Fermented Brussels Sprouts? Yep, I'm trying my hand at fermenting anything I can this winter! I've been making quick pickled onions, fermented garlic honey, kombucha, and other ferments, and I'm hooked.
These mini-cabbages haven't always been one of my favorite vegetables. I know they are good for me, but they don't look all that tasty, in my opinion. So how do I eat them? By making them into a sauerkraut side dish to enjoy!
There is a good reason why they are often referred to as "stinky" or "smelly" sprouts. This is because the compounds that cause the smell are the same compounds that cause the health benefits.
Brussels sprouts contain a compound called glucosinolate, which, when broken down in our digestive tract, creates compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs) that are supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties and help boost the immune system.
Brussels sprouts can be eaten raw, but cooking them will break down some nutrients. A better option is to lacto-ferment them. This will further increase their nutritional value and make them more digestible.
What is Lacto-fermentation?
Lacto-fermenting is an ancient method of food preservation that involves preserving the food by submerging it in a brine, which creates an acidic environment that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. The fermentation process produces lactic acid, which preserves the food and adds a wealth of probiotic goodness to your body.
These delicious sprouts are packed with enzymes and probiotics and are super easy to make. All you need is some fresh Brussels sprouts, salt, and water. The result is delicious and nutritious brussels sprouts that will last for months if stored in the fridge.
Why ferment your Brussels sprouts?
If you've ever had problems with the texture of fermented foods, then this recipe is for you. I really like how homemade lacto-fermented Brussels sprouts taste. They are much milder in flavor than cabbage, and the fermentation process brings out a lot of the natural sweetness in them. Best of all, they are very easy to make!
It's as simple as putting your ingredients into a jar with a screw top and letting them sit on your countertop. They will be ready to eat in just a few days.
With a little bit of salt, water, and time, the lactobacillus bacteria (that lives on all plants) will increase and multiply in the jar until it has created enough lactic acid to preserve your vegetables. When that happens, they're done!
Before we jump in, I want to talk about equipment. The equipment you use for lacto-fermentation is crucial because it determines the health of your finished product and the flavor. To get started, you will need:
Mason jar or glass container
These are my favorite mason jars because they have a wide mouth and are great for making brine and pouring it into your fermentation vessel.
The airlock is a small chamber attached to the mason jar lid that allows carbon dioxide to escape and prevents oxygen from getting into the fermentation process. This step is optional, but we highly recommend using an airlock if you have never fermented it before. An airlock makes the process much more fail-proof.
A quick and simple way to prepare Brussels sprouts is to ferment them. The process is easy and adds a ton of flavor.
Feel free to use tap water or filtered water.
I prefer using fresh garlic in this recipe, but if you don't have any available or save time by not peeling the cloves yourself, you can use pre-minced garlic. However, if you use pre-minced garlic, ensure it's stored in an airtight container in your fridge, so it doesn't oxidize and turn brown.
I recommend using pickling or kosher salt because it has a better texture than table salt and won't melt into the Brussels sprouts during fermentation like table salt (which can make them mushy).
Buy Brussels sprouts that are firm and unbruised. Avoid those with any discoloration or soft spots. To store, wrap them in a damp cloth and place them in a plastic bag in the fridge for 10 days.
This recipe is less precise and more a guide to help you make fermented brussels sprouts safely and confidently at home. Adjust the seasoning, amount of salt, and length of fermentation to suit your tastes.
Remove the outer leaves from brussels sprouts, quarter them, then toss them in a large bowl with salt. Place your hands over the bowl and massage it for about 3 to 5 minutes: you want to see some liquid released from the Brussels sprouts.
Transfer the brussels sprouts to a quart-sized (or larger) jar. If there is any liquid in the bowl, pour that over. Next, add enough liquid to cover the Brussels sprouts and keep them submerged under the water; if you don't have enough, add additional water until they are covered by at least an inch or two of water.
Add a cover and airlock your jar. Set the jar aside on your countertop or somewhere else away from direct sunlight at room temperature for three days to three weeks.
Check on them every few days and taste until you reach your desired flavor level (I like mine best after about five days). When they taste good to you, transfer them to the refrigerator.
Note: use cheesecloth or a kitchen towel and secure tightly with a rubber band or string.
Brussels sprouts are vegetables that people either love or hate. I think this is because they've been boiled to death by so many people, making them unpleasant and bitter to eat.
The best part about fermented Brussels sprouts is that they do not taste fermented! All you taste is the delicious combination of cabbage and garlic.
I like to chop up leftovers (if there are any) and put them on top of salads, use them in wraps or sandwiches, or just enjoy them on their own for a snack throughout the week.
Side dish for a roast chicken or pork dish.
Put some on your morning eggs for breakfast.
While you can use this basic lacto-fermented Brussels sprouts recipe as a guide, adding other ingredients will bring out the flavor:
Citrus: Lemon, lime, or orange juice and zest. The juice will contain citric acid, which will help preserve the veggies while they ferment. The zest adds bright citrus flavors.
Garlic: You can add either raw minced garlic or whole cloves of garlic to the jar. Garlic can be pungent, so start with just a clove or two, and adjust from there.
Dill Fresh dill adds another layer of flavor to fermented vegetables, but you should use it sparingly since it is a powerful herb. Don't add more than 1 tablespoon to any recipe.
Spices can add heat and savory flavors to fermented veggies. Red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, and coriander are good choices for Brussels sprouts and other brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc.).
Because they're so tangy, they positively play off any hearty main course. It'sInstead, it's an excellent side dish!
Fermented vegetables are low in carbs.
This recipe is less precise and more a guide to help you make fermented brussels sprouts safely and confidently at home.
- 1 pound of Brussels sprouts
- Wash and dry sprouts.
- Slice the bottoms off the sprouts and cut them in half or quarters (if they are small).
- Add sea salt to the Brussel sprouts and massage them until they have released some liquid (this will take a while).
- Pack into a jar, leaving at least 2 inches of headspace.
- Add enough of the brine mixture to cover the sprouts, leaving 2 inches of headspace at the top of the jar.
- Place a weight on the Brussel sprouts and cover with a lid (not airtight).
- Let ferment for about three weeks in a cool dark place, then move to cold storage (fridge).
Did you make this Lacto-Fermented sauerkraut?
If you made this recipe, please let me know!