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How to Make Easy Fermented Carrots

Learn just how easy it is to make these Lacto Fermented Carrots with just two inexpensive ingredients and a little bit of time! Turn organic carrot sticks and sea salt into an absolute superfood filled with beneficial bacteria, enzymes and probiotics through a simple fermentation process. 

pinterest graphic for fermented carrots

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Fermenting food is probably the easiest food preservation method. Canning, freezing, dehydrating and freeze-drying are all great ways to preserve food for long-term storage, but nothing is quite as simple as something like these easy fermented carrots. The process is so simple – leave fresh carrots and salt water at room temperature for 4-7 days and then move to the refrigerator. Other methods of food preservation usually compromise the health benefits slightly – fermenting food actually makes it HEALTHIER!

High quality probiotic supplements from the health food store are great, but they usually come with a hefty price tag. Once you learn how easy it is to make your own fermented vegetables, you could have an entire mason jar full of nutrients and probiotics that are great for gut health and your immune system – all for the price of a bag of carrots.

jar of fermented carrots

what is lacto-fermentation?

The process of lacto-fermentation breaks down the sugars in fresh fruits or vegetables into lactic acid, which is what gives fermented foods that tangy flavor. The simplest method of lacto-fermentation is to submerge a food that naturally contains lactic acid bacteria (such as fresh vegetables) into a brine of water and salt. (Sourdough, kefir and yogurt are also fermented, but a starter culture is used to ensure safety and consistency of flavor.)

In lacto-fermented carrots, the good bacteria naturally occurring in the raw carrots break down the sugars, forming lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This process pushes the oxygen out, making the food more acidic. This is why there are bubbles always floating to the surface in a jar of fermenting vegetables. This encourages the growth of even more lactic acid bacteria and prevents the growth of bad bacteria.

As long as the fruits or vegetables are kept at room temperature, they will ferment. Placing them into the refrigerator or cold storage and sealing them will slow the fermentation significantly. For this homemade fermented carrots recipe, the carrot sticks are kept at room temperature for about 4-7 days (or longer if you’d like them more tangy) and then moved to a cool place to prevent further fermentation.

benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables

Fermentation has been used to preserve food for thousands of years because it is easy, very inexpensive and effective. By intentionally overgrowing a food with good bacteria, the harmful bacteria is unable to grow. This is because of the addition of salt. A good quality sea salt prevents the growth of bad bacteria that would lead to mold or spoilage. In this environment, gut-friendly lactobacillus bacteria (a beneficial probiotic) and other good bacteria are able to thrive, making the finished product packed with health benefits. The good news is, we can accomplish all of that with such simple ingredients!

two jars of sliced rainbow carrots on a wooden cutting board

One of the biggest benefits to fermenting your own vegetables is that many store-bought fermented foods are pasteurized after fermentation, which kills all live bacteria. It allows for a longer shelf life, but these foods no longer provide the healthy bacteria found in live and active cultures.

In addition to being an easy preservation method, fermented foods are easier to digest, so good for gut health, and taste great! The tangy sour flavor of fermented foods provides a delicious layer of flavor when served with meats or other vegetables.

is fermenting vegetables safe?

We’ve all heard about the dangers of preserving food improperly, so people could easily be intimidated before they even start. But, a message to all of my food preservation beginners out there: this simple method of fresh vegetables + salt water brine is a great place to start. For this reason: It will be very easy to tell if something goes wrong. Either (1) you will have mold growth, and you know that the harmful bacteria took over – don’t eat it. Or (2) it will have an off-putting smell so strong that no one could convince you to put it in your mouth and swallow it. It should smell tangy and sour, not rancid and gross. If it stinks – don’t eat it. 

If it’s your first time, these clues will give you the peace of mind knowing that the food you are fermenting has been done properly and is safe to eat.

everything you’ll need 

ingredients
  • Carrots – 2 pounds of carrots cut into sticks are just the right amount to fill 2 quart size mason jars. Organic carrots are best in order to avoid pesticides and chemicals used in conventional farming.
  • Sea salt – The ratio I like to use is 1 Tablespoons of salt for every 2 pounds of carrots. You can use more if you want it saltier, just don’t use less than 2 tsp of salt as this is what limits the growth of harmful bacteria. Redmond’s Real Salt is my favorite.
  • Water – Using filtered water is important so chemicals like chlorine found in tap water don’t ruin the ferment. We LOVE and recommend a Berkey water filter.
equipment
  • Quart jars – Your carrots will ferment in a couple of quart mason jars. You can ferment in a half gallon jar instead, or half the recipe and ferment in a pint size jar. Wide-mouth jars work the best for packing the carrots.
  • Glass fermentation weights – These simple glass weights are not necessary, but very helpful for holding all of the carrots under the brine.
  • Fermentation lid or pickle pipes – I love these fermentation lids that I got on Amazon. They are inexpensive and are much easier than trying to remember to burp a mason jar lid to release the gasses.
  • Plastic lids – These are helpful for storing the fermented carrots in the refrigerator. The metal lids and rings can rust from the salt water brine. 

how to make fermented carrots

1. The first step is to make the simple salt brine. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the water and salt together until the salt completely dissolves.

2. Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise into sticks. You could also chop them into smaller pieces or shred them. Pack the chopped carrots into two clean quart mason jars, leaving at least an inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Squeeze them in so tight it’s impossible to fit even one more carrot in there. 

It’s easier to get the carrots to line up straight if you start out with the jar on its side rather than loading the carrots in from above.

3. If the brine is hot, let it cool. Pour the salty brine over the top of the carrots. It should be enough so that all of the carrots are fully submerged. Tap the jars gently on the countertop a few times to eliminate any air pockets. 

hand pouring salt water brine over a jar of carrots

4. Place glass fermentation weights over the carrots in each jar. This will keep them fully submerged under the brine during fermentation. (The vegetables shrink during fermentation, so a weight helps keep them under the brine when this happens. You don’t need a fermentation weight – you could wash a rock and use that too.) Cover with a fermentation lid and mason jar ring. This will allow the air bubbles to escape while fermenting, but will keep fruit flies and other contaminants out.

5. Leave the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days. The longer the fermentation time, the more sour the carrots will be. White bubbles or foam on the top is totally normal! That’s a sign of a healthy ferment. The brine will also turn a murky color – also totally normal.

6. Replace the fermentation lid with a plastic wide mouth plastic mason jar lid and store in the fridge or cold storage room.

fermented carrots recipe tips and notes 

-The amount of salt can be adjusted depending on how salty you like it. Do not use less than 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of carrots, but feel free to use more if you like things saltier.

– Iodine tends to inhibit the beneficial bacteria in cultured vegetables. Do not use iodized salt or table salt for fermenting. I recommend a high-quality sea salt for this recipe.

– Play around with different flavors! Mix it up by adding garlic cloves, fresh onions, fresh ginger, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, whole peppercorns etc! Throw in some hot peppers for some spicy fermented carrots.

– Shop the farmers market for organic produce and try fermenting it! This is a great way to preserve the delicious flavor of the most abundant time of year. 

-Fermented carrots are a delicious snack or side dish all on their own. They can also be added to salads or smoothies for extra flavor and nutrition. 

try these other fermented recipes –

print this recipe

fermented carrots

Fermented Carrots

Yield: 2 quarts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 5 days
Total Time: 5 days 15 minutes

Learn just how easy it is to make these Lacto Fermented Carrots with just two inexpensive ingredients and a little bit of time! Turn organic carrot sticks and sea salt into an absolute superfood filled with beneficial bacteria, enzymes and probiotics through a simple fermentation process. 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh carrots
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tbls sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the water and salt together until the salt completely dissolves.
  2. Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise into sticks. You could also chop them into smaller pieces or shred them. Pack the chopped carrots into two clean quart mason jars, leaving at least an inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Squeeze them in so tight it's impossible to fit even one more carrot in there. 
  3. Pour the salty brine over the top of the carrots. It should be enough so that all of the carrots are fully submerged. Tap the jars gently on the countertop a few times to eliminate any air pockets. 
  4. Place glass fermentation weights over the carrots in each jar. This will keep them fully submerged under the brine during fermentation. Cover with a fermentation lid and mason jar ring.
  5. Leave the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days. The longer the fermentation time, the more sour the carrots will be. White bubbles or foam on the top is totally normal! That's a sign of a healthy ferment.
  6. Replace the fermentation lid with a plastic wide mouth plastic mason jar lid and store in the refrigerator.

Notes

-The amount of salt can be adjusted depending on how salty you like it. Do not use less than 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of carrots, but feel free to use more if you like things saltier.

- Iodine tends to inhibit the beneficial bacteria in cultured vegetables. Do not use iodized salt or table salt for fermenting. I recommend a high-quality sea salt for this recipe.

- Play around with different flavors! Mix it up by adding garlic cloves, fresh onions, fresh ginger, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, whole peppercorns etc! Throw in some hot peppers for some spicy fermented carrots.

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pinterest graphic for fermented carrots

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