In this article for the homesteader, I’m going to be discussing how to ferment beets. Beets are not usually the first vegetable that comes to find for the new fermenter, with sauerkraut and kimchi often top of the list. But beetroot has all sorts of incredibly healthy nutrients, and they are easy to ferment.
Raw fermented beets are among the healthiest vegetables available today since the bacteria formed during the fermentation process eliminates most of the sugar found in the vegetables without damaging other healthy ingredients. Fermented beets are full of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics that promote your gut health through the enhancement of physical, emotional and mental stability.
Beet fermentation gives you all the health benefits of raw beets but in a more bio-available way including the beneficial enzymes and bacteria derived from the lacto-fermentation process. Beets can lower your blood pressure by four to five points in just a short time. This is due to the presence of natural nitrates found in beets which the body converts to Nitric Oxide which in turn dilates blood vessels lowering your blood pressure and improving the flow of blood in the body.
Nitrates found in beets have the similar medicinal value to prescription nitrates. In fact, nitrates have been found to treat conditions such as congestive heart failure and angina. Fermented beets could help boost your stamina during exercise by almost 16 percent due to their nitric oxide boosting components.
Another helpful substance found in fermented shredded beets is betaine that helps to lower inflammation and also protects against stress from the environment that may cause heart disease. Phytonutrients found in fermented beets have strong anti-cancer properties that have also been found to reduce organ tumor formations.
How To Ferment Beets – Equipment Requirements
Choosing the right beet fermentation equipment determines the success of the fermentation process. While this process may not require specialized equipment, some knowledge on the right equipment is necessary in order to make fermenting much easier. From a proper fermentation jar to the right chopping knife, you will want to choose an equipment that perfectly fits your needs.Whether you are chopping, slicing or grating your vegetables, finding a good quality food processor or knife is an integral part of the process.
Glass jars are recommended for this fermentation process since they do not scratch easily nor do they contain harmful chemicals like BPA. Glass jars are also relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. Some glass jars such as the Mortier Pilon’s Fermenting Crock are specially designed to protect your vegetable ferments against unwanted bacteria.
Ceramic fermentation crocks can also be used especially when making large amounts of fermented vegetables. Food grade porcelain containers are generally safe for beet fermenting but avoid porcelain vases or any decorative pottery since these are not of food grade quality.
Plastic containers should also be avoided since they can easily be damaged and they also contain harmful chemicals that may affect your vegetables. Scratches in the plastic containers could also harbor unwanted bacteria. Proper lids and airlocks should be used to keep off oxygen from your beets but at the same time allow gases produced from the fermentation process escape.
The best option would be a jar with an airlock lid. The lid should be tightly sealed to reduce exposure to oxygen thus avoiding the chances of yeast or mold from forming on the surface.
A Note On Fermentation Weights
It is important to keep your beets submerged under brine during the fermentation process to further reduce the chances of exposure to oxygen. To keep them submerged, you can use any weight or object that will not cause contamination to the fermenting beets. Plastic bags and glass jars filled with water can be used to keep your beets submerged during the fermentation process.
How To Ferment Your Beets – The Process
Beet fermentation can be a tricky process especially to those new to fermenting vegetables. Beets have a high sugar content like fruits thus your fermented beets could easily convert to alcohol if you don’t keep an eye on the process. This problem can be solved through lacto-fermenting your beets in relatively small quantities with other vegetables such as cabbages and turnips. This combination offers much-needed pro-biotics and helpful enzymes.
Lacto-fermentation is a food preservation method that will enhance the nutrient contents of your fermented beets through the action of helpful bacteria that makes these nutrients and minerals readily available for use by your body. These bacteria also produce enzymes and vitamins that are helpful for digestion. Beets can be mixed with other vegetables, spices, and herbs during fermentation to create a great mix of cultured foods.
There are various ways you can prepare your vegetables for fermentation such as shredding, chopping, grating or leaving them whole. This is all a personal choice although some ferment well when grated or shredded. A decision on whether to use salt in the fermentation process will depend on personal preference or special dietary needs. Water should be used to prepare the brine and should be free from any form of contamination. If you are new to fermenting and wondering how does fermentation work, check out my other articles on fermentation.
– 1 1/4 washed, sliced and quartered beets
– 2 Tablespoons of salt (Himalayan mountain salt or Kosher salt works well)
– 2 cups of washed, sliced and quartered turnips
– Filtered water (as much as is required to cover)
- Prepare your beets and turnips and add them to a quart jar making sure that you alternate layers so that the white and red are distributed evenly leaving at least 1 or 1/2 inches of head-space.
- Combine 2 cups of water with salt and pour the solution over your vegetables leaving at least 1 to 2 inches of head-space or enough to cover the vegetables then weigh down as required.
- After this cover your quart jar with an airlock and a tight lid. In case you are not using an airlock for the fermentation process always be sure to ‘burp’ the jars often in order to release any pent-up gases such as carbon dioxide.
Your beets should be allowed to ferment for 3 to 12 days at a cool room temperature depending on your preference although a longer fermentation time is better especially when you are using tough root ingredients.
After the fermentation process is complete transfer your fermented beets to a cold storage to slow or stop the fermentation process.
Like with any other culturing process, each fermentation is different from the other. In case your beets grow yeast or mold on top, it should be skimmed off the surface of the brine to avoid causing a bad odor. Once removed, and providing the mold was only on the surface, the fermented beets can still be eaten. To avoid yeast and molds, ensure that there is enough salt in the brine and there is no overexposure to oxygen. Also, control the fermentation temperature since beets normally ferment well in cooler temperatures.
Recap – Why Fermenting Beets Is So Good For You
Lacto-fermented vegetables have the great benefits of both cooked and raw vegetables. During the fermentation process, tough cellular walls of your beets are broken down making it much easier for your body to absorb them. Another advantage is that vitamin and enzyme levels drastically increase by 2 or 3 times during the fermentation process. Lacto-fermented beets also have high levels of beneficial probiotics that are good for the body.
Fermenting vegetables is becoming more and more popular. People are starting to relearn the age-old wisdom that fermented food and drink is important for good health and longevity. Beets are a wonderfully tasty addition to any diet.
Do you ferment? If you have any great tips or experiences, or cool recipes or advice on how to ferment beets, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Recommended Fermenting Accessories
Here are a few cool things that you might want to consider if you decide to start fermenting. I love my cabbage pounder and also have a shredder similar to the one below. I've used a knife for a long time, but the shredder speeds the process.
Himalayan salt is the best in my view, check out my article on the best type of salt for fermenting if you'd like to learn more.