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A delicious 3 step ferment recipe to keep you well through Winter!

Happy December! We're in the kitchen this month so each week I'll be sharing some quick, easy get ahead recipes with you ahead of Christmas or whatever winter festivities you celebrate.

First up, a spiced, grounding red ferment that'll be the perfect addition to your Christmas dinner table. Not only is it delicious, it makes a great alternative to braised red cabbage and brings with it lots of probiotics and digestive enzymes, supporting your immunity through Winter and helping you digest all that heavy Christmas food!

It takes under 20 minutes to put together and then the fermentation does all the work. So, let's get to it!

Psst - if you'd like to see me make this recipe I'm sharing it follow along style on Instagram. It'll be saved as a highlighted story so you can view it there and make it along with me.

Rather just buy mine? Here you go!

Spiced Red Cabbage Ferment With Ginger And Black Pepper

I've given a basic 3-4 ingredient recipe to keep things simple but as with any ferment you can be creative with the ingredients. Some other nice additions are beetroot and other spices like caraway, cinnamon of nutmeg - dried is fine.

I have to say though these ingredients alone make a really beautiful, simple ferment. You can really appreciate the spicy ginger and black pepper alongside the sweet, earthy taste of the red cabbage.

If you do add other ingredients make sure cabbage is still the bulk of the recipe because cabbage is naturally very high in the good, naturally occurring cultures that help it to ferment

You'll need

  • 1 red cabbage (save a large outer leave of the cabbage for later)
  • A 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • A teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper or as much as you like
  • Sea salt - see method for further details
  • Optional probiotic cultures if you want a quicker 3 day ferment. See below
  • Gloves
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • A large glass jar or several smaller ones


  • Chop your cabbage into bitesized pieces or grate it either by hand or shred it in a food processor and rinse
  • Peel and grate the ginger and add to the cabbage
  • Add the salt. The volume of salt should be 2.5% of the weight of the ingredients which works out to around a dessert spoon depending on the size of your cabbage. You can weigh your ingredients beforehand to check
  • Mix all the ingredients until well combined with your (gloved) hands, massage and squeeze the vegetables until they become limp and soggy - this is the texture you want as it releases the liquid and creates a salty brine which will preserve your vegetables while they are fermenting
  • If you don't have gloves and don't want to process it with your hands you can put the outer leaf on top of the ingredients and something on top of it to weigh it down and leave it for an hour or so until the juices are released
  • Pack in your clean glass jars and push down. The brine should rise to cover the vegetables. Keep it held down with the big outer cabbage leaf and put the lid on, making sure it's all covered with brine. put a bowl or plate underneath as the brine may overflow during fermentation
  • Leave to ferment for about week (no longer than 4 weeks) before transferring to the fridge* checking each day to ensure the brine is still covering the vegetables if not mix up some salty water (2.5g salt to 100ml of water) and pour on top. This checking also involves opening the jar every day which is necessary to burp the jar so that it doesn't explode from the build up of gas!
  • Refrigerate. Taste it first, it should taste tangy, this is from the lactic acid that is produced by the fermentation. You can leave it in the fridge for a few days before eating for the fermentation to slow down and flavours to develop
  • If using probiotic cultures for a quicker ferment I'd suggest 1-2 capsules of Optiback Every Day  (no affiliation) for each kilo of vegetables. This works well as the cultures in that (from the lactobacillus family) will complement those on the cabbage. You could also add in a capsule of Plantarum which also aids fermentation

Your ferment will last for at least 3 months, longer but it'll taste more ripe and the vegetables will start to soften as it ages.

*When we make our ferments we use specific strains of probiotic cultures. As well as giving it more health benefits this means we only need to give it a short ferment. Just using the vegetables means you'll need to give it a week at least. If you want to be technical you can use PH testing strips and ensure the vegetables have dropped to below 4.5 which means it is acidic enough and preserved. Most home fermenters don't bother testing but just give at least a week before transferring to the fridge.

Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions!

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