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Easy Lacto-Fermented Cauliflower

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When cauliflower is in season, consider preserving some using the lacto-fermentation method. This fermented cauliflower recipe preserves the florets as tasty and crunchy little tidbits packed with probiotics.

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

 

fermented cauliflower in two glass jars

This post has been updated. It was originally sponsored by Fermentools.

My first attempt at lacto-fermentation?

It didn’t go so well. First, the whole idea of letting fresh food sit out on the counter until it ferments goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about cooking. But beyond that, I was trying to cobble together a system that left me with a moldy, uh, buggy mess that ended up in the compost.

It’s a simple thing, but it’s essential that the food you’re trying to ferment remain completely submerged under the brine. Mine did not. Thus, the big ole fat fail.

That was two or three years ago.

The little glass weights that hold ingredients under the brine are a key to my success, these days. 

cauliflower on a cutting board

Fermented cauliflower recipe

It took me 25 minutes, start to finish, to assemble three pints of cauliflower. Then, of course, there’s the fermentation time, but you don’t need to do much during that other than check the jars for 

Whether you grow your own cauliflower or pick it up from the produce section, you’ll start by cutting the cauliflower into manageable pieces and giving them a good rinse. 

You can use any kind of hot pepper. You’ll see here that I’ve used a couple of different ones. You can slice them – or not! You can also SKIP the peppers (and garlic) entirely, if you prefer. 

Once your fresh produce is ready, it’s a simple matter of packing the fresh cauliflower, peppers, and garlic into jars and covering it with a salt brine. Really, this fermented cauliflower recipe couldn’t be easier!

Municipal tap water contains chlorine, which can inhibit fermentation, so be sure to use filtered 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.
 
pouring water into fermentation jars
 
Set the cauliflower in an out of the way place to ferment. Active bubbling can cause the brine to overflow, so it’s a good idea to place the jars on a tray to capture liquid. 
 
In a warm room, fermentation will take about 3 to 5 days. In a cooler room it will likely take longer. The best way to test is with a taste! 
 
Pull out a small piece of cauliflower and see if it’s tangy and 
 

fermented cauliflower in two glass jars

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 up the heat with a fermented hot pepper relish or a banana pepper hot sauce

★ Did you make this lacto-fermented cauliflower recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

fermented cauliflower in two glass jars

Lacto-Fermented Cauliflower Recipe

Yield: 15
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Fermenting Time: 5 days
Total Time: 5 days 25 minutes

These crunchy cauliflower bites are excellent for snacking and pack a probiotic punch. Serve this fermented cauliflower on a crudite platter, alongside a sandwich, or straight out of the jar.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash 3 pint-sized jars (or one quart and one pint). Even if they were clean in the cupboard - you want to be sure to avoid unwanted bacteria.
  2. Mix water and salt to make brine. Set aside, stirring occasionally until salt is dissolved.
  3. Place one pepper and one garlic clove in each pint-sized jar. Use them whole or slice them if you like.
  4. Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces and divide between jars.
  5. Pour brine over cauliflower to cover. (If you don’t have quite enough brine, you can add water to top off each jar.)
  6. Place glass weight on top of the cauliflower to assure it’s submerged under the brine. Seal jar with an airlock system or screw a lid on loosely. hand putting a glass weight in a jar of cauliflower
  7. Set in an out of the way place to ferment for 3-5 days. (There’s potential for these to overflow a little, so set fermenting jars in a pan of some sort to catch drips.) 
  8. Test the cauliflower after a few days; if you’re happy with the level of fermentation, screw on a lid and refrigerate. Not quite ready? Leave out on the counter for another day or two. Be sure to use a clean utensil to remove cauliflower — using fingers could contaminate the brine.

Notes

Water: Municipal tap water contains chlorine, which can inhibit fermentation. Use spring or distilled water instead.

Salt: Salt with iodine or anti-caking agents can inhibit fermentation.

Brine: Four cups of brine is enough for approximately three pint jars of cauliflower.

It's critical that the veggies remain completely submerged in the brine. Glass weights are great for this!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 942mgCarbohydrates: 2gSugar: 1g

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Originally published in 2015; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

20 comments… add one
  • Tim Oct 28, 2020, 10:21 am

    This is my first experience, ever, with fermentation. I mixed cauliflower with carrot sticks, two jalapenos, and some diced garlic. I may have added too much brine to the jars, as some of it has seeped out of the airlock (have a catch pan underneath). It has only been 48 hours since I started this batch, but looking forward to some great tasting snacks this weekend! Will let you know if I run into any issues (or have any questions). Thank you Kris!

