5 No-Fail Fermented Food Recipes for Beginners (2024)

5 No-Fail Fermented Food Recipes for Beginners (1)

At first glance, fermentation may seem complicated and mysterious. How do you turn fresh vegetables into delectable fermented foods without magic? And which are the best fermented food recipes?

Well, I’m here to reassure you that no special powers are needed to understand and master the art of fermentation.

In fact, once you’re familiar with the process and try a recipe or two you’ll be shocked at how easy and foolproof it can be.

I was a newbie about 18 months ago and now I’m obsessed with all things fermentation. For proof, come over and take a look at my kitchen counter right now, which has no less than five jars of vegetables in various stages of fermentation. Yum!

Once you start looking around the internet it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of recipes out there. How do you choose? Luckily, I have a few shortcuts for you!

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The Best Fermented Food Recipes for Beginners

When I was a newbie fermentista I simply looked up a sauerkraut recipe on the internet and got to work. Imagine my disappointment a few weeks later when I excitedly dipped into my new batch only to be disgusted by how it tasted.

What a waste of cabbage!

After a few struggling sessions, some friends of mine suggested I check out the bookFermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. The beginning of the book features a large section where they teach you all about the process of fermentation so you understand everything that’s happening and feel confident that you can be successful.

The rest of the book features amazing recipes for pretty much any vegetable you might have coming out of your garden or happen to buy at your local farmers market.

If you’re looking to delve into the art of fermentation I can’t recommend this book enough.

I love it so much that all of the recipes I’m sharing come straight from the well-worn pages of my copy of the book. This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just a fan of this book! Due to copyright laws I can’t reprint their recipes on my blog without permission.

It’s a popular book, so I’m sure you can even find it at your local library!

Read more about the supplies you’ll need to get started making fermented vegetables.

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5 No-Fail Fermented Food Recipes

#1: Curtido

Sauerkraut is a very popular first ferment for many people. Especiallywhere I live in Wisconsin, where our German heritage leads us to use it as a topping for bratwurst!

Curtido is the Latin American version of sauerkraut – a spicier and zippier version of its plain cousin.

Featured Vegetables: I like the addition of onions, garlic, and carrots in this recipe because I grow all three in my garden. You’ll also be adding oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes.

How to use it? I eat two fried eggs every morning for breakfast and always put a heaping pile of curtido on top. We also love it as a topping for tacos, include it in our hummus wraps, and put a dollop on many bowls of soup and stir fry.

Where to find the recipe: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, pg. 133.

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#2: Kimchi

Since I always have a least one half gallon jar of Curtido in my fridge I thought I’d branch out and try another cabbage ferment.

Kimchi, a staple of Koren cuisine, features Napa cabbage instead of the regular garden variety cabbage you commonly found at the grocery store. I don’t grow it in my garden, but I do have luck finding at least one farmer who’s selling it at my local market in spring and again in fall.

Featured Vegetables: Kimchi also includes daikon radish, carrots, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper flakes.

How to use it?I use my kimchi in all the same ways I eat curtido– with eggs, in wraps, on tacos, and with pretty much everything else, except maybe chocolate…

Where to find the recipe: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, pg. 141.

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#3: Sweet Red Pepper Salsa

This sweet and spicy fermented salsa looks and tastes like tomato salsa, but you’ll be surprised to find out that the recipe calls for zero tomatoes. I usually make it once or twice in late summer and early fall when my red pepper plantsare pumping out baskets of fruit. I’ll often mix in yellow and orange peppers as well.

This is my #1 favorite fermented foods recipe to date.

Featured Vegetables: Red peppers, jalapenos, onions, and garlic.

How to use it?We have a tough time keeping this ferment in stock throughout the whole winter. It goes quickly, even when I make over a gallon. It’s delicious on anything you’d regularly eat with tomato salsa – tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chips, etc.

Where to find the recipe: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, pg. 215.

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#4: Edgy Veggies

The authors of the book were inspired to create this recipe by the dishes of pickled carrots and jalapenos served in many Mexican restaurants. I love how the cauliflower remains crisp and crunchy and the peppers lend some heat to the mix.

Featured Vegetables: Cauliflower, carrots, jalapenos, onions, garlic, oregano.

How to use it? My husband eats a small bowl for an after-work snack several days of the week. I like to slice some up and use them as a quick and savory topping for tacos.

Where to find the recipe: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, pg. 155.

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#5: New York Deli Style Pickles

I have memories of reaching my hand into the pickle barrel at the corner deli when I was a child in Philadelphia. The pickles there were firm, crisp, and likely to elicit a “sour puss” face when bitten into.

Those are my favorite kind of pickles and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. I make the sour face every single time!

Featured Vegetables: Cucumbers, garlic, bay leaves, dried chiles, mustard seed, dill seed, or fresh dill heads.

How to use it?We eat a lot of hummus wraps when traveling and my favorite accompaniment is a handful of pickle spears. Popping a whole pickle into your mouth for a mid-afternoon snack is also encouraged!

