With just a few steps and a bit of patience you can make your own healthy lacto-fermented carrots at home. Lacto-fermentation is an easy way to preserve food with just a few ingredients.
There are many ways to preserve food at home: canning, drying or dehydrating, freezing and fermentation. Fermentation is a super easy method of food preservation that doesn't require any special equipment.
I live in Ontario (Canada) where we get an abundance of locally grown fresh fruit and veggies for just a few months of the year. To make the most of the local produce I will ferment some produce to eat later in the year using the method of lacto-fermentation.
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To make lacto-fermented carrots you need just a few ingredients: fresh carrots, salt and water. You can add flavouring like fresh garlic, hot peppers or red pepper flakes, or spices.
See recipe card for quantities.
Choosing the ingredients
Which carrots should you use?
For this batch of fermented carrots I used a variety of heirloom carrots: orange, yellow and purple. The purple carrots really take over and turn the entire batch a lovely shade of purple. If you prefer you can use one colour or omit the purple altogether to preserve the original colour of the yellow and orange carrots.
You can decide if you want just carrots or if you would like to flavour the batch with garlic or other spices such as pickling spices, cumin, red pepper flakes, or coriander seeds.
What kind of salt should you use?
The process of lacto-fermentation can be done with a salt brine, as shown in the recipe card, or whey. I use a salt brine because salt is an ingredient that I always have at home. You want to use a salt that just pure salt, not iodized and without anti-caking ingredients added as these can inhibit the fermentation process.
Everything you add into the jar can affect the fermentation process, and this includes water. Try to use water that is free from contaminants. If you are unsure about the quality of your water source you can filter the water or boil it and then let it cool. I use local tap water for my veggie ferments.
Benefits of Fermented Veggies
- Reduces food waste - Food preservation helps to reduce food waste. If you buy produce in bulk or buy more than you can consume before it goes bad, lacto-fermentation can preserve the food to make it last longer.
- Budget-friendly - Purchasing produce locally and when it is in season can often be less expensive than purchasing out of season. Sometimes buying in bulk can be more economical.
- Healthy - Fermentation adds beneficial bacteria to your veggies which can be good for gut health.
- Use all of the ferment - The salty brine from a batch of fermented veggies can be saved to create a new batch of lacto-fermented vegetables or can be used in small quantities in salad dressings or viniagrettes.
There are specific lacto-fermenation kits that include fermentation weights or air-locks and silicone lids that allow for the built up pressure in the jar to be released without introducing oxygen. Most companies that sell canning jars also sell fermentation equipment.
You don't need these specialized pieces of equipment, though they do make the process easier. See the notes in the recipe card for tips.
Lact-fermented veggies are preserved and can be stored in the fridge for months.
What is lacto-fermentation?
- The process of lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning it takes place in the absence of oxygen. This is why you want to make sure the carrots are submerged in water. The lack of oxygen makes it an inhospitable environment for pathogenic bacteria.
- The salt in the brine the bad, pathogenic bacteria from growing. This is why we need a specific level of salt in the brine.
- The salt in the brine draws out the natural juices from the carrots. This helps explain why my batch turned purple! The juices from the purple carrots in brine coloured the lighter coloured carrots.
- This process uses the normal bacteria present in the environment. Your batch may be subtly different than someone else's based on the environmental bacteria.
When removing carrots from the jar be sure to use a clean utensil to make sure you don't introduce any other bacteria into the ferment. This means no fingers in the jar!
Lactofermented Carrots (food preservation)
- 1 canning jar with lid
- 1 fermentation weight optional
- silicone fermentation lid optional, if using make sure it fits the canning jar you are using
- Cutting Board
- Measuring cup
- measuring spoon
- 1 cup carrot coins or spears
- 15 grams sea salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic (optional)
- Remove green tops from the carrots.
- Thoroughly wash the carrots and chop into coins or sticks. If cutting into carrot sticks measure to make sure they fit in the jar with about ¼ inch left at the top. Set aside.
- In a measuring cup add water and salt to create a brine. Stir to dissolve the salt.
- Add carrots and garlic (if using) to the canning jar.
- Pour the brine into the jar to cover the carrots. You may have some brine left over that can be discarded.
- Add the fermentation weight into the jar.
- Remove the centre portion of the lid and replace with the silicone fermentation lid. Screw on the outer ring of the canning jar lid.
- Set the jar on the counter or in a cupboard to ferment for 3 - 5 days. The length of fermentation varies depending on your taste and the temperature of the room. See notes for more information.
- The carrots need to be completely submerged under the brine.
- The fermentation weight will ensure the carrots are submerged and does not allow air into the process.
- Add your favourite spices to create a different flavour. Cumin, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes are good options.
- The duration of time that you ferment your carrots is a personal preference. The longer they ferment the more pronounced the fermented flavour.
- The temperature of the room will affect the speed of fermentation. The warmer it is the quicker it will ferment.
- If you don't have a fermentation weight you can use:
- a cabbage leaf on top of the carrots to ensure they are submerged
- If you don't have a silicone fermentation lid you can use the canning jar lid. As the pressure builds up in the jar the lid will become firm to the touch and may need to be burped. To burp the jar loosen the ring of the jar to relieve the pressure. You may notice some fizzing or bubbling of the brine. This is a normal part of the fermentation process.