This page is a work in progress, as this is a large subject and I feel that some info is better than no info…

Succinctly, pickling is a process of adding shelf life to food, usually fruits or vegetables.

When folks talk about pickling they are usually speaking of one of three distinct processes.

  • Natural fermentation or Lactic acid fermentation. Vegetables are usually packed in saltwater brine to create an environment where bacteria that would ruin the veg are kept at bay. This is still a good environment for the bacteria Lactobacillus which will do the work of predigesting whatever is being fermented and creating lactic acid to preserve the food further.
  • Quick pickle – veg has an acid (usually vinegar) added to prevent any decompositional bacteria and yeast from being viable. Think “refrigerator pickle” but this is also the method of most canned pickles.
  • A combination of the two where a little acid is added before fermentation gets started

We love a basic ferment with beets. Many recipes will put red or purple cabbage with beets, but I can assure you any cabbage used in a beet ferment will end up the same color. Here’s a good guide for a beet, garlic, and ginger ferment. Remember to taste your ferment along the way, the time necessary will vary widely based on the air temperature where you are performing the fermentation.

Check out Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Sandor Katz on NPR. Sandor Katz is a local author and fermentation guru his website is