The Best Lacto-Fermented Green Beans with Ginger and Scallions

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Green beans are one of the best and easiest vegetables to ferment! With just salt, water, fresh green beans, spices, a fermentation weight, and a mason jar you can make these probiotic-packed fermented green beans at home. This recipe requires a kitchen scale for measuring ingredients and two weeks of fermentation at room temperature.

Choosing the Right Green Beans for Fermentation

  • Green beans should be purchased untrimmed and loose from the store or farmers’ market. DO NOT buy green beans that have been trimmed, triple washed and packaged in a plastic bag because they will not ferment well. It is possible to have success with the bagged type of green beans; however, it is more likely that the fermentation fails.
  • Good options for sourcing quality green beans are your local farmers market, Whole Foods Market, sprouts market, and open-aired produce stands. Many grocery stores that have a fresh produce section with vegetables not packaged in plastic also carry fresh green beans.
  • Make sure the green beans are crisp, hydrated, and fresh. If you try to bend one in half, it should quickly and easily snap.
  • Green beans season in the USA is late spring through early fall, so this will be the easiest time to find fresh green beans.
fermented green beans in a mason jar with scallion slices, grated ginger, and a salt brine. The green beans are held down in the brine with a glass fermentation weight

Equipment You Need to Make Fermented Green Beans

Here’s all the supplies and equipment you will need to make this recipe:

How to Make Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

This recipe is simple! The hardest part is waiting two weeks for the fermentation process to finish. Why two weeks? Well, here’s what happens when green beans are fermented for two weeks at about 76° F:

We tracked our fermented green beans throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages using microscopy we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline for lacto-fermented green beans should approximately match ours! 

24 – 72 hours: All contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and possible pathogens present. 
  
 72 hours – 7 days: After 72 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles produced and the green beans will begin to change color. This is the stage in which you will 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 from stage one have all died off. 

7 – 12 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The mixture will become cloudy and start to develop a pleasantly sour smell. Lactobacillus species are most abundant during this time period.

12 – 14 days: Lactobacillus dominate 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.

Can You Ferment Vegetables That Come in a Bag?

No, you cannot ferment clipped, triple washed green beans that come packaged in a plastic bag.

I do not recommend using triple-washed, pre-chopped vegetables that come in a plastic bag for fermentation. 

These vegetables are usually triple-washed, with “vegetable wash” and drying agents, which contain antimicrobial chemicals, sulfates, and phosphates; YES, even if it’s organic. FDA food laws don’t require the packaging to tell you this because the “wash” is considered a food contact substance and not a final product food ingredient.

These washing and drying agents kill most of the friendly microbes on the vegetables. So the microorganisms that facilitate a healthy fermentation process are not present.

Fermented Green Bean Benefits

Have you ever heard of GABA? It stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid. It is a naturally occurring, non-protein, amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. GABA is studied and produced for its multitude of benefits like: 

  • relieving anxiety
  • improving mood
  • inhibition of cancer cell proliferation
  • reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • aiding in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment
  • lean muscle growth
  • stabilizing blood pressure
  • relieving muscle pain

Well, it turns out that the microorganisms involved in the lactic acid fermentation of vegetables produce a lot of GABA! This is especially true in fermented cucumbers and fermented green beans. Biologically synthesized GABA, like that produced during fermentation, is more usable by the human body than chemically synthesized GABA. So if you’re feeling like you need a mental wellness boost, try eating some fermented green beans.

The Difference Between Pickled and Fermented Green Beans

Pickling and fermenting are very different processes. Pickling is a sterile process for preserving food. This means there are no microorganisms involved in the pickling process. This process utilizes hot acidic liquid to sterilize and preserve vegetables.

Fermentation is a living process, relying on acid production by beneficial microorganisms. Fermentation takes time and requires a specific salt concentration for consistency and safety. To read more about salt and fermentation click here.

More Fermentation Recipes to Try

Are you looking to learn more about the science of fermentation?

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The Best Lacto-Fermented Green Beans with Ginger and Scallions

Green beans are one of the best and easiest vegetables to ferment! With just salt, water, fresh green beans, spices, a fermentation weight, and a mason jar you can make these probiotic-packed fermented green beans at home. This recipe requires a kitchen scale for measuring ingredients and two weeks of fermentation at room temperature. 

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Fermentation Time: 2 weeks
  • Total Time: 336 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Fermented Vegetables
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 300 grams fresh green beans
  • 550 grams water
  • 10 grams grated ginger root
  • 30 grams scallions, chopped
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 32 grams sea salt

Instructions

 
  1. Cut the ends off the green beans and rinse them well in cool water. 
  2. Dissolve the 32 grams of sea salt in 550 grams of water. 
  3. Add the green beans, ginger, and scallions to the 1-quart mason jar, and fill the jar with the water and salt mixture.
  4. Place your fermentation weight in the jar and make sure the weight and all the green beans are submerged in the salt brine.
  5. Place the mason jar lid on the jar and secure it closed.
  6. Allow for fermentation at room temperature for 2 weeks.
  7. During the first three days, expect a lot of carbon dioxide production. You will need to gently open the jar lid to let some of the gas out daily. At the one week mark, you should notice the bubbles decreasing and eventually stopping completely at two weeks.
  8. Check the pH at two weeks to ensure it is below four. Once it is, store the fermented green beans in the fridge. 

