I live in Eastern Europe where you can almost always find this funny stem vegetable called kohlrabi. It can be eaten raw or cooked but, honestly, I find the taste a bit bland and boring. It does have a really nice crunch to it, is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, and is very refreshing because of its high water content inside. I was trying to figure out something to do with kohlrabi when it dawned on me: pickled kohlrabi!
I’ve written about the health benefits of lacto-fermented foods before. Not only do lacto-fermented pickles provide you with a dose of healthy bacteria for your gut, but they also are a great source of vitamin K2 – which is very important for bone health.
Lacto-fermentation sounds like it would be difficult to do, or that it might even be dangerous because we are dealing with bacteria. But lacto-fermentation is actually incredibly easy. You basically just follow these steps:
- Put some vegetables in a jar
- Pour salt water over them
- Weigh the veggies down so they stay under the water
- Loose cover the jar (or cover with a napkin, towel, coffee filter…)
- Let the veggies ferment for about 3-7 days
I talk about this in my post about The Simplest Lacto-Fermentation Instructions Ever. Read the post to get more detailed info on fermenting vegetables at home. Here is a recipe for pickled kohlrabi to get you started. Feel free to add flavorful extras to the jar – such as herbs, spices, or other veggies.
Pickled Kohlrabi Recipe
What You Need
- Some kohlrabi (about 2 kohlrabi will fit in a 1-quart jar)
- A jar: I use old jars from store-bought pickles
- Salt: iodine-free salt is best but you can use any table salt too
- A weight to keep the kohlrabi under water in the jar (see note at end of article)
- Something to cover the jars with (a towel, coffee filter, napkin…)
1. Peel the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi has a tough outer skin which you need to peel off.
2. Slice the kohlrabi. I cut mine into very thin slices because I like to put the pickles on sandwiches. But you can also cut them into chunks or wedges.
3. Put the kohlrabi slices in the jar. Leave about 2 inches of head room at the top.
4. Put 1tsp to 1tbsp of salt in the jar. The amount depends on how salty you like your food. Iodine can slow down fermentation, so it is best to use iodine-free salt. I use regular table salt and have no problems.
5. Pour water into the jar. Leave at least 1 inch of “head space” at the top of the jar. Fermentation causes bubbles and the water might overflow! It is best to use filtered water because chemicals in tap water can slow fermentation and affect taste. I use tap water though with no problems.
6. Weigh the kohlrabi down so they stay under the water. This is VERY important. So long as the veggies are under the “brine,” no bad bacteria can get to them.***
7. Lightly cover the jar. The ferments should be able to “breathe” so don’t close them off completely. You can lightly cover them with their lid, put a clean kitchen towel over top of them, or put a napkin secured with a rubber band over the jar.
8. Let the kohlrabi ferment. Put them somewhere warm to ferment. It is good to put a tray under them in case any water spills over. You should see bubbles forming. This is a sign that fermentation is occurring! If you see a white film over the top of the ferments, this is okay. Just skim it off. If you see black or green slime, this is NOT okay. You’ve got to throw the batch away!
9. Wait 2-3 days and test your pickled kohlrabi. Pickling time varies depending on the amount of sugar in the vegetable, the temperature, salt type, chemicals in water, etc. Test the pickles after about 2 or 3 days. If they aren’t sour enough for your taste, let them ferment more. If they are to your liking, then put a lid on them and transfer to a cool place (like your fridge). The coolness will slow fermentation.
10. Enjoy within 6 months. Seriously. Pickled kohlrabi lasts that long or even longer!
For me, the hardest part about pickling was figuring out how to keep the veggies under the salt water brine.
The most common suggestion is to use a cabbage leaf as a “lid” on top of the veggies to keep them under the brine. But then I kept having problems with the cabbage leaf floating up! Another suggestion was to put a smaller-sized jar inside the fermenting jar. But that caused water to overflow as the pickles settled.
The best solution I found was to use a plastic bag filled with marbles. This works wonders! Though my daughter was pissed that I stole all of her marbles…
Once I started making tons of fermented vegetables at once though, I bought these cool little fermenting weights. They are made of plastic, so that kind of sucks, but they only cost me the equivalent of 50 cents in my local plastic-ware store. If you are serious about home fermenting, it might be worth it to buy something nicer – like these glass fermenting weights available on Amazon.