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Fermenting Fail – ’cause I like to keep it Real

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fermenting fail - ohlardy.com

Last week at the Farmer's Market, I found these beautiful beets and decided that they simply must be fermented.  I brought them home and set about my fermenting business.  I decided that I wanted them shredded up, like cabbage.  So, I ran them through my food processor.  This is where I went wrong, friends.

However, at the time, I didn't know it.  I first suspected something wasn't right when after only a day of fermentation, all (and I mean ALL) of the liquid/brine, had leaked out through the lid.  You should have seen the mess.  Thank goodness they were on a tray!  Tamara recommended adding liquid back in to cover the beets.  So I did.  Honestly, I should have thrown them out then.

After a week, this is what my beets looked like:

 fermenting fail - ohlardy.com

Yeah, “ew” is right!  They were promptly dumped into the trash.

Thanks to the wonderful Real Food community, it was brought to my attention that shredding beets is a no-no.  She pointed me in the direction of Nourishing Traditions and this is what I found:

“Do not grate or cut the beets with a food processor – this releases too much juice and the fermentation process will proceed too quickly, so that it favors formation of alcohol rather than lactic acid.”

Oops!!!  Well, now I know.  I tell you what, I learn something new about fermenting foods all of the time.  I consider this part of my growth.  We all mess up from time to time.  When I first started fermenting foods I always wondered how I would know if what I was fermenting had gone bad or not.  My general rule of thumb is if it looks gross or smells awful, I don't want it.  In this case, it looked like worms on the top – not like something I wanted to put on my salads.

Now I have “fermenting beets the correct way” on my to do list.  Stay tuned for the success story.

Does the topic of fermenting baffle you?  We created a Fermenting eCourse just for you and when you sign up, we will send you a Quick Start Guide!  Grab the eCourse and the guide here!

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fermenting fail - ohlardy.com



  1. I tried to do the same thing and got the same results! But it actually worked and I ate it for a while and it was quite tasty 🙂 good to know though!

  2. owwwww, fingers crossed for the next time! It’s always worthwhile when you’ve had to learn some things along the way!

  3. I’ve shredded mine in the food processor for years and have never had this problem. I leave plenty of head space (at least two inches in a wide-mouth quart jar) and press down on the beets about once a day.

  4. .. oh mygoodnessgoshness! I made a huge batch of sauerkraut this fall, I was so proud of myself, used 9 heads of cabbage from my garden. In about 3 weeks things started turning a bit pink…stepped up with additional brine, by week five I was dumping it all out. … was so disheartened.. lesson learned, go small less heartbreak.. :).. and not to give up. ..instead made a batch of sliced cabbage with hot peppers.. we all love beets, will have to give this one a go…

  5. That is so crazy! I have had many a fail on the way as well. Now I want to post mine! Real life. Makes you wonder what was in the air, literally…gotta love fermentation. Thanks for sharing, yo!

  6. I just made an awesome concoction with shredded beets, purple cabbage and carrots. Maybe the addition of the other veggies slows down the fermentation process. I’m not sure, but it’s delicious!

  7. My first attempt to ferment was great. Ever since-no luck! Keep trying to re-read first “beginner’s luck” success!

  8. I have been fermenting shredded beets for years and the only time I have a problem is either one of these things: not using enough salt, not using a starter culture, or leaving it out on the counter too long.

    One of the things I like about them is that they are so fast to ferment. In 3 or 4 days, they are ready to be refrigerated.

    I also like the fact that unlike beet kvass, I eat the entire beet. Nothing gets wasted or thrown out.

  9. In regards to fermenting ,I was wondering if anyone knows how to ferment potatoes? I saw something about how fermented potatoes do not cause your blood sugar to spike like regular cooked potatoes will & I would like to know more about it ,but I have not been able to find anything.

  10. My first attempt at fermenting was an epic fail. The recipe did not make clear and I didn’t realize that everything needed to be submerged in water. It developed a very unappealing white mold that had an unpleasant odor and I threw everything out.

    Live and learn and my subsequent attempts at fermenting have mostly been successful.

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