Notes

  • This recipe is sized to fit a 32-ounce mason jar at 1x.
  • I suggest using a wide-mouth mason jar.
  • It’s best to set the fermentation jar in a glass baking dish to catch any liquid that seeps out while it’s bubbling.
  • The green beans will keep in the fridge for a year or two.

Keywords: green beans, fermented

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Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

10 comments

Jutta Krause November 4, 2021 - 6:13 am

Hello Kaitlynn,
we have tried the bean recipe and it is delicious. But a few hours after eating them I had stomach cramps and violent diarrrhea. Now I have read that you should never eat raw green beans and that you should also cook fermented green beans before eating in order to deactivate the protein phasin in the beans which is poisonous. Why do you not mention that and what are your experiences with this? My husband also had beans – and no symptoms.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 4, 2021 - 8:32 am

Hi there,

There’s an insignificant, negligible amount of lectin proteins in green beans. Fermented green beans are even better because the beneficial bacteria digest and reduce lectin content by over 95%. Sounds like you personally need to cook them? I cooked some fermented green beans in a curry last night and they were great.

You should ask your primary care physician or another medical professional about any personal food intolerance symptoms you experience.

I, my husband, and my whole family eat them straight out of the jar all the time with no issues.

Note: After a quick search of peer-reviewed papers, I can find no clear evidence that raw green beans have PHA levels high enough to make them unsafe. The level of PHA is highest in bean seeds. Green beans are eaten for the green fleshy pod, at a stage when the seeds are only beginning to develop.

Reply
Jutta Krause November 5, 2021 - 4:43 am

Hey Kaitlynn,
thanks for your answer. We also thought that the fermentation process would take care of the lectins and – as I said: my husband did not have the same reaction to them. We live in Germany and the german sites all warn about the lectins and recommend cooking – hence my question. I appreciate that you took the time to give us that information.
happy fermenting!

Reply
Ding March 26, 2022 - 7:51 pm

Good day Ma’am,

Pesticide residue is an ongoing concern for commercially produced vegetables here in the Philippines, and beans (snap, long) are specially problematic. Government agencies/personnel suggest pre-soaking in water with add-ons ranging from salt, vinegar, baking soda or combinations. Do you think it is effective? How would it affect the micro organisms? Do you have an alternative method?
Thank you.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley March 28, 2022 - 9:15 am

If you would like to use conventionally grown vegetables that may contain pesticide residue, you can soak them and clean them as recommended. This may eliminate a lot of the microbes needed for the fermentation process. However, you can ensure good microbes are present and that fermentation still happens effectively by using a starter culture, or by adding some chopped inner leaves of cabbage to the bottom of the jar.

Reply
Ding March 28, 2022 - 11:41 am

Ms Kaitlynn,
Thank you very much for your reply. Information you give out gives me the confidence to continue on my fermentation journey. Again, thank you.

Reply
Mike Guba August 29, 2022 - 8:19 am

First, thank you for keeping you recipes in grams! As anyone who has reviewed the Morton’s website knows, all Tablespoons of salt are not created equal. This is my second year dabbling in fermentation. I have probably read a couple hundred recipes and made about half a dozen. All the recipes I read prior to yours have recommended a salinity between 2% and 5% for Green beans, most at the lower end of that range around 3%; so, I am curious why you are recommending a salinity of 5.82% for Green Beans?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 29, 2022 - 9:12 am

Using grams and a scale is the best.

Seems like the recipes you’ve read prior do not account for the water inside the vegetables.

I use total salt concentration in my recipes because it is more consistent and yields better sensory qualities for everyone who tries the recipe. This recipe uses about a 3.5% total salt concentration.

Total salt concentration logically factors in the weight of the green beans, because 90% of the weight of a green bean IS water.

For instance, if you top 1000 grams of green beans with 1000 grams of 3% salinity salt water brine, the beans will absorb salt from the added salt water brine until the salt concentration inside of the bean matches the salt concentration in the water outside of the bean. So the brine will end up being about 1.7% salinity inside and outside of the green beans… Which is too low and often leads to soggy, disgusting fermented beans.

If you calculate the % of salt to add with the weight of the water AND vegetables factored in, then you can determine the total salt concentration that will from inside and outside the vegetable. 3.5% total salt concentration is best for things that grow from blossoms (cucumbers, beans, peppers etc) to stay crunchy.

Reply
Mike Guba August 29, 2022 - 10:11 am

I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it makes sense. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and insights. Can you recommend any references that document the percent of water in various vegetables? In addition to Green Beans, I am very interested in understanding: Asparagus, Okra, Radishes, Hot Peppers, and Cucumbers. Just based on bite and mouth feel, I would have thought that Cucumbers have the highest percent of water by weight, green beans would have much less water by weight, with Pepper some where in between. It appears that I am incorrect?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 29, 2022 - 10:28 am

Pretty much all vegetables are 90-98% water, so not a big margin of difference between vegetables. Cucumbers are about 98% water, green beans are 90%, and peppers are 92-95%. I don’t have a chart I use or anything. For simplicity, I essentially treat the vegetables like they are 100% water in my recipes.

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