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Fermented Cauliflower: A Pickled Alternative?

Fermented cauliflower and other types of pickled vegetables have long been a staple at dinner tables and picnic tables. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is already super popular, and now, the idea of pickled cauliflower is catching on quickly.

It is an excellent way to offer variety to your taste buds while giving you some of the probiotics' added health benefits. Let's dive into this delicious and nutritious pickled pleasure!

Why Fermented Foods Are Healthy

Fermented foods, such as cauliflower, add good bacteria to the gut.

  • This can help manage sugar cravings, improve digestion, and reduce gas and bloating.
  • It can also help with detoxing and cleansing your gut and improving vitamin and mineral absorption.
  • Probiotic-rich foods like this may help with weight loss. 
  • However, it's not a magic pill. By eating a nutrient-dense diet that includes fermented cauliflower (and regular exercise!), you could lose weight while also getting all the vegetables' nutritional benefits. 

A word of caution: These foods are high in salt. Consult a doctor if you have a condition that requires a low-sodium diet.

  • Fermented foods may help boost the immune system and also help with heart health. Fermented cauliflower contains probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, giving the body a ton of nutrition. 

In order for it to become such a healthy food, cauliflower has to go through a process called Lacto-fermentation.

Lacto-fermentation?

Yes, Lacto-fermentation sounds as though it involves dairy. Vegans, rest assured, no cows are milked during the process! Lacto refers to "lactobacillus bacteria." This form of fermentation uses only salt, water, and vegetables for the pickling process.

The saltwater brine is the perfect environment where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive and thrive. Unlike humans, these bacteria die when they contact air, and there's no air in brine. This is the best environment for fermentation!

This process allows the bacteria to act as a preservative, preventing harmful bacteria from entering the fermentation process. This fermentation form is very safe and has been used for centuries since ancient China developed it more than 2,000 years ago.

Delicious DIY Cauliflower

If you're looking for a pickled vegetables recipe, cauliflower is a great veggie to begin with. Here's a pickled cauliflower recipe for canning that's simple enough for beginners to try at home! 

Frank's Fermented Cauliflower Recipe

Whether you use a fermenting crock or any regular container, this fermented cauliflower recipe is a winner. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (large)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of salt (sea salt)
  • 4 cups of water (filtered). You may have to add more based on the size of the head. A ratio of water to salt is 4 cups of water to 1-3 tablespoons of salt.
  • Extra veggies such as carrots or hot peppers (optional)
  • Seasoning (optional). You can use garlic cloves, dill, peppercorns (black), mustard seeds, hot chili flakes, etc.
  • 1 or 2 Probiotic capsules or 1 or 2 tbsp of sauerkraut juice (optional). This step may quicken the fermentation process.

The tools you will need:

  • A colander
  • Sharp large knife
  • A cutting board
  • Depending on the cauliflower head's size, you could use a fermenting crock, or you would need either 2-quart jars or 3-pint jars. Regular mason jars will work, but be prepared to burp them every couple of days.

Directions:

  • Stir in salt with water and mix to dissolve.
  • Wash cauliflower thoroughly, but be gentle and don't scrub too hard.
  • Break the cauliflower head, making sure you break it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add seasoning or probiotics if you're using them. For a typical quart jar, 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, a few black peppercorns, a small bunch of coriander, and a small amount of dill will work nicely.
  • Pack the cauliflower into the jars (with optional veggies), but leave roughly 1 inch from the top of the jug or jar.
  • Pour the brine over your cauliflower, making sure just to cover the top of the cauliflower. Make sure you leave roughly 1 inch of space from the top of the jar to the top of the cauliflower.
  • Fully submerge the cauliflower (you can use a heavy object to achieve this).
  • Close the lid and then store it in a darkened place for approximately 10 days or longer.
  • Burp the lid every couple of days, or every day if needed.
  • You can leave the jars to ferment for up to 4 weeks.

What Goes in is What Matters

Using the right quality and quantity of ingredients will ensure your recipe turns out tops. Here are some tips to get your ingredients just right:

#1 Filtered Water

Filtered water is the best water to use when you ferment foods, as it doesn't contain chlorine, which may inhibit the fermentation process. When you use this type of water, you will also remove heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and bacteria, making your final product cleaner.

#2 Salt

When pickling your head of cauliflower, the type of salt you use is important. Salt that contains iodine or any anti-caking agents can significantly inhibit the fermentation process. It is best to use natural salt, such as sea salt.

#3 Brine

When pickling (or fermenting) one head of cauliflower, use four cups of brine. This should be enough to fill around 3 pint jars of the cauliflower pieces. The ratio used is 1-3 tablespoons of salt to 4 cups of filtered water.

The Final Take on Fermented Cauliflower

The health benefits of eating fermented foods are numerous, and cauliflower is no exception. Making this tasty treat is safe and straightforward, and the result is flavorful and nourishing. 

With this easy-to-follow recipe, anyone can have cauliflower pickles in no time. If you eat fermented foods regularly, you'll soon begin to enjoy the many benefits, like having a healthy snack to nibble on instead of potato chips!

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