Our Family Favourite Ferment: Cauliflower
I realize that I have a proportionately high number of recipes with cauliflower, like Garlicky Cauliflower Medallions and Bibimbap. In those recipes cauliflower is a substitute (flour, rice); in this recipe, cauliflower shines as itself.
My kids aren’t huge fans of fermented food with a strong taste – they turned up their noses at milk kefir (when we drank dairy), weren’t fans of kombucha, haven’t taken to fermented cucumber pickles, and are divided on raw sauerkraut (they do all like it cooked, like in Strapacky). All of them, however, like fermented cauliflower. My toddler twins dig in the jar themselves for white morsels of probiotic goodness. The older girls snack on it. My husband likes it. I like it (of course).
I’m not sure why cauliflower is such a winner. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t get as sour, even when fermented for a long time. Maybe because it stays crunchy without being hard. For the maker, it’s easy to boot – no kneading, grating, pounding, or thinly slicing. Just break or cut up the cauliflower, throw in a jar, and pour over a salt brine.
I like to add other veggies as well – here I put in garlic and carrots. I find my ferments work better when I can add a vegetable from a home garden that is clean but not scrubbed, as they still have the bacteria we want to proliferate. In this case it was little carrots.
The reasons to eat fermented foods are numerous; in a nutshell, they are chock full of probiotics that are responsible for the health of your gut, which in turn is responsible for your overall health, immunity, and even state of mind. They have more strains of probiotics, as opposed to supplements, and are very much alive (the live state of supplements is questionable). Even the vitamin and enzyme content of foods are increased by fermenting. The benefits of fermented foods deserves it’s own post (or you can use google!). Should I write one?
Some fermenting purists will advocate that fermenting should only be done in a water-lock crock or air-lock jar. My own unscientific opinion is that it’s better to make something fermented than waiting to do it ‘properly’. As long as the vegetables are under the brine, you should be fine. For more information on this debate, I liked Food Renegade’s take. I do have a post coming with tips on how to keep vegetables under the brine, as they rise with fermentation.
I don’t like to use whey, however, and not just because we can’t eat dairy. When I did use whey, the results were soggier and prone to white scum. The Liberated Kitchen explains why she doesn’t use whey for vegetable ferments, demonstrating that whey and fermented veggies actually have different kinds of probiotics. Each are good in their own right, but not so much to mix.
I have 3 liter jars that I use – you can use any size of jar, though you may need more than one, or any vessel that will hold vegetables, liquid, and a top. Adjust the amounts I have given as needed. There is some leniency as to the amount of salt you add, I like the taste of 2 tbsp/30ml of salt per liter/quart of water. Feel free to add more if you like a saltier ferment.
Fermented Cauliflower (or any hard vegetable)
1 head cauliflower
carrots, peeled garlic, etc (optional)
3 liters/quarts water
6 tbsp/90ml (unrefined) salt
If your water has chlorine, either boil, filter, or let sit out in an open container for 24 hrs to rid the water of chlorine. If you boil it, let the water cool to room temperature. Mix 2 tbsp of salt per liter/quart of water, stir to dissolve.
Fill the jar(s) with washed but not scrubbed veggies. I break or cut the cauliflower into chunks, carrots into sticks, and leave the garlic cloves whole. Pour over the salt brine. Leave at least a few cm/inch at the top of the jar. To help keep the veggies under the brine, I put a cabbage leaf over it a push down so some brine comes over top. Put on the lid. My jar has a plastic lid that bulges when the gas builds up so that I can see to release some pressure. If you have a hard lid, make sure to open it slightly now and then so that the pressure doesn’t build too high.
Leave out at room temperature for a few days, the veggies will rise up from the bottom. If it is hot, the fermenting process will be faster than in cooler temps. At this point you can start eating the veggies, you can move the jars into the fridge to continue to ripen. Eat as snacks, as a condiment to a main meal, cut up in salad, or any other way you can think of.
How do you like to get in probiotics? What is your favourite ferment?
Shared at Fat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Tasty Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Simple Meals Fridays, Unprocessed Fridays, Savoring Saturdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable
Mar 18, 2014 @ 17:56:12
Love the chubby little hand on the jar.
Mar 18, 2014 @ 22:02:21
I think so too 🙂 I usually take pictures when they are sleeping because they like to get so involved, but this photo was relatively disaster safe (provided the jar didn’t get pushed off the table).
Mar 18, 2014 @ 20:34:51
Interesting read. Thanks
Mar 18, 2014 @ 22:02:36
Glad you enjoyed it!
