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No waste! Get Your Pickling and Fermenting on for the Winter

Pickling and fermenting could be the answer to your store cupboard prayers, if certain foods become short in the winter months, or a virus such as COVID-19 prevents us from getting our regular stock.

You can make delicious pickles to accompany a cold feast of cheese and meats, with some lovely warm bread. In terms of fermentation, there is a huge health factor that makes fermented food an ideal addition to your diet. With the meteoric rise in popularity, fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir and a multitude of other probiotic additions to improve your gut health, appear on supermarket shelves with abundance. Many people do not realise that sauerkraut, for instance, is one of the ‘in vogue’ foods, with sales increasing at least ten-fold over the past year.

So rather than wasting the glut of vegetables you may have in autumn/winter, make use of them to create some healthy foods! Even small children (such as my grandson) love pickles, particularly the combination of sweet, sour and salty elements — they are not so keen on the bitter! Most children these days also like aromatics and spices, so introduce some to your pickling.

To be fair, the first time anyone tries pickled or fermented vegetables, the reaction is often a shudder, or a grimace. However, the second time and onwards usually produces a miraculous result, and then, they just cannot get enough to wolf down!

Fermentation is more of an acquired taste and can sound quite horrific at the thought of leaving vegetables for a long period of time before eating them, so just don’t tell anyone how they are made until they have finished eating the last morsel on their plates.


Find this  Spicy vegan Beetroot soup recipe here!

The main differences between pickling and fermenting are time, taste and probiotic content.

Pickling must be done using an acid, such as vinegar or acetic acid, in order to preserve the produce. Produce should be left for at least five days before consuming, but once opened, you can store in the fridge for around two months. After that, whilst edible, they lose a certain element of ‘crunch,’ which is part of the joy of eating them!

Fermentation must include a combination of acid and microbes, otherwise it simply does not work. Successful fermentation can take 3-4 weeks — you can store it in a cold cupboard, basement or garage.

You can use fruit in pickling (like a nice apple chutney) but fermented fruit is not recommended, as it can take on a strange taste.

What equipment do I need?

For pickling:

For fermenting:

Best produce to pickle:

You can pickle most fruits and vegetables, such as:

Best produce to ferment:

Fermented drinks

Fermented drinks are a great addition to a plant-based diet, as they introduce live bacteria to your gut and keep it in balance.

My top three suggestions are:

How to store homemade produce

Pickles can be stored in your cupboard until they are opened. Once opened, it is best to refrigerate them.

Fermented vegetables or fruit can simply be covered with a cloth, and kept in a place where the temperature is between 8-12°C.

Do try some home pickling and fermenting. It’s good for your health and at least you know there are no hidden ‘nasties’ sometimes found in shop bought products.

Author picture
Bev Perkins

An experienced chef, recipe developer, food writer and qualified nutritionist, Bev’s career has encompassed over 40 years. Educated in London and Paris, and with an unquenchable thirst for travelling, Bev’s passion for cooking evolved with a deep desire to learn about every cuisine in the globe, so whilst resident in Paris she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu (formerly L’Ecole Culinaire de Paris) and spent two years learning her art. She furthered her experience working in restaurants in all corners of the world from bistros to Michelin-Starred establishments and finally with her own catering company providing food to both corporate and individual clients. An experienced writer and editor, Bev is never happier than with a pen in one hand and cookery book in the other!

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