Fermented Pumpkin: a Twist on Preserving Squash

For an unusually flavorful way to add probiotics to your diet, try this easy fermented pumpkin recipe. It’s a tasty way to preserve pumpkin!

Originally contributed by Shannon Stonger in September 2017; this post has been updated.

fermented pumpkin spears in a glass jar from above.

Pumpkins and other winter squash are a wonderful addition to any garden. Not only do they provide ample fruit, but their thick rind makes preserving squash and pumpkin easy. It stores effortlessly for anyone with a root cellar or cool room.

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Fermenting Pumpkin

Fermentation isn’t really necessary for preserving squash and pumpkin – but it sure is fun!

Click here for more fermenting recipes to try.

There’s not much prep work involved in making these fermented pumpkin spears. Just be sure you have a sharp knife to work with.

The extra probiotics and enzymes imparted to this yummy, fragrant snack food can’t be had in pumpkin pies or warming soups.


Pumpkin You can make this recipe using any type of fresh pumpkin or winter squash. 

Cardamom  Cardamom is one of the spices that gives chai its intoxicating fragrance. Just a tiny pinch of these seeds imparts wonderful flavor to this fermented pumpkin and gives the pumpkin just a hint of those familiar fall flavors, even in this tangy ferment.

Salt — Opt for sea salt here, or another natural salt without any additives like iodine or anti-caking agents. Table salt often has anti-caking agents that can interfere with the fermentation.

Municipal tap water contains chlorine, which can inhibit fermentation, so be sure to use filtered water or distilled water instead. A Berkey water filter provides clean water that’s free of toxins. Great for making your drinking water free of chemicals, but perfect for fermentation, too.

peeled raw pumpkin on a cutting board with a knife

Making this Ferment

Try this small-batch fermenting recipe to preserve pumpkin or multiply the recipe to put up a bunch of golden fermented snacks. The key to successfully fermented pumpkin is to reserve a bit of the rind which will impart a bit of beneficial bacteria from the soil into the final ferment.

Remove peel from pumpkin, retaining a small piece. Measure the salt and cardamom into a pint sized jar, then pack the pumpkin spears into the jar. 

Top with water to submerge the pumpkin. Allow jar to sit at room temperature for two to three weeks. 

New to fermenting foods? Be sure to read this compilation of frequently asked questions before you get started!


fermented pumpkin spears in a canning jar.

More Recipes for Fermentation: 

If you loved this recipe (and the idea of adding more probiotics to your diet!) there’s so much more exploring to do! 

These spicy fermented snap peas are a delicious addition to a salad, chop them in small bits and add to your deviled eggs, or serve them alongside a cold beer.

Try these fermented carrots with garam masala seasoning for something different. 

Turn the heat up even more with this banana pepper hot sauce

Try fermenting cauliflower to serve with your favorite sandwich.

★ Did you try this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

fermented pumpkin spears in a glass jar from above.

Lacto-Fermented Pumpkin with Cardamom

These pumpkin spears are an unusual twist on fermentation, resulting in a firm pickle with a rootsy flavor. It's an easy way to preserve pumpkin.
4.71 from 27 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 pint
Author: Shannon Stonger


  • Enough sliced pumpkin to fill a pint jar
  • A sliver of pumpkin rind
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 8 cardamom seeds
  • Water as needed


  • Peel and clean out a small pumpkin, reserving a slice of the rind to lend bacteria to the fermentation process.
    Enough sliced pumpkin to fill a pint jar
  • Add salt, pumpkin rind sliver, and cardamom seeds to a pint-sized jar.
    A sliver of pumpkin rind, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 8 cardamom seeds
  • Slice the pumpkin into small sticks just tall enough to fit into the jar, leaving about 1" of head space. Pack tightly into the jar, much like making cucumber pickles.
  • Pour water over the pumpkin, salt, and cardamom until the pumpkin is entirely submerged. Place a lid on the jar so that it is airtight and leave to ferment at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. Check the jars daily, opening the jars to release pent up carbon dioxide each time pressure has built up.
    Water as needed
  • After 2-3 weeks taste the pumpkin. If it is sufficiently tangy, you can eat it right away or move it to cold storage.


