Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Leafy green fermented vegetables - an experiment

I have made sauerkraut from cabbage many times, but today decided to try to ferment some leafy green vegetables. I went out to the greenhouse and brought in a basketful of collard greens and Swiss chard. Here they are soaking in cold water in the sink.

Here is my very large stainless colander for draining the greens.

I walked down to the creek and found 3 rocks that seemed appropriately sized, scrubbed them well in hot, soapy water. They will be used to weight the vegetables down under the brine solution. You can see them in the pan here with two large-mouth Mason jars, two lids and two jar rings. I will cover it all with water and boil it for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, I took the thick ribs out of the leaves, after washing and draining twice, and now am putting them in small quantities into my salad spinner.

Here is the salad spinner with the lid on. Goodness. It looks a little grungy, but I promise that the INSIDE of the spinner is quite clean. It just sits on a shelf and gets dusty.

Next, I sliced the greens into thin strips.

Here they all are, sliced and ready to use.

And here are the other items, sterilized. The jars, the rings, the rocks and the lids. You can also see a few intact leaves I saved to put on top of the vegetables to help keep them under the brine.

I put a teaspoon of caraway seed in the bottom of a jar. I am just trying this to see if it adds a nice flavor.

Ok, so now I'm ready to start putting the greens into the jar. Here is the canning funnel, which will help.

I put in a handful of greens and then pack them down vigorously with this wooden thing. You could use anything you have that would work, even your fist, I suppose.

All the sliced greens are now packed into one jar. I did not know how it would work out, and that is why I boiled two jars. (Actually, after I finished this, I started a jar of cabbage kraut in the other jar, since it was all ready.)

I put the whole leaves on top and added two rocks. One might do it, but there was room for two.

Here I have poured in the brine. (recipe below)

And here it is with the lid on. Isn't that pretty?

If you would like to see more about this sort of thing, go here and watch this lady's series of videos. This is where I got the courage to give it a try:

The Brine

Boil 2 quarts of chlorine-free water and then add 3 Tablespoons of sea, or kosher salt (not table salt which has additives.)

Allow to cool to room temperature.

How to proceed

How to prepare everything is shown above. Now the jar will sit at room temperature for 3 days and then I will keep it in the fridge. Let it sit for 3 weeks in cold storage. Then smell it, taste the brine, and make sure it's ok. If it is pleasingly sour, it can be used then. It might take a little longer.

If the brine tastes BAD, then throw it all out and try again.

Like I said, this is an experiment and I really don't know if it will work out, but I will let you know!


  1. oooh... this sounds yummy! We have more greens than we know what to do with from our CSA. I have been making sauerkraut and other fermented veggies, but I will admit I've never boiled my jars.

  2. I would be very interested to know about the "other" vegetables you have fermented and how you do it.

  3. How interesting. Let us know how it works out. I sure does look pretty.

  4. I like the book _Wild Fermentation_ by Sandor Katz. Lots of good recipes. That is the process I follow, more or less. I've also tried some of the recipes from Nourishing Traditions that call for the addition of whey. Besides sauerkraut, I've fermented carrots, daikon radish, kimchi, a radish and root kimchi (radishes, daikon radish, carrot, and some other stuff I can't remember), fermented ginger, and feremented garlic. Oh, and cucumbers! I have a weird urge to pickle some celery but I can't decide if it would taste good or not. I've also tried making beet kvass, but I just can't bring myself to drink it :) And I've made lacto-fermented mayonnaise, and lacto-fermented ketchup (from the NT book). Oooh, and NT has a recipe for fermented bean paste (I used black beans) that was SUPER yummy!
    But kimchi is my favorite, because I love the spicy combo of the ginger and garlic, and the tanginess of the pickling process.

    How did the greens turn out?

  5. Not long after we get back from our trip, I'll be able to report on the greens!

  6. Hi there,
    Did this work out? If so I would love to know, I usually have more lettuce than cabbage growing and this would be a great way to preserve it :)

    1. Hello, Moira! Welcome. Yes, it did work out and here is where I blogged about it:

  7. Hi there,
    This has given me the courage to try it too. Yesterday I put together a 2 quart jar of swiss chard greens. I'm wondering if you have done this again? Also when I make sauerkraut I leave it ferment at room temperature at least a month. I'm wondering if I could do that with these greens? I guess I will have to do my own experiment.

    1. I have not done it again, actually. I do make ferments, of various kinds, from time to time and always do sauerkraut. It sits on the counter, and I check it, from time to time, to see if it's "done." That seems to vary a lot. Yes, you will have to see what your condition produce! Thank you, prairiepatch. :)


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