7, 2012 at 6:03 am

I can’t wait to try this! I have one question, or really more of a clarification. When the fermentation is done, do you tighten the lids before moving them to storage? I have Weck jars. I imagine I could leave them without the clips through fermentation and then put the clips on to move them to storage.

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2 Chrystal September 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

Yes, I store them with the lids screwed on. I have never used Wreck jars, but you want to make sure the jar is covered while you’re fermenting so no flies or bugs get into it.

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3 Steph September 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

I cannot wait to try this! We live in a city apartment right now,but my inlaws have a garden and want to bring us more than we can eat in a week. I bet some fermented cauliflower would be good!

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4 Chrystal September 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

Fermented cauliflower is great! Those 2 cookbooks have some good recipes in them too. I haven’t tried Kimchi yet, but it’s next on my list.

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5 Carole December 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

These pickles look so pretty. Bet they taste sensational. Thanks for linking in to Food on Friday. Happy Holidays!
Carole recently posted..Food on Friday – Onions

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6 Chrystal Johnson December 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

They are delicious – and very spicy!

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7 ace January 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Do you remove the onion skins when the fermentation is done? Otherwise, won’t they be just as moldy/whatever as the carrots would have been, if they’d been exposed to air?

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8 Chrystal Johnson January 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I press them down below the water level. They stay under the water level much easier than smaller pieces that would otherwise just float to the top. I haven’t had any problems with mold.

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