Quick pickling or lacto-fermentation: which food preservation method is right for you? – grain

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Jenny underwood

Author’s fermented sauerkraut
Photo by Jenny Underwood

Last month I wrote about some very common and useful food preservation methods. Like everything, each method has its advantages and disadvantages. This article will cover other of my favorite preservation methods: lacto-fermentation and quick pickling.

Both of these methods have been around for ages. Who really knows when they were first used? From what I’ve read, stripping has been around since at least 2400 BCE! Lacto-fermentation has also existed for thousands years. If something is still in use after this long time, it’s probably worth taking a look in our kitchens.


Basically, pickling is about keeping a food in acid, like vinegar – most often in white or apple cider – or salt water. I use vinegar in my pickling. You can marinate a ton of foods, from pickle condiments to cucumber (obviously), pickled eggs, and pickled pork trotters (that probably isn’t for me). Find a good marinade recipe for the foods you want to keep. Prepare your products by cutting them into uniform sizes. Make sure you are using quality products. Wilted, overripe or diseased foods should be avoided.

If your recipe calls for brine, prepare it and let your food soak for the required time. Then drain and add the mixture of hot vinegar, salt and water as directed. Brine food into jars and let stand for the specified time. Then refrigerate or store your creation for long term storage.

I often take peppers (hot or sweet) and cut them into regular slices before putting them in a jar. After packing, I fill the jar with vinegar, put a lid on and put in the refrigerator. These are absolutely delicious in place of store-bought pepper rings or pickled jalapenos. If you want to keep them out of the fridge, you will need to put them in a water bath for 10 minutes. However, they will keep in your fridge for months as they are! You can also make onions like this and also use a refrigerator cucumber pickle recipe.


Lacto-fermentation is a little different from the quick pickling method. To lacto-ferment you will need your veg, some quality salt, a weight, a jar or pot, and something to ward off bugs and pests. I like to use a system called Fermenttools, which is an airlock, weight, and seal all sold together. I tried them on my Blog and I liked them so much I bought another half a dozen! I use them all the time.

In order for the cabbage to make sauerkraut, you need to shred your cabbage (I’m using a food processor) and then mix it with salt. Pack it well in jars or jars. Make sure your liquid is overflowing the cabbage. Place a weight on it. Then place on an airlock or plastic wrap and towel. Check your food daily to make sure it is under the liquid. If it is not completely submerged, push it down or add more brine.

My basic recipe is 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt for a large head of cabbage. If I add liquid, I use the ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of cold water and pour until it is covered.

So many things can be lacto-fermented. Some of my favorites are cabbage, peppers, and cauliflower. I tried the potatoes, but phew! It was like strong alcohol and it was forbidden in my book.

Store and enjoy

Personally, I store my ferments in the fridge, but if you have a cool storage place you can use that instead. It is also a matter of personal taste how long you let them ferment. A good rule of thumb is to check back after three days and see how you like the flavor. If it is too “green”, allow your fermentation to continue. If the acidity level is right, take the weight off and start enjoying.

Both methods are a fantastic way to add delicious fruits and vegetables to your diet, and a great way to preserve your harvest.

Jenny underwood is a home-schooled mother of four who lives on a fifth-generation property in the Missouri Ozarks, where she gardens, forages, hunts and stores food for her family. Connect with Jenny at Our disturbing family.

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Updated October 7, 2021 | Originally posted Oct 4, 2021