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 31, 2020, 7:49 am

      A really active ferment can overflow, so you’re on the right track!

  • Isolde Smith Oct 11, 2020, 11:17 pm

    We followed recipe for fermenting cauliflower after 3 days the liquid is going cloudy and bubbling rapidly is this normal?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 12, 2020, 8:42 am

      Yes! The liquid will become somewhat cloudy and the bubbling is an indicator that it’s actively fermenting! Just be sure that the cauliflower remains submerged and you’ll be snacking in no time!

  • Eleanor Aug 12, 2020, 6:54 am

    I’m excited to try this for my first time. How long will this last in the refrigerator once it’s done? Thank you.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 13, 2020, 7:34 am

      Months! 4? 6?

  • Russell Dec 6, 2019, 4:15 pm

    Thanks for posting this recipe.
    I’ve been using Lacto-Fermentation for pickles for years, and this years season is done….as are my pickles!
    I needed ‘something’ to fill the void and wanted to make sure Cauliflower didn’t need anything special. I found your recipe.
    The amount of salt you use is less by about 1/4 but it turned out perfect.
    I added some thin sliced carrots and a bag of pearl onions (sliced in half) just to add a bit of variety to the mix.
    One other change? I didn’t want to cut a hole in my gallon jar lid for a bubbler, so I use a baggie filled with brine, laid on top of the mix while it does it’s thing. It fits in the jar mouth and keeps everything submerged ….but still lets the bubbles pass. Give it a try!
    It’s nice to know I have something to hold me over after everyone gobbles up my pickles.
    Thanks again!

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 9, 2019, 3:37 pm

      You’re so welcome!

    • Charles Mar 4, 2020, 7:10 am

      I assume the baggie is plastic. If you are comfortable with it’s presence in your fermenting process, that’s your choice.

  • linda flater Dec 27, 2018, 11:40 am

    i took broccolli and cauliflower red onion and whole garlic salted heavily and packed in jar,set i aside for few days i didn’t realize i needed water also so when i got back to it i added water, do you think its safe this my first try and it stinks

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 27, 2018, 4:08 pm

      If it has an offensive odor, you probably need to start over. That’s a good indicator that a ferment has gone bad.

    • Maria Dec 27, 2020, 7:20 am

      Great recipe! My 14 month old even loves them! Sometimes it’s the only thing she’ll eat haha

      • Kris Bordessa Dec 27, 2020, 2:11 pm

        When the toddlers love it, you know it’s good! 🙂

  • Pat Oct 4, 2018, 9:39 am

    Can this be processed in a water bath canner? I would like to make a few jars for myself and for gifts.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 17, 2018, 9:37 am

      This is not a canning recipe, no. And heating the fermented cauliflower will kill the good bacteria from fermenting. Look for a recipe that uses vinegar, one that’s specifically meant for canning purposes.

  • Kathy Altergott Jun 15, 2018, 12:43 pm

    I just made pickles using this method and they were ready in two days, I live in AZ and it is warmer here. I am going to try this next since I am pretty sure the pickles won’t last long. They are very good! Someone suggested adding a teaspoon of vinegar to prevent the yeast growth. I did it and it worked do you know if this can be done with the cauliflower?

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 15, 2018, 7:44 pm

      I’ve never added vinegar to a ferment, and the yeast is a byproduct of fermentation. Not sure I’d want to eliminate it.

  • DS May 18, 2018, 11:36 am

    Your cauliflower looks amazing, my fav vegetable.
    One of my jars of fermented vegetables, distilled water, sea salt, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, and carrots has a white layer and ring around the top. I started them 1 month ago. They stay submerged. Any idea what the white ring is?

    • Kris Bordessa May 18, 2018, 12:45 pm

      Ferments can get a thin layer of white yeast on top of them. Scrape it off and give the jar a sniff; if it doesn’t smell objectionable, it’s likely fine. If the top gets pink, green, or black, you’ll want to toss it.

  • Sariya Mar 10, 2018, 8:32 pm

    This sounds like a great experiment! I will try it! Thank you for the idea!

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