  • Check the pumpkin spears often to make sure that they remain submerged under the liquid.


Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 4655mg | Potassium: 574mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 9875IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!

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About the author: Shannon Stonger is the founder of the blog Nourishing Days, where she shares her family’s journey towards sustainability. She is the author of The Doable Off-Grid Homestead, Traditionally Fermented Foods, and the sourdough baking book 100% Rye. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and lives with her husband, five children, and various farm animals on their five-acre homestead in Texas.

19 comments… add one
  • Gail Jan 17, 2021 @ 14:45

    I tried this and my pumpkin turned whitish colour. Can you trll me what would cause this please? Im a bit afraid to taste it.

    Thank u,

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 25, 2021 @ 11:54

      It’s normal for ferments to get a whitish yeast on them. How does it smell? Smell is a great indicator. If it smells tangy, that’s right. If it smell yucky, toss it. If it smells okay, take a tiny bite. You’ll know if it’s not good!

  • Casper Jan 9, 2021 @ 1:39

    I’ve stored my regular pumpkin puree jars in too warm conditions, i think they fermented… There is no mold and they smell good just sour/alco taste. Can i still use them?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:26

      I’m not sure, at all. Sorry!

  • Sara Dec 21, 2020 @ 3:56

    I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I don’t think I saw any bubbling, and after a week only (so less than half way done) there was mold on top. I’m new, so maybe mold is expected? But I dumped everything out because I don’t want to feed my family something and get them sick. Thoughts? Should it mold? Should it bubble within a week?

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 1, 2021 @ 15:53

      Mold isn’t right, but ferments often DO have a floating yeast on top of the surface. Bubbling can take longer if it’s chilly in the house. If it smells “off” it’s a good bet to get rid of it. Be very mindful that everything is very clean.

  • Liz Nov 6, 2018 @ 3:31

    Also, since I wash my produce and will definitely be cleaning the outside of the pumpkin, how will I know there is enough bacteria for fermentation?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 29, 2018 @ 12:07

      There should be residual bacteria, unless you plan to soak it in bleach.

  • Liz Nov 6, 2018 @ 3:26

    Is there another spice that I can uses instead of cardamom? Used to like it, now I don’t, sigh.

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 29, 2018 @ 12:06

      I’ve done it *without the cardamom, but you could try whole cloves or cinnamon sticks.

      • Liz Hallengren Oct 18, 2019 @ 3:32

        I did it without cardamom last year, was delish. May try cloves this year as it is pumpkin time again. Thanks.

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 17:14

    So easy to make!

  • Carol L Oct 22, 2017 @ 15:51

    Raw pumpkin or cooked?
    The pumpkin is washed, yes? So how is there beneficial dirt remaining?
    Do you crush the cardamom or leave it whole?
    Thanks for this, I’d love to try it!

    • Liz Nov 6, 2018 @ 3:32

      This is my question as well. Are these questions just rising into the universe and not coming back answered?

      • Kris Bordessa Nov 29, 2018 @ 12:06

        Good heavens. I think they DID just rise into the universe and disappear! I just ran across these during an update, but never got a notification about the comments. So sorry!

        Raw pumpkin, washed but the skin will retain some of the bacteria, and either way with the cardamom. You’ll get a stronger flavor if you crush it.

  • Donna Davey Oct 5, 2017 @ 5:10

    Should you use an air lock system on jar for the two weeks?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017 @ 8:20

      The airlock allows gas to escape as long as the product is fermenting/bubbling. Once it’s “done” you can cap the jar and refrigerate.

  • Norma Sep 20, 2017 @ 16:33

    Can I use Powder Cardamom or does it have to be seeds?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017 @ 8:23

      That should work, though might make the product a bit cloudy.

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