Where to find the recipe: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs, pg. 168. Go for the full sours!

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When you’re ready to dive into learning how to turn fresh vegetables into nutrient-packed fermented foods I hope these five fermented food recipes will lead to many delicious meals and many more experiments in the kitchen.

Read more about the supplies you’ll need to get started making fermented vegetables.

What’s one of your favorite fermented food recipes? Share in the comments below.


5 No-Fail Fermented Food Recipes for Beginners (2024)


What is the easiest fermented food to make at home? ›

Sauerkraut is one of the simplest fermented foods to make. It only contains two ingredients – cabbage and salt – although sometimes caraway seeds are added too. To make sauerkraut, all you have to do is shred your cabbage, cover it with salt, and mix around.

Why doesn't fermented food make you sick? ›

The goal of fermentation is to kill bad bacteria while allowing probiotics to thrive. These probiotics have many undisputed health benefits. Some of these include improved digestive health and a boosted immune system. But just because there are health benefits doesn't mean there aren't any negative side effects.

What fermented foods should I eat daily? ›

7 Must-Eat Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Kimchi.
  • Kefir.
  • Kombucha.
  • Miso.
  • Tempeh.
  • Yogurt.
Sep 26, 2023

What is the healthiest fermented food? ›

Fermented Foods for Gut Health
  • Kefir.
  • Plain Yogurt.
  • Dry Curd Cottage Cheese or Farmer's Cheese, or fermented cottage cheese.
  • Certain aged cheeses (check label for live and active cultures)
  • Fermented Vegetables.
  • Tempeh (choose gluten free)
  • Miso (refrigerated)
  • Pickles (in salt, not vinegar)
Jun 19, 2019

What happens when you start eating fermented foods? ›

Boosts Your Immune System

The bacteria that live in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can give your immune system a boost and reduce your risk of infections like the common cold ( 12 , 13 , 14 ).

Which fermented food has the most probiotics? ›

Foods With the Highest Probiotic Content
Fermented FoodLiving CellsServing Size
Water kefir500 billion250 ml
Kimchi250 billion250 ml
Sauerkraut25 billion250 ml
Miso25 billion3 tbsp.
6 more rows

What happens if you eat fermented foods everyday? ›

Consistently eating fermented foods has been associated with weight loss, reduced obesity, and maintaining a healthy weight. However, these effects are only present with fermented foods as part of an overall health plan that includes movement and stress reduction.

What are the disadvantages of fermented foods? ›

The downside of fermentation

Another disadvantage is the high sodium levels in many fermented foods. Under some conditions, harmful microbes may also cause undesirable effects from the ingestion of fermented foods in certain conditions, such as mycotoxicosis and botulinism.

Is it bad to eat fermented food every day? ›

While there are currently no official guidelines regarding how often you should eat fermented foods, adding a few servings to your daily diet may be beneficial ( 44 ). For the best results, start by eating one or two servings per day, and then slowly work your way up.

Is apple cider vinegar a fermented food? ›

Apple cider vinegar is made through a process called fermentation. The process has two steps. First, the apples are crushed and yeast is added to speed up the fermentation process, so the sugar converts into alcohol after a few weeks.

What foods ferment in the colon? ›

Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic-containing spices, onions, mushrooms, lentils, and other legumes. Milk and milk products. Foods containing wheat and rye, which contain little absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates that are ideal for bacterial fermentation.

Is cottage cheese fermented? ›

Cottage cheese is fermented. Like all dairy products, cottage cheese begins as milk. Adding enzymes or live, active cultures (probiotics) converts milk sugars (lactose) into lactic acid. The lactic acid separates the curds (the milk solids, fats, and proteins) from the whey (the liquid).

What are the simplest fermented foods? ›

Cabbage, salt and caraway seeds; sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented foods to make. Basically you pack all the ingredients into a clean jar and ferment for 3 to 10 days. Since it's a fermented food, it will then keep for several months. Check out this basic sauerkraut recipe to get started.

How to make simple fermented food? ›

Here's how to make fermented vegetables from scratch using the simple brine method:
  1. Begin by thoroughly sterilising your chosen jar. ...
  2. Prep your vegetables. ...
  3. Make a brine. ...
  4. Add your veg to the jar. ...
  5. Pour over the brine. ...
  6. Leave to ferment at room temperature. ...
  7. Pop it in the fridge to finish fermentation.
Apr 7, 2022

What is the fastest thing to ferment? ›

Vegetables are possibly the easiest and quickest fermentation: cut the vegetables, place in glass jars and submerge completely in the brine for 1-2 days until fermented (you'll know it's ready once the ferment has developed a ˜tangy' taste). Then, keep the jar in cold storage.

What is the best fermentation starter? ›

  1. Sourdough Starter. This is obviously well-suited to grain dishes and baked goods, but can also be used to culture beans, fruits, and even vegetables. ...
  2. Juice from Fermented Vegetables. ...
  3. Whey from Yogurt or Kefir. ...
  4. Kombucha. ...
  5. Water Kefir.


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