Recipe: Fermented Giardiniera With Cauliflower, Carrot & Peppers

Make this spicy fermented relish using garlic, cauliflower, peppers and carrots for a versatile condiment sure to liven up any dish.

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: Stephanie Thurow

Since the Fermented Cauliflower with Turmeric recipe that we shared last month was such a hit, we are taking it one step further this month with a fermented Giardiniera recipe. This spicy medley of veggies is traditionally preserved with vinegar, or oil and vinegar.

This fermented cauliflower recipe, however, is preserved with just salt and water. It provides a surprisingly delicious alternative to the classic Italian relish.e

Once fermented, this spicy relish is great as a sandwich topper or spooned over chili or eggs. And it’s delicious mixed into pasta or spread over a slice of pizