Local veggies are in full swing, and I am always looking for ways to pickle (aka lacto-ferment) produce from local farms in the summer. This recipe is based on the traditional Italian relish/condiment of pickled veggies, usually including cauliflower, carrots, onions, and spices. It is traditionally served with antipasto, salads or sandwiches (like the muffaletta or an Italian beef sandwich). I like this tangy, spicy version of giardiniera as a snack or fermented side dish that goes well with just about anything.
I love making fermented foods, full of probiotics and enzymes for improved nutrition, that taste amazing in addition to their healthy properties. This version is fermented in a brine, using liquid whey as a starter for the lacto-fermentation, instead of just a straight salt brine. Both methods boost the vitamin content of the veggies after fermenting, including B vitamins and vitamin K2, due to the action of the bacteria.
If you are on a gut-healing protocol, wanting to improve digestive function, clear your skin, maintain a healthy weight or even suffer from auto-immune diseases, it is a good idea for you to get more fermented foods in your diet. 2-3 tablespoons of fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or pickled veggies is a great start towards getting the great health benefits everyday. This giardiniera recipe will make it easy and tasty for you to get your daily dose of food-based probiotics!!
To obtain the liquid whey, simply strain a good quality, plain whole milk yogurt through a kitchen cloth into a glass bowl overnight. The liquid that drains through is the whey, and the solids left over are just like Greek yogurt and can be eaten plain or as a condiment like sour cream. Do not use powdered whey, like protein powder, as it is very different and not full of live bacteria like the fresh yogurt whey. If you are dairy-free, just omit the whey and add a few more days to your fermenting time.
Lacto-Fermented Giardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower and Carrots)
Makes 2 quarts
1 small head cauliflower (1 to 1 1/2 lbs), cut into florets
2 medium carrots, cut into sticks or coins
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, sliced
1/4 cup yellow onion, thinly-sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Tbs dried basil
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
1/2 Tbs dried dill or 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 Tbs sea salt
4 Tbs liquid whey, drained from yogurt--see above
Chop veggies and place into one 2 quart jar or two 1 quart jars. Add spices, salt and whey.
Fill the jars to the top, until the veggies are covered, with filtered water. It is important that the water is filtered, as chlorinated water can have an ill effect on the fermentation process, as it is anti-microbial.
Seal tightly with a lid and shake well to incorporate the salt. Slightly un-tighten to lid so the seal is not too tight.
Set jars in a dry and room temperature spot in the house where they won't be hit by a lot of direct sunlight.
Let sit 5 to 7 days and taste the cauliflower. You may refrigerate and begin to eat at this point. If you like your fermented veggies a little more tangy and "pickled" tasting, let sit another day or two.
Every 2-3 days, "burp" the jar(s) by opening the lid and taking it off, then putting it right back on. This lets any extra CO2 build up out, so the jars don't burst. The bacterial waste product is CO2, so there can be lots of this in the jar if you don't burp them periodically.
Place in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process for storage. These will keep for months in the fridge, but you'll likely eat them up before that.
If you eat all the veggies out of the brine, you can reuse it with new veggies for one more batch. Then you can sip the brine as a digestive tonic or discard.
Brine & Broth
I am a gut health-focused nutritionist and online health coach based in Southwest Wisconsin. My recipes and philosophies center around traditional, nutrient-dense foods that support robust gut health.