Mar 19, 2014 @ 12:35:28
I am soooo excited to try this! Love fermented foods and I think your recipe is simple for me to follow. I have had fermentation disasters in the past and this is a chance at redemption! 🙂
Mar 19, 2014 @ 13:08:18
Let me know how it goes! I’m all about simplicity 🙂
Mar 20, 2014 @ 03:58:54
Yaaaay, fermentation! Thanks for indulging me. I’m looking forward to trying it!
Mar 20, 2014 @ 07:52:40
Glad to share, let me know what you think! 🙂
Mar 20, 2014 @ 15:47:32
These look absolutely delicious, I am definitely going to make them! We love our version of kimchi and the kids adore kombucha so I think they won’t have a problem with fermented cauliflower. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.
Mar 20, 2014 @ 17:22:49
Hope you enjoy! I’m going to try to get the kids to learn to like water kefir…here’s hoping. My husband and I like kimchi too, and the toddlers, but the older girls not so much, sigh.
May 29, 2015 @ 08:20:56
I made this awhile back but I just pulled it out of the refrigerator today and they gobbled it all up! Win! Thanks so much!
May 29, 2015 @ 20:40:02
Good to hear! So great to get all that goodness into little stomachs.
Mar 23, 2014 @ 23:29:05
My family loves fermented cauliflower as well, this is reminding me that I should make some. 😉 Thanks for sharing your recipe at Savoring Saturdays. 🙂
Mar 24, 2014 @ 08:09:45
Isn’t it great? So delicious. Thanks for hosting!
Mar 25, 2014 @ 00:15:27
That is interesting recipe Naomi Love those cutie hands. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop.
Mar 25, 2014 @ 07:55:08
Thanks for hosting! Hope you try it and like it. I’m partial to cute hands myself 🙂
Hearth and Soul Blog hop: 3/24/2014: Small Treats Edition - Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Mar 25, 2014 @ 02:29:08
[…] Kingsbakery 3. Simple Ceylon pumpkin pie from Scrumptious Spoonfuls 4. Gujiya from Ma Niche 5. Fermented cauliflower from Almost Bananas 6. Healthy Chocolate ice cream from Lavy’s kitchen 7. Orange salmon from Yesterfood 8.Kheema […]
Simple Meal Friday #78 - Nourishing Simplicity
Mar 28, 2014 @ 02:00:42
[…] 2.Fermented Cauliflower from Almost Bananas […]
Eileen @ Phoenix Helix
Mar 28, 2014 @ 15:26:13
This recipe looks delicious AND it fits the paleo autoimmune protocol (a rare thing). So, thank you! I recently started a weekly Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable through my blog, and I would love it if you linked up this recipe. I’m trying to expand resources for the AIP community, and dairy-free fermented foods are so important to healing. Here’s the link: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2014/03/26/paleo-aip-recipe-roundtable-20/
Mar 28, 2014 @ 15:37:15
Thanks for the invite, I’ll definitely join next week, though not all my recipes fit the AIP. Hope you enjoy!
Apr 05, 2014 @ 20:32:22
I just finished making them. Now, I wait….. 🙂 I used pink Himalayan salt which I hand grind so I think the salt is denser. I have a scale but it doesn’t do ml, but it seems online that grams is extremely closer to ml (1.06), so I used 30 grams of salt for 1 L of water. Hope that was correct. I measured out the spoons of salt just to see and it was about 1.6 tbsp of salt. I’m guessing the coarser grind? Oh, I also didn’t have a cabbage leaf so I used two kale leaves.
Apr 05, 2014 @ 20:42:52
Yay! It should be about 2 tbsp of salt per liter. If you were able to add pre-cultured brine it will be ok, if you weren’t, well, I guess you’ll find out. The kale leaves will work! Let me know how it goes!
Apr 05, 2014 @ 22:56:48
do you think I should add some pre cultured brine right now or is it too late? I have cultured pickle juice or sauerkraut in the fridge.
Apr 06, 2014 @ 06:58:02
It wouldn’t hurt to just pour a tbsp or two over top! And it will speed up the process a little, so you can enjoy it sooner 🙂
Maja Pro x
May 18, 2014 @ 04:55:54
Naomi, so I finally decided to male this two days ago. It’s already so good. Just don’t know how many days it shoul take… How will I recognize it’s done? 3-4 days? 5-6? Also, does the pressure need to build up in the process of fermentation? I think I have the same plastic cover, but it’s a bit loose. Is that ok? After my appendix surgery I need to eat some healthy specials…
May 18, 2014 @ 12:52:24
When did you have appendix surgery??! Rest up well! Telling when it is done is up to taste really. When it is out it works faster, when in the fridge it slows down. The longer it sits the more sour it gets. I find it perfect after about 3-4 days, then you can put it in the fridge. The pressure builds up as a result of fermentation, if the lid is loose it will let itself out, if it’s tight you’ll need to ‘burp’ it once in a while. As long as the cauliflower is well covered in brine it’s ok if the lid is a little loose.
Maja Pro x
May 22, 2014 @ 12:04:41
Thank you, I think I am becoming addicted to this stuff. I eat it as a snack all day long.
I had an unexpected surgery before Easter. I am ok, but still experiencing some stomach issues…
May 22, 2014 @ 12:44:31
I think sometimes when we need probiotics we crave it once we start to eat it. My sister was here and practically devoured 3 litres of kimchi herself. And I ate all the fermented apple.
Take care of yourself!!
May 22, 2014 @ 12:44:49
P.S. I’m super happy that you like it 🙂
Aug 07, 2014 @ 07:33:11
I’ve just started fermenting my own food so I can get my probiotics this way instead of through pills. I haven’t used the added salt brine before, but I’ve only worked with cabbage. Do you need it for cauliflower since it doesn’t give off any liquid?
Aug 07, 2014 @ 09:54:05
Yes, cabbage lets go of it’s own juice but cauliflower doesn’t – at least, not in chunk form. Maybe if it was riced and worked with it would.
Debra @ Worth Cooking
Aug 12, 2014 @ 22:53:46
Mmmmm! Cauliflower is something I have never tried fermenting, but now I really want to. I am to go get a bunch of different color cauliflowers and try it like that (they are all the same price at my local store). Wish I had seen this BEFORE I went grocery shopping today.
Aug 12, 2014 @ 23:50:30
oooh, that would be so pretty! I wonder if the colour would leach and dye the white? Do it and let me know! (Don’t know the last time I saw a purple cauliflower).
Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe - Homemade Probiotics
Oct 31, 2014 @ 21:27:58
[…] you are just getting started with fermenting, another good vegetable to try is cauliflower, it’s our family’s favorite ferment. If you’re worried about the sour taste of fermented veggies, try my fermented spiced apple […]
Nov 01, 2014 @ 00:50:54
I started this yesterday. I love how those florets look in a jar, reminds me of an ancient anatomy museum in St Petersburg 🙂 I am worried I didnt put enough salt – I did 2 T per litre, but its a fine unrefined sea salt which is only about 77% sodium chloride. The water doesn’t taste salty enough (compared to how I ferment cucumbers and radishes). I guess I’ll just wait and see and will let you know!
Nov 01, 2014 @ 13:09:37
Cucumbers need a higher percentage of salt, at least 3.5%, as they are more prone to spoiling. Hope it turns out. I’ll update with weights too.
one of God's
Nov 02, 2014 @ 03:29:20
The fermented cauliflower I think I’ll try. I would like to win the book on preserving wild foods. Thanks so much.
One Young Lady’s Real-Food Diary II - Next Breakfast
Feb 09, 2015 @ 14:27:39
[…] I added some beet kvass for the colour at the beginning of the fermentation. I was inspired by this recipe from AlmostBananas to ferment cauliflower and it was a big […]
Aug 08, 2015 @ 07:32:47
Thanks for the post Naomi. Do you think Kombucha (well actually Jun – with honey and green tea) would work instead of the kefir. I’m all Jun these days.
Aug 10, 2015 @ 11:04:11
Ooh, I would love to try Jun! It would probably work, although to be honest I’d be inclined now to not use anything other than salt and water.
Aug 20, 2015 @ 13:18:30
Hi Naomi, I really want to try this–I didn’t know you could ferment cauliflower (or apples or onions!). I do not have air conditioning in my house and temps are between 78 F overnight and 92 F daytime. Is that too hot to ferment veggies? I threw out two gallons of kombucha last week–it smelled a tad rotten–I guessed because it’s too hot to ferment right now. I’m still a newbie at this. Thanks for your help.
Aug 20, 2015 @ 22:46:36
Yikes, is it that hot inside? I feel uncomfortable just thinking about it!
It’s not too hot to ferment veggies but it will ferment faster and become sour faster. I would try and find the coolest spot in the house (on the floor in a closet that gets no sun? basement? Dig a hole on the shady side of the house?) but it should still work. It is probably too hot to ferment fruit though, I think they would turn alcoholic pretty quick.
Good luck and happy fermenting!
20 Paleo Fermented Condiments - Paleo Recipes, Gluten-free Recipes and Grain-free Recipes
Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:10:35
[…] 13.] Our Family Favourite Ferment: Cauliflower […]
Apr 04, 2016 @ 02:16:01
I have high blood pressure…..quite high. Can I consume fermented vegetables that are fermented with salt? Can I use milk kefir whey instead of water kefir? Love your site!
Apr 04, 2016 @ 10:38:39
I’m sorry, I do not know much about high blood pressure and don’t feel qualified to give health advice.
