My grandma picked up a couple huge, beautiful, organic cauliflower heads from the market the other day. She decided that one was more than enough for herself and gifted me one. We love roasting vegetables in our household, and cauliflower is our favorite roasted veggie. The head she gave us was so large that after roasting an entire cookie sheet of cauliflower, I still had more left over, so I decided to ferment it and make some pickled cauliflower.
Fermented cauliflower is delicious—it keeps its crunch and absorbs flavors well. I shared a fermented garlicky cauliflower with turmeric recipe a couple years ago, as well as a fermented giardiniera recipe. They are both on my frequently made list, even after nearly a decade.
This recipe is an adaptation of a pickled cucumber, substituting cauliflower instead of pickling cucumbers. The dilly flavor makes this ferment great for chopping into salads, mixing into tuna or just eating as a healthy pickle on the side of a meal.
Yield: 1 quart jar
- 3 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (about one small head of cauliflower)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 sprigs of fresh dill
- 1 tsp. whole yellow mustard seed
- 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt dissolved in 2 cups of water
Wash cauliflower and cut florets into uniform bite-sized pieces so that it ferments evenly. Pack ingredients into a clean quart jar, beginning with the mustard seeds, garlic, then dill and finally cauliflower.
Mix the brine ingredients together and pour the brine over the produce until everything is completely submerged. Be sure to leave 1 to 2 inches of headspace from the brine level to the rim of the jar.
If you have a small fermentation jar weight, add it to the jar to keep the pickled cauliflower ingredients completely submerged under the brine. Remove any small pieces of cauliflower that float up to the top of the brine.
This is a six-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60 and 75 degrees F (15 to 23 degrees C), and keep out of direct sunlight. Check on the ferment daily to make sure the brine stays over the produce. This is a crucial step in all vegetable fermentation, as any produce above the brine is prone to mold.
If the produce is above the brine, use a clean utensil to push the produce back down below the brine. Burp the jar daily—unscrew the lid briefly and tighten it back on to allow any built-up gas to release (and avoid jar breakage). This is an active ferment. Foam-like bubbling after a day or two is totally normal and a sign that things are fermenting along, just as they should be.
After six days, taste test the fermented cauliflower to determine if it is fermented enough and that it has reached your ideal flavor. If the cauliflower tastes as it does in the raw form, you will want to ferment a day or two longer and taste test again. Once the cauliflower pickles are sour and packed with flavor, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.
The pickled cauliflower ferment will last nearly indefinitely, however the texture and flavor will continue to change. Fermentation does not stop once refrigerated, it just slows way down. This ferment is best enjoyed within six months.
If you do not have a glass jar weight, you can improvise by using an easily removable small food-grade glass dish that fits inside the jar. Or, if you have a smaller glass canning jar that can fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting with, you can use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.
If you are unsure if your water is safe for fermentation, you can boil it and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding in the salt to make your brine.
You may use fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt if you prefer. Just adjust the recipe to 1 1/4 tbsp. fine sea salt.
This recipe has been adapted from Can It & Ferment It (2017) with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.