Fermenting food and vegetables at home is fun and easy! It is the best way to preserve veggies grown in a garden or found at the farmers market and can even be treated as a science project to connect kids with their food. Additionally, fermented foods taste amazing and recent studies reveal they are key components in the diet to achieve a healthy and thriving microbiome. Microbiome is just a fancy word for gut, by the way. We all have one and need to keep it clean and diverse of beneficial bacteria.  

Knowing the meaning of fermentation is necessary to understand how important these types of foods are for our gut health. Fermentation is a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into alcohol or an acid. The result is millions of healthy microorganisms that serve as natural probiotics. Fermented foods are also rich in vitamin C and a great source of digestible fiber.

To ferment your own veggies at home, follow these simple directions:

1. Find a recipe: Broccoli, Cauliflower and Dill is a great one to start with. It calls for two heads of broccoli, one cauliflower, four to six cloves of garlic and a handful of dill weed. 

2. Salt it up: The brine, which is a salt solution made by mixing salt and water, should always be made with natural sea salt. This is what the vegetables sit in. A good rule of thumb is 1 tbsp. of salt per cup of water.

3. Containers are key: Make sure to use a glass jar suited to the amount of vegetables. Glass is always best with an airtight gasket. The vegetables should stay submerged in the brine at all time because everything under the brine stays fine.

4. Pick produce wisely: Organically grown vegetables are always best because they rinse well. Also, make sure the produce is cut up into consistent, bite-size pieces to ensure even fermentation.

5. Coverage is critical: Make sure the container is securely sealed and veggies remain under the brine.  For Broccoli, Cauliflower and Dill, let the jar sit for five to nine days on the counter and about three weeks in the fridge.

The most important thing to keep in mind when fermenting at home is fresh is best and air is not your friend. If you are not growing your own vegetables, check out the local farmers’ markets for season options. The more dirt on your produce the better!  Look for fresh cut ends and firm to the touch. Most cruciferous veggies make sturdy ferments like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, but do not be shy with cucumbers, okra, or squashes.  More brine and more time and you can just about ferment anything.


Suzette Smith is the founder of Garden Goddess Ferments, Phoenix’s only fermented foods company.