What are Cultured Vegetables?

DSC01129Cultured vegetables – what are they? They are one of my secret weapons. I am crazy for these foods. They are more than food to me. They work like magic. Here is my story of cultured veggies and the magic they have performed in my family’s health.

First, it was my daughter Maci and her terrible IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She had cultured vegetables at every meal, about a heaping spoonful. They help heal her gut and help her digest her foods. They were huge in her recovery, and she eats them every day to this day.

It was many years ago that my husband, Ron, my daughter, Maci, and I ate some bad artichoke dip and food poisoning ensued. It was awful. As I lay in bed moaning, I began to get mad and decided that I was not going down without a fight. I dragged myself to the kitchen and ate 2 big spoons full of cultured veggies then went back to bed. About 30 minutes later, I was up doing dishes.  Maci and Ron were almost crying as they asked me how I could walk around and behave normally. It was those veggies. They work like a SWAT team inside your body. They will fight off all kinds of viruses and bacteria. Did you know that they gave these vegetables to the chickens with bird flu  and the chickens recovered? It’s because these veggies are awesome!!!  This is always in my arsenal for any sickness. Colds, flu whatever, just take them and they will work.

Now my latest discovery is what cultured veggies do for seasonal allergies. I have had allergies to pollen since I was 15. Every spring I stayed inside and suffered. These last few years since I discovered cultured foods, my allergies started to get better. Every year my 8 weeks of allergy misery was getting smaller and smaller. Last year it was cut down to 4 days. One of the things I discovered was that the more cultured veggies I ate, the better it got. I eat about 1/2 cup two to three times a day and I do great. I also take a lot of kefir and kombucha, as those are important too. I can go outside and enjoy the springtime. It is a beautiful thing. Cultured veggies are loaded with vitamin C and they fight inflammation – both are very important for your immune system when it is struggling with pollen.

 Super Food For Super Health

DSC01093.jpgNot pickled, fermented!

Raw cultured vegetables are powerful super foods and include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and many others. There is a major difference between the foods eaten today as compared to long ago. Years ago, fermented vegetables were used as a way to prevent spoilage in food. They were also used on the voyages of Captain Cook to prevent scurvy with his shipmates. The main difference today, as compared to long ago, is that cultured vegetables, such as pickles and sauerkraut have been pasteurized, thus in part, destroying the many strains of the health promoting bacteria and naturally occurring enzymes that help with digestion and a slew of other things. These foods are so powerful that in Asia, where they were experiencing the bird flu, they fed an extract of kimchi, a fermented food, to 13 infected chickens – and a week later 11 of them had started recovering. Many times when I or someone close to me has been sick I have given them a tablespoon or two of cultured vegetables and watched the remarkable speed of their recovery.

Click to Learn How to Make Cultured Vegetables

326 Responses to "What are Cultured Vegetables?"
  1. Hi there,

    If I use a 5L crock, can I then transfer my ready veg into 1L jars if I have sterilised them?

    Also – if I use a mason jar to ferment in the first place – does it have to be covered with a tea towel if I am fermenting them in a bright room?



  2. Dr Mercola said to not but the lid on tight on mason jars; to leave them loose because pressure can build up and break the jar. Have you experienced this happening

  3. Hi Donna,
    I was making sauerkraut and enjoying it but stopped when I’ve been told that eating raw veggies in the crucerfious family can negatively affect the thyroid. I have a sub-clinical hypothyroid condition. Cabbage, kale, broccoli & spinach have goitrogens in them. Goitrogens are negated through the cooking of these vegetables. Do you know if culturing these particular veggies are they still considered “raw” or because they are cultured the goitrogens are not a factor, as if the veggies were cooked.

  4. Hi Donna,
    I recently purchased your gallon jar w/airlock and fermented some Red Cabbage, it’s been sitting on my counter for 10 days now and there are no bubbles at all. It just taste like salty, crunchy cabbage. It doesn’t have that “tangy” taste that other ferments (Green Cabbage) had that I made (without an airlock).
    Thank you in advance for your response.

  5. I don’t believe that adding salt, vinegar or brine is the same as producing a fermented product with live cultures. Pickling is different than fermentation.

  6. Good morning Donna,
    I’ve got a crock of sauerkraut on the go in heated garage approx. 50 degrees F sometimes gets quite cold. I started in the house just after Christmas so It has been almost 2 months and I do not believe it is ready yet. Would this cold hurt the fermentation process if not could I bring it inside in the warmth to continue fermentation. I have never seen any bubbles in the crock like I see in the jars that I have made before. What would you recommend.

  7. Do you use fine or coarse salt? If you can use regular plastic storage caps what happens to the gas produced? And why do they sell the bubblers? Interested in starting. Thanks

  8. If I use the starter culture packets, do I need to use a new one for each batch? Or can I just use some of the already cultured veggies to start a new one?

  9. Should homemade Sauerkraut taste and smell like Bubbies? I’ve tried a couple of batches with the Caldwell culture starter but they don’t smell great. I’m not sure if I’ve done something wrong.

      • I used 1 head of organic cabbage, 1/2 tbsp of Celtic Sea Salt and 1/2 package of the culture starter activated in 1/2 cup of water with 1 tsp of sugar. I put it in two mason jars with a ceramic weight and an airlock plastic lid. It sat in a dark cupboard in my kitchen (around 72 degrees) for 6 days. The liquid covered the cabbage but it didn’t ever bubble much. Thank you so much for your help!

  10. Donna

    Hope you are well. I have recently started kefir and cultured veggies. After a few days of kefir my face skin has started to breakout. It’s like an allergic reaction type of thing. I suffered from rosacea and hive for a long time and finally it went away after trying so many different remedies. I am really scared that it doesn’t start up again. It’s been about a week now that the problem started. I have stopped the kefir and veggies completely now, but I think it’s the kefir that might be doing it. Has anybody has else had similar problems? I have bought some anti-histamines which I haven’t taken yet. Please advise on what I should do?

      • My skin has done a similar thing…but I’ve continued with the fermented foods and it’s passing. I felt like it was the “healing crisis” I’ve heard mentioned.

        • Hi Deb

          How long did it take this phase to pass? I am thinking of starting on the kefir and veggies again as I really do enjoy them. How much kefir do you drink a day and how much veggies do you eat? And did you take any DAO supplement?

          Grateful for your comments?



      • Donna,

        Hope you are well? My face has cleared up now – just get the odd spot here and there. I want to start on the kefir and veggies again but which one should I start with? And how much of each should I consume in a day to start with.

        Also, would it be better to start with ready made kefir you get in the shops as there are many varieties available here in the UK. I feel the homemade one may be too strong for me as a starter. And is the alcohol content higher in the homemade kefir than the ready made one in shops?

        Grateful for your help and early response as I really want to be able to include these miracle foods in my diet asap?



        • Do which ever one feels of most interests to you. They’re both great for you. If you do kefir start with 1/4 cup a day and build up to at least a cup a day. Veggies start with 1 tablespoon a day and then you can have more after you adjust. Glad your having success. Good job!

  11. Donna , I have packed some jars with shredded cultured veggies and covered with cabbage leaves. When I pressed the veggies down after placing the cabbage leaves on top a lot of brine has come to the top. Is it ok to get pour that out of the jar as it has become a bit full and the brine is oozing out. Also I have metal lid on the jar and the brine oozing out smelt a bit metallic. I think I packed the jars too full.

    Grateful for your advice.



  12. Hello Donna,

    Im very thankful of you and your very well prepared website; thanks to the well of information in it I was encouraged to try kefir and cultured vegetables. So far the kefir with the second ferment, with fruits are my teen girls favorite! I tried to cultured vegetables with the whey and it was great. Can I cultured vegetables with some of the kefir grains? I have a lot of kefir grains! Thanks again, Frody

  13. Donna

    When making brine how much salt to water should be used? Grateful for your early reply as I’m planning to ferment some veggies tomorrow. Many thanks.


  14. Can I use salt brine and powdered probiotics to make starter culture for fermented veggies? Dr Mercola used celery juice and probiotic caps in his one.

  15. Hi Donna,
    -Could you please repeat the olive oil trick referenced below?
    Samantha says:

    September 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Hey thanks for that, you have been very helpful, I can’t wait to try my new kefir veg with your olive oil trick on the top. Sam from New Zealand.

    -How long should I leave my kimchee on the counter? I have seen several days to 6 weeks.



  16. I made the mistake of storing my Body Ecology culture starter in my cool basement for a number if months instead of my refrigerator. Will it still work?

  17. I am fermenting cabbage on my counter, but about an inch of the cabbage has come above the water and has been that way for a few days. Is my fermentation ruined? Thanks for your help!!

  18. Hi Donna! Thanks so much for your website and books, we love our kefir and kombucha. Just bought some Caldwell’s starter to ferment some veggies, wondering how much salt we are supposed to add to prevent soggy veggies?

  19. Thanks for a nice site. I’ve fermented vegetables for a long time and tried many recipes. Caldwells worked OK. However, BodyEcology seemed to create a more complex taste.

    In any case, thanks for some nice recipes and good suggestions.

  20. I used a Vita Mix to shred my cabbage, it came out mushy. I only filled a 26oz jar and used 1 teaspoon of salt. The water does not seem to separate from the cabbage. Also i live at 8000 feet and last time i tried making the cabbage it did not bubble. Is this due to the elevation?

  21. I just started making sauerkraut and made my first jar this night. Questions are:
    1. Would I have problems using the normal golden lid of the mason jar?
    2. Can I use Himalayan Pink salt?
    3. Also, I usually soak my veggies (including cabbage cut into halfs) in white vinegar before shredding, will this affect the fementation process?

    Thank you

  22. Thank you for a terrific tutorial. I am starting into my second year of sauerkraut and will venture into other veggies also. (I have more crocks on the way.) Question: I’ve ordered too much starter culture packets. They say to refrigerate. Do you suppose they will last longer if I freeze them? Thank you.

  23. I have been making fermented vege with salt for a few years but would like to try your kefir whey idea, would this way have more variety of bacteria? Do you know if it will contain K2? Also I have always used a cheese cloth attached to the top while fermenting is it better to seal the lid with an airtight lid? Is it OK to use a metal preserving lid? Are fermented vege hard on your teeth also? Sorry so may questions 🙂

  24. Do you use the same kind of kefir grains for water kefir and milk kefir? Also what type of water do you use for the veggies; distilled, tap, filtered or what?

    • There are different kefir grains for milk and water kefir. Cultured veggies do best with filter or spring water. Don’t use distilled because it lacks minerals which cultured veggies need.

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