Fermentation Workshop

FERMENTATION WORKSHOP          Primrose Hill Community Association 

with Gill Jacobs

      We shall be making Ginger Carrot Sticks and Spicy Sauerkraut together.

The other recipes for ferments below will be shown and described rather than demonstrated.

Equipment you will need for the Workshop:

Apron to protect your clothes

2/3 clean medium Kilner jars or large jam jars, with small ones available

in case they are better for your quantities

Chopping board and a carrot grater

Sharp knives, large and small

Large container or bowl to press the vegetables to release their water.

Plastic bag as a weight when filled with brine, the hard bit of the cabbage, or a clean stone or weight (all we be explained!).

Fermented Ginger Carrot Sticks

  • 1 kilo of organic carrots cut into sticks                                        
  • 1 tablespoon SEA salt (not Malden flakes)

  • knob of ginger grated and or rind from an orange (optional)

(This makes 2 Kilner jars, halve ingredients for one jar.)

Dissolve the salt in water, which is enough to fill the jar, or jars, once the carrots 
are placed inside.

The sticks need to be cut to stand up to just below the top of the jar, leaving enough room for them to be entirely covered by the brine. Because most of the nutrition 
in carrots is just below the skin its not necessary to peel organic carrots, but scrub them instead. Grate some fresh ginger and add to the jars. The best way to peel ginger is to scrape using a tea spoon.

Avoid carrots peeping above the water. If the carrots are exposed to oxygen you could get mould. So have to hand the outer leaf of a white or green organic cabbage and place a piece cut into overlapping slices, over the carrots, in order to keep the carrots down under the brine.

If you find a white film on opening the jar a day or two after fermenting this is most likely to be kahm yeast, and is harmless. Just scrape it off the surface of the liquid and continue fermenting. Rule of thumb, if you have an unpleasant smell discard!

Spicy sauerkraut

  • ½ kg fresh white cabbage (all veg organic if possible)
  • ½ cauliflower
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 onion, red or white
  • ½ turnip grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 hot red deseeded chili (optional or any form of

             hot red pepper, fresh or dried)

         Sea salt (not Maldon flakes)

The vegetable ingredients are flexible, and you can change according to taste as you do more batches. Weigh the total amount of vegetables in order to calculate the salt needed later. Chop or grate the cabbage finely or coarsely, depending on your preference. (If you mix in red cabbage beware that you will end up with pink sauerkraut.)

Cut up the cauliflower into very small pieces, together with the celery. Chop the onion. Chop the chilis, after deseeding, very small. Take care with the chilis not to touch your eyes after chopping. Mix all the vegetables together, and sprinkle in the sea salt. With practice you will not need to measure out the salt but will do it by taste and feel. You will need more salt in hot seasons, and less in cold. Salt pulls the water out of the vegetables, and this brine then allows the vegetables to ferment and sour without mould. Take comfort in the fact that sea salt is entirely different from industrial table salt, and will give you a boost of minerals rather than hypertension.

Now comes the hard work! Place vegetables and salt in a wide mouthed crock or bowl. Tamp down with your fists or whatever is to hand that works to press hard to release the water in the vegetables. This can take up to 10 minutes, so be prepared to work on the floor for extra downward power. In my classes in person at this point all the helpers seem to fade away, claiming they needed a rest after all that chopping!

Transfer to a jar, or leave in the crock if you have one. Press down so that the vegetables are submerged in the water, and cover with a clean weight such as a plastic zip lock bag filled with brine (in case it leaks), or a glass jug or jar filled with water. Some people use a cleaned up stone to do this job, or better still a glass weight. Finally cover with a cloth and put aside. Every now and then press down on the weight to make sure the sauerkraut is covered by brine, as the salt continues to do its job.

Examine the kraut every day or so. If you have some mould on the surface this can be removed without fear of contamination. With time the taste gets stronger. After a week or so taste and when you get the taste you like transfer to the fridge.



Beetroot Kvass

      Beetroot Kvass is meant to be taken first thing in the morning.

I dilute it with warm water. Because it is fermented it lasts a long

time in the fridge. (Eg home-made mayonnaise using whey lasts

for six months when refrigerated.)

Take three large beetroot and peel and chop them into chunks. Pour 2 litres of filtered water into a large jar. Add the beetroot together with 4 teaspoons of sea salt. Leave out for three days. Transfer the strained liquid to the fridge, and top up the beetroot with more water for one more ferment, leaving behind some of the original kvass as a starter culture. Start each day with a 4 oz glass. 

Depending on the season I may leave the beetroot outside the fridge for longer, and sometimes a second ferment is not as concentrated, or the beetroot looks better to throw away rather than ferment it again.


      Fermented turnips

Turnips are a member of the radish family and because of that have an interesting             flavour, which is deliciously mellowed with fermentation This is readily found in        Slovenian markets, sold out of huge buckets and put into plastic bags for taking  home.

The fermentation water is sold separately in bottles for a couple of euros, for added digestive health. So don’t throw away the extra liquid. Drink it regularly, especially after a course of antibiotics!

Turnips reduce mucous in the body, ease lung congestion and relieve sore throats. A good idea to have some to hand?!  They also have a good amount of Vit C.

  • I2 medium turnips, scrubbed and sliced 0.3 cms (1/8th inch) thick
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 3 and a half tablespoons of sea salt
  • 6 cups water


Make a brine by combining the water and sea salt. Set aside.

Put 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in each of two quart jars. Add the sliced turnips, packing until no higher than 1 inch from the top.

Pour the brine over the turnips and red pepper flakes, pushing the turnips down to release any air bubbles. Make sure brine leaves at least 1 inch of head space in jar. Weigh the turnips down so that they stay below the brine by using a glass stone or plastic bag filled with brine.

Place a lid on the jar and secure tightly. Allow to ferment at a cool room temperature (65° to 80°F) for 3 to 10 days, burping the jar to release gases for the first few days.

Move to cold storage.


      Another wonderful version from My New Roots, by Sarah Britton, is to cut 1 kg of

turnips in batons, with one small beetroot, also in batons, both peeled. Use 170 mls apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons of sea salt, 2 tbs of maple syrup, 2 large garlic cloves, and 2 sprigs of dill. Layer the turnips, beetroot and garlic over the dill before adding the liquid. A week fermenting and then up to six weeks in the fridge: he ultimate pick-me-up!


You will have to wait a couple of weeks before you can taste what you have made, as it takes this long for the fermentation process to work. Though the carrot sticks and turnips are ready after seven days or so. Experiment to find out what suits you best when it comes to taste.

You may find the best portion sizes of the ferments are small. Their flavours are quite complex and should be savoured in small batches. Furthermore that is all you need to make a difference to your gut health. Dr Mercola, who runs the largest health site in the world, had 6-8oz of homemade sauerkraut tested for the number of beneficial bacteria present, and found 1/10 of the trillions of bacteria resident in the gut present in that portion size. Having less would still give you more than enough to make a difference.

To prove this point, one member of my class, on trying her sauerkraut once it had fermented at home, lost all her symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, after just three days. However, if you know you have bowel issues, start slow with just one teaspoon and gradually build up to tolerate more.


Sandor Katz  Wild Fermentation     Chelsea Green

Sandor Katz   The Art of Fermentation     Chelsea Green

Holly Davies   Ferment: A Guide to the ancient Art of Fermenting Foods  Murdoch Books

Last Updated on 1st February 2021 by Mick Hudspeth