MEarth Home Kitchen Presents: Pickling

Lacto-Fermented Cauliflower 

(adapted from The Kitchn)

Note: makes one 24 oz jar of pickles


  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced in rings
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly slice in strips or chunks
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 in knob of ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp whole peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 1 tbsp non-iodized kosher salt  


  1. Dissolve salt into water. If needed, heat up water to make dissolving easier, but allow water to cool to room temperature before using.
  2. In a sterilized jar, pack all vegetables and flavorings as tightly as possible into jar.
  3. Pour brine into jar and ensure that all vegetables are completely submerged in the brine.
  4. Tightly screw on jar and leave in dark cool place at room temperature.
  5. Check on pickles each day to release any pressure build-up as well as check the flavor. If any mold or scum develops, simply skim off the top.
  6. When the pickles are at their preferred taste, move jar to fridge to slow fermentation process. Pickles will keep at least a month, if not longer

Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can. It is also recommended to rinse the vegetables in un-chlorinated water rather than tap water.

Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon


2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 small daikon, thinly sliced
1 tbsp non-iodized salt
½ cup distilled water
1 tbsp sugar or honey
½ cup white vinegar (5% acidity)


  1. Mix vinegar and water
  2. Dissolve salt and sugar into vinegar solution
  3. Pack vegetables tightly into sterilized jar
  4. Pour vinegar brine into jar
  5. Let sit at least 20 minutes before using
  6. Store in refrigerator

Lacto fermentation

Iodine-free salt, “hard” vegetables, and water

(Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can)

Stay within the range of 1-3 tablespoons salt per quart, and with minor adjustments, you will produce delicious, nutritious fermented vegetables every time!

dill pickles, kimchi, and real sauerkraut

Some of the most common foods used for lacto-fermentation include:







snap peas


green beans


Follow these tips and banish the fears that are preventing these healing foods from being in your life.

Use fresh ingredients. Don’t use old, soggy cabbage or vegetables for your ferments. At this point they already started rotting on their own and could cause a ferment to go bad.

Maintain good hygiene – Clean your vegetables. Wash your tools and hands with hot, soapy water before use.

Use the exact amount of salt the recipe calls for. Some people are concerned about salt content, but it’s extremely important to create an environment that is inhospitable for harmful bacteria to survive. All my recipes are tested and use the right amount of salt for safe fermentation without being too salty.

Salt distribution – Make sure salt is evenly distributed in the cabbage when making sauerkraut. When making pickles make sure salt is completely dissolved in the brine.

Do not use iodized salt or table salt. Table salt has additives that can make the ferment go bad. I recommend fine high quality sea salt.

Purified water – Make sure to always use either distilled or purified water when fermenting vegetables. Tap water contains chemicals like chlorine that harm good bacteria, which could lead to a bad ferment.

Make sure everything is submerged in brine

The sweet spot for most ferments is a 2% – 3% brine solution, with a few vegetables benefiting from stronger brine, up to 5% salinity.

Firm vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, onions, garlic, asparagus, and green beans can all be fermented successfully with a 2 to 3% brine. That’s 20 to 30 grams of salt for each liter of water.

Cucumber pickles are very perishable and very full of water (which eventually dilutes the brine), and so need a bit more salt to ferment reliably. A 5% brine, or 50 grams of salt per liter of water, is good for cucumber pickles. Peppers are more prone to mold than many other vegetables, so they are typically fermented in a slightly stronger brine, too. A 3% to 5% brine usually works well for whole or large-chunk peppers.

A 10% brine is used for highly perishable foods, fermentation in hot weather, or for situations where food can’t be kept refrigerated after fermentation. This is beyond the scope of this article or my personal knowledge, but apparently feta, fish sauce, and other protein foods are typically preserved in a 10% brine solution.

Vinegar/acid (Quick pickle)

For quick pickles, a basic brine is equal parts vinegar and water, but you can adjust the ratio to your preference. Any basic vinegar is game — white vinegar, apple cider, white wine, and rice vinegar all work well. You can use these vinegars alone or in combination. Steer clear of aged or concentrated vinegars like balsamic or malt vinegar for pickling.

Fresh herbs: dill, thyme, oregano, and rosemary hold up well

Dried herbs: thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano, or majoram

Garlic cloves: smashed for mild garlic flavor, or sliced for stronger garlic flavor

Fresh ginger: peeled and thinly sliced

Whole spices: mustard seed, coriander, peppercorns, red pepper flakes

Ground spices: turmeric or smoked paprika are great for both color and flavor

A general rule is 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 water when making brine. This ratio will result in an acidic enough base for whatever vegetable you choose to pickle. Other recipes may have a lighter vinegar brine but you must follow the exact recipe when using those or risk spoilage.

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