This lacto-fermented vegetable recipe appeared in Wise Traditions,, Fall 2011. Lacto-fermented vegetable recipes often are cabbage-based– this one is not and is a refreshing change as well as being easier to make. I made a few changes to the original recipe after experimenting with it. Besides being delicious–especially on salads, hot dogs, egg dishes, and with cheese–it is full of probiotics which are very healing to the digestive system. Unlike other relishes, the ingredients are never cooked thus preserving nutrient levels and enzymes. The fermentation process makes the raw ingredients very easy to digest–be sure not to heat it! It will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.
2 medium small zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped fine
1 medium-sized red onion, chopped fine
1 daikon radish, halved lengthwise and then chopped in 1/8 inch slices, optional OR 1 cucumber, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. sea salt (I prefer Lima)
1 grape or oak leaf to maintain crispness (optional)
herbs of your choice are optional–1 tsp. dill weed and 1 tsp ground or whole caraway seeds are my favorite addition
Mix all ingredients except the leaf in a bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
Place the leaf in the bottom of a glass quart-sized or 1/2 gallon-sized mason jar (wide-mouth jar is best so that the weight fits in). Spoon vegetable mix into the jar and be sure to pour all liquid into the jar also. Press the vegetables for 5 minutes or so by pressing down with a spoon to assist with release of liquid from the vegetables; this step is not always necessary as long as there is enough liquid to cover the vegetables in the jar. Be sure to leave at least 2 inches of air space at the top of the jar so that as the veggies ferment and bubble out gases the liquid doesn’t overflow the jar. For the weight that keeps the vegetables submerged in the liquid, use another smaller jar that fits inside the quart mason jar–any size that fits inside the mason jar is ok as long as it is tall enough for easy removal. You can fill the smaller jar with water so that is heavier. Press it down once or twice a day to assist with release of gas bubbles.
Put a towel or cheese cloth held in place with a rubberband over the top. Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days. Depending on how warm it is, the fermentation time will vary so taste the mixture every day. Keep refrigerated when you are ready to stop fermentation. If you prefer a crisp texture, refrigerate after 2 days. Also, consider adding the chopped cucumber after the fermentation of the other ingredients and right before you refrigerate so that the cucumbers will be crisp. Lots of options! Just be sure you get lots of fermentation bubbles going (indicating the growth of probiotic bacteria) before you refrigerate.