Thanks for asking about the whey or water kefir question – it made me look at the recipe I wrote again and I took that out. If you do make it, just use salt, so that the bacteria on the cauliflower proliferate. It’s important for fermented veggies to go through each step of fermentation and not to kick-start it with another (possibly competing) culture.
Glad you like the site! If you are worried about salt, try the fermented apple chutney recipe. It does have some starter included, but that is so there is less salt so that the ferment stays sweet rather than getting salty. It’s a treat ferment 🙂 https://www.almostbananas.net/fermented-spiced-apple-chutney/
Nov 02, 2016 @ 20:41:43
I’m really interested in this recipe and want to try it. I was wondering, though, it seems like there’s A LOT of brine going on there, and I’d feel bad throwing it away after I finish eating it. Can I reuse it? Maybe make another (and then another..) batch of fermented cauliflower with it? Or is that a fermenting no-no? I’ve never made a “bringing fermentation” before, just the “put salt and massage” ones, so I don’t know how they work. You mentioned in the comment above how it’s unwise to jumpstart fermentation with another culture, but you may have been talking about whey and kefir bacteria, and not brine from fermented vegetables?
Or maybe is this brine “strong” enough in bacteria to be reused later in your fermented apples recipe, given that it ferments for such a short amount of time?
Nov 02, 2016 @ 23:44:11
The reason you don’t want to use a starter for most ferments is that the ferment needs to go through various stages to properly develop instead of jumping the gun. The apple ferment, and any sweetish ferment, is an exception for the sake of taste.
There are so many uses for brine though! Make a salad dressing with it, use it to culture condiments (eg. cultured ketchup), ‘fermented’ juices, drink it straight or added to a cocktail, I’m even going to try rinsing my hair with it!
Nov 03, 2016 @ 14:55:59
Thank you for your answer.
So let me see if I got that straight: it’s a ‘no’ on reusing it again for another cauliflower batch, but a ‘yes’ for the apple chutney recipe?
Have you tried making the apple chutney with this brine and had success with it? Never made fruit chutney before (can’t wait though). My doubts are just about there being a difference in the number of bacteria after a few days of fermenting, like this recipe, and the full 4 weeks like I leave my sauerkraut, so I was wondering if this brine would be ‘strong’ enough to ferment the apples.
I appreciate your recommendations for using the brine, but I don’t see any of them happening in my near future :). Ok, maybe the salad dressing, but it would take me forever to go through it like that!
Nov 04, 2016 @ 07:14:56
I’d say ‘no’ for vegetables, ‘sometimes yes’ for fruit. I made a cherry ferment once that had too much salt and it was gross. Fruit has much more sugar than vegetables so the ferment works much faster. If you leave the apples too long they start to smell alcoholic.
You can also try adding a few tsp of brine in smoothies, or storing hardboiled eggs in the brine (only in the fridge, eggs don’t ferment so don’t leave it on the counter).
Oct 18, 2017 @ 23:56:21
I’ve been using Kumbacha to ferment everything and had mostly good luck but would be interested in hearing your thoughts on that. Have yet to try using anything else, and never even knew that a salt brine would work!
I used to ferment wine (actually Mead) and used packaged yeasts…always wondered if that would work for veggies and fruits but I’ve never heard a mention of it from anyone…
Oct 20, 2017 @ 11:57:55
Salt prevents the putrefying bacteria from multiplying until the acidity increases and preserves the vegetables. The good bacteria are already on the fruit and veggies. I’ve only used kombucha or other starter for fruit, as so much salt doesn’t make it very tasty.
The yeasts that make alcohol are different than the yeasts and bacteria that develop on vegetables. I prefer to use the ones already native to the plant – you get more variety that way too. I’d love to try to make mead someday, it is much more common here than where I grew up.
Jun 21, 2018 @ 15:14:31
I realize that this is an old post, but I recently harvested some cauliflower from my raised garden and have too much to cook all at once. I am going to ferment two 2 quart jars. I also have some Egyptian walking onions that I am going to include. In one jar I am going to put cauliflower, onion slices, carrots (for color), garlic, 4-6 cloves, a few black pepper corns, and hot chilies. In the other I am putting cauliflower, garlic, onions, hot chilies, cayenne pepper, and curry powder. I use 3 tablespoons of sea salt per quart to make my brine. I use 2 quart, large mouth jars equipped with pipette tops for the ferment. My question for you is – How do you use these in your meals?
Jun 21, 2018 @ 16:35:20
Yum, those sound delicious!
We mostly use these like you would eat pickles. Mostly plain as a snack or side dish, sometimes chopped up into salads and spreads. Any fermented pickle is great with rice or other grain, Japanese style. Enjoy!