I love brussels sprouts. No, I adore them. I could happily eat them every day. Unfortunately, this sentiment is not shared by my family, and so they rarely grace our table (and when they do, I eat most of them anyway).
So after buying several pounds of them from the farmer’s market, there was simply no point in trying to serve them that many times before they go bad. I didn’t want to freeze them–while still willing to munch on cooked frozen sprouts, I will admit they’re just not the same–and I’m too lazy for conventional canning. So I decided to try fermenting them instead.
The few references I’ve seen to fermenting brussels sprouts all had them being fermented raw. Since cabbage turns so easily to sauerkraut and brussels sprouts are closely related to cabbage, it’s certainly a sound principle. However, both cabbage and brussels sprouts (as well as other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale) all contain powerful goitrogens in their raw state which inhibit thyroid function–not good. So they should be eaten raw in small quantities, or not at all. (See this post for additional information on goitrogens in cabbage and a link to my favorite sauerkraut recipe).
Keeping that in mind, and also because munching on raw sprouts just isn’t appealing, I decided to steam the sprouts before fermenting them. They almost ended up not fermenting because I unthinkingly didn’t let the sprouts cool before proceeding, but on the third day I did finally get the culture.
Lacto-Fermented Brussels Sprouts
Yield: 2 pint jars
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, steamed until tender and cooled
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped or whole; dill weed or seeds)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whey (I usually just slop some in instead of measuring)
- 1 1/4 cups water
Fill two pint-sized canning jars half-full with sprouts. Divide dill evenly between the jars; place two garlic cloves in each jar and place remaining brussels sprouts on top.
In a small bowl, mix pepper flakes, sea salt, whey, and water and stir well. Pour into each jar, topping off with additional water if necessary to ensure the contents are covered, and leave a minimum 1″ headspace at the top. Place lids on jars and leave on the counter for 3 days before moving to cold storage. Enjoy a few sprouts here and there as a probiotic snack. Fermented foods are not meant to be consumed in mass quantities, but rather as condiments, and eating too many cruciferous veggies in one sitting can cause gas.
NOTE: I prefer the sealed-canning jar method of fermenting, but it’s often necessary to check the lids regularly. If they start bulging up, loosen the lid’s band just enough to let some of the gases escape, or your jars could end up breaking from the pressure. If your jars are very full, it’s good to do it over the sink in case the juices bubble out.
The pictures didn’t turn out very clearly, so I’m not going to bother–they looked like any other brussels sprouts!