Fermented Carrots are a simple way to add probiotics to your diet
Fermented foods are such an important part of a healthy diet. Although for many years ferments “fell out of fashion” with easier access to commercially prepared and canned food as well as the rising popularity of fast food. Our ancestors fermented food to preserve it. They didn’t yet have the understanding of probiotics and how important they are to our gut & immune health but they knew the food was preserved, and that it tasted amazing.
I started learning about probiotics after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was researching everything I could about how to help my immune system function the way it was supposed to. Probiotics, it turns out, are a huge part fo that. I started by taking a high quality probiotic, and since then I’ve added in lots of foods that naturally contain probiotics as well. We make water kefir, eat yogurt (I want to learn to make this too. I want to give it a go in the Instant Pot), along with different fermented vegetables. We love fermented salsa. Check out this article by the Cleveland Clinic on why you should add more fermented foods to your diet.
What’s cool about fermenting vegetables is that you are not only adding important probiotics to your diet, but you’re also preserving food in a super easy and safe way. All you need to ferment vegetables is salt and water. We generally add some seasonings in there to add flavor and variety to our ferments, but you only HAVE to have salt water.
I like to use these fermentation lids as they let the gas that accumulates during the fermentation process out but you can certainly use a regular lid and release the gas every few days by simply opening the lid. The lids I like have a dial with numbers on the top so you can set the date you started the ferment. I can have such a scatter brain that I appreciate the easy reminder.
Ferments are great for small amounts of produce
Ferments are a great way to use up small harvests from the garden or to take advantage of a great produce sale at the market. We got a good sized bunch of carrots in our Misfits Market box so I decided to get a batch of carrots started today.
My Aunt Betty used to take carrot sticks and marinate them in Italian salad dressing. They were SO good. These fermented carrots remind me of those tasty gems. I think next round I may add some herbs into the brine to make them even closer.
I only needed 3 of the larger carrots from the bunch to make a pint of these fermented carrots. You can easily double the batch if you have more carrots to use. Don’t peel the carrots. Just give them a good scrub with a veggie brush and save all the goodness. When you peel carrots, you lose some of the nutrition and you’re also wasting food! My momma always peeled her carrots, so I did the same for a long time. Now I just scrub them. Doesn’t take any more time and it’s much less wasteful.
Use good salt for the brine
Get good salt for the brine. It’s easiest to use a finely ground salt because it will dissolve in the water easier. Salt prevents the bad bacteria from growing yet allows the good stuff to do its thing. Make sure your salt doesn’t have iodine added as that can mess with the good bacteria’s ability to grow. Using a sea salt like Redmond Real Salt also adds in loads of important minerals. (You can get Redmond’s from Thrive Market)
I packed my carrot sticks in pretty tight and didn’t need a fermentation weight for this batch. You use a fermentation weight to keep whatever you are fermenting submerged under the brine.
Once you get everything set, the carrots take about 7-10 days to ferment. Once you get close to a week, you can start sampling the carrots to see when they’re as fermented as you want. Once they get to the zesty yummy point that you want, move the jar to the fridge and the fermentation will slow down (you may also notice the orange color fading). You can keep them in there for up to a year but I doubt they’ll make it that long. LOL.
I love that fermented carrots stay crunchy enough to serve with dip. It’s a great way to encourage kiddos to enjoy fermented foods. They’re also delicious on their own or added to a salad or a sandwich. It’s best not to cook them if you want to get the most probiotic benefit out of them.
What all can you ferment?
It has taken me longer to type out this post than it did to make my batch of fermented carrots today – so it’s definitely something you an easily fit into your schedule. Adding healthy foods like ferments into our family’s diet doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming! You can ferment all kinds of veggies – cucumbers, green beans, asparagus, beets, radishes…..the sky’s the limit. I just started a batch of fermented jicama yesterday.
We’d love to hear about what ferments you love. Let us know your favorites in the comments.
Fermented Carrots with Garlic
- 2 cups warm water filtered water is preferred
- 1 tablespoon sea salt I like Redmond Real Salt. Use any fine ground sea salt and make sure it’s iodine free)
- 3-4 large carrots cut into sticks
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Other optional add-ins: dill, oregano, basil, jalapeño, onions, peppercorns – even lemon slices! Use your imagination
- Make the brine by stirring the sea salt into the warm water until it dissolves. You will need most of this brine but will have a little bit extra; you can store the remaining brine in the fridge to use for another batch.
- Scrub carrots and cut into sticks. Place garlic in the bottom of a clean pint jar, then pack in carrots as tight as you can, leaving about 1 inch of head-space at the top.
- Pour the brine over the carrots to cover them completely. Put your fermentation weight on top of the carrots/brine if you are using one, and wipe the rim of the jar clean.
- Close up your jar with fermentation lid – or if you don’t have one of those, use a regular canning lid and “burp” the jar every few days (you’re just releasing the gas that builds up as the carrots ferment).
- Set the jar at room temperature for 7-10 days. The longer it sits, the more flavor will develop. You can open and taste along the way until you get the taste you prefer.
- Store in the fridge. The carrots will stay good for up to a year. They may begin to lose their color over time.