Peel and cut the carrots into rounds or sticks, depending on how you’d like to snack on them. I like rounds because they are bite-sized and perfect for munching on while I’m at the computer or watching TV. Sticks are great for dipping and also to give the kids to take with them as an on-the-run snack – often in the car. The brine ratio should be roughly 3%.
Giving a child, or yourself, a fermented carrot stick to snack on is so many levels up on a regular carrot in flavour, and of course in nutritional value. This is fast slow food ready to grab and eat at any time.
- Your favourite flavour combination (optional – See Note)
- 300 g (10½ oz) carrots (or enough to fill your jar), peeled and chopped
- 2–3 tbsp fine salt
- 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) water (or enough to cover your carrots) (See Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You'll need a 1 L (34 fl oz) jar, plus follower and weight (see Notes).
Fermentation time: 1 week
1. Add your favourite flavour combination to the jar if you wish. Fill the jar with the carrots.
2. Make a brine with the salt and water and pour over the carrots, using as much as you need to cover them completely. Follow and weigh them down (see Notes about Following and weighting) and seal the jar.
3. Keep your jar out of any direct sunlight and at a constant room temperature of 14–21°C (57–70°F). I like to keep mine on the bench to watch and listen to the bubbles. Fermenting time will depend on the vegetable and how warm it is in your kitchen.
4. They are ready to eat when you think they are delicious (about a week). When you’ve decided they are sour enough, pop them into the fridge for safekeeping. They’ll last for months like that.
• These are some of my favourites flavour combinations for brined vegetables, but just recommendations: garlic, chilli and black pepper; dill, mustard seeds and garlic; lemon zest, garlic and chilli; lemongrass, coriander seeds and chilli; mustard seeds, chopped shallot and a sprig of thyme or tarragon; dill and parsley root, fennel seeds and orange zest; turmeric, pepper and chilli; ginger, coriander seed or root and garlic; celery seeds, caraway seeds, juniper berries and garlic; star anise, bay leaf and pepper. Don’t crush your spices – keep them whole to limit mould. If you are planning on only doing a three-day ferment, then this isn’t such a problem – crush them to get to the flavour faster.
• The water you use for your ferments should be filtered or unchlorinated. If your tap water is full of chemicals, then boil it or leave it out in an open container overnight.
• Give your vegetables a quick wash before you ferment them, but not too vigorously, as the skins may carry good bacteria that we need.
• A follower is important because sometimes the vegetables float to the top when you want them to stay under the brine. Find a good system to hold them down, or shove the vegetables in so tightly that a simple grape leaf or folded cabbage leaf becomes a kind of barrier to hold them down. Something that fits nice and snug is good.
• For weight, you can use another smaller jar that fits snugly enough to push the vegetables down and let the brine rise up to cover. With this method, be sure to use a cloth to keep dust and bugs away. If you don’t mind plastic then a zip-lock bag filled with pie weights, marbles or even brine works pretty well too. Using another vegetable chunk cut to the size you need is pretty lovely – carrots are perfect for this.
• I prefer to use an air-lock system, but a flip-top jar – one with rubber rings and a clip – would work too because it releases gases. A normal jar is fine, just let the gas out by opening it quickly every day or so.