Fermented Zucchini Spirals
This time of year in South Louisiana means lots and lots of zucchini is on the way... and this time of year lasts for quite a few months. Sometimes I have so much zucchini from my family member farmers and the farmers market that I run out of freezer room for chopped frozen zucchini... honestly by the end of zucchini season I've run out of ideas on ways to cook it anyways.
So this year one of our gallon glass jars will be dedicated to fermenting zucchini spirals... more than once! Sprialized vegetables are all the rage, and we regularly use our spiralizer for sweet potatoes. While spiralizing some squash and zucchini for a salad, I came up with the idea to ferment them. Probiotic sprialized vegetables... it doesn't get much better : )
This recipe is amazing, mainly because it helps us to preserve abundant veggies that otherwise may go bad. The spices we used to flavor these fermented veggies make for a nice change up from the usual. Our favorite ways to our fermented spirals is to add them to cool summer salads and pasta salads! Feel free to use any type of zucchini, or squash, or both for this recipe!
Fermented Zucchini Spirals
- One large zucchini
- Cultured Guru Fermentation Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Red Onion Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
- Fermentation Weights
Brine Method: The brine method we use to make fermented zucchini is to weigh your vegetables and add 3.0% of that weight in salt, then to add a 3.0% salt water solution. Read the science behind fermenting here.We highly recommend just investing in a kitchen scale for about $10 from Target or Amazon. If you're going to master fermentation and select for the best bacteria in your ferments, you'll need one to weigh salt. Weighing is the only way to create an accurate salt concentration. The scale we use in our home kitchen is this one.
- First, make a 3.0% saltwater brine. To do this, put an empty large jar on your kitchen scale, and tare it. Fill the jar with warm filtered water and record the weight of the water (in grams).
- Next multiply the weight of the water by 0.03. The number you get is the amount in grams of salt you need to add to the water.
- Place a small separate bowl on your scale and tare it. Weigh out your Fermentation Salt in grams.
- Add your salt to the water and stir it in until it dissolves. Then let the mixture cool.
- While the salt water cools, spiralize the zucchini to the desired consistency. If you do not have a vegetable spiralizer feel free to just chop your zucchini however you desire.
- Place an empty bowl on your kitchen scale and tare it. Place the spiraled veggies and onion in the bowl and record the weight in grams. Using the same math method, multiply the weight of your vegetables by 0.03. The number you get is the grams of salt you need to add to the chopped veggies.
- Add the salt and spices to the bowl of vegetables and mix thoroughly.
- Once you have mixed in the salt thoroughly, it is time to add the mixture into a jar. We use a pint mason jar for this recipe. Before you add in vegetable pieces, you need to dump any liquid from the bowl into the jar. Then add in all the vegetable pieces, and two bay leaves, leaving room for a fermentation weight. The bay leaves are important because they will help to keep the spirals crunchy.
- Place a fermentation weight in the jar to hold everything down. Then once the saltwater brine you made is cool, pour it over the vegetables and weight until everything, including the fermentation weight is submerged.
- Store your fermentation jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. It should be kept in an area that stays around 70-75 degrees F
- During the first few days of fermentation carbon dioxide and bubbles will be produced. During this time you will need to burp the jar. To burp the jar, just remove the lid to let the gas out and check to make sure everything is still submerged below the brine. You must make sure that your fermentation weight and vegetables are staying submerged BELOW the brine. You may have to press everything down with a spoon/tamper a few times.
- If you lose brine during the first few days (which is common in very full jars when bubbles are produced) use steps 1-4 to make a salt solution to replace the lost brine. Replacing lost brine can only be done during the first 4-5 days. Adding brine after that will dilute acid present in the ferment, disrupt bacterial sucession, and cause the ferment to not be properly preserved.
- The zucchini needs to ferment at least 2 weeks, so that all the stages of bacterial succession can occur. The time line is a little different from cabbage fermentation since vegetables like zucchini, squash and cucumbers naturally have a high amount of lactic acid producing bacteria to start off with. 2 weeks also allows enough time for the final stage Lactobacillus bacteria to produce enough lactic acid. Visit our Science of Fermentation blog to read more about the stages of fermentation!
We tracked our zucchini spirals throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages under the microscope we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline of zucchini fermentation should approximately match ours!
24 - 48 hours: all contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria and possible pathogens present.
48 - 72 hours: After 48 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. and we mean A LOT. There will be way more bubbles than in a cabbage based fermentation. This is when you will need to burp the jar. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Gram negative organisms die off.
3 - 7 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The ferment will become cloudy and start to develop a pleasant sour smell. Lactobacillus species are most abundant during this time period.
10 - 14 days: Lactobacillus make up majority or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid, and make the ferment smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes preserved. This is when you want to smell and taste test.
14 days: Wait for the veggies to smell and taste as you like, and refrigerate when you find the smell and taste most pleasant! We like ours best when we refrigerate at about 14 days. refrigerating at this time point also keeps them crunchy.
Peace, Love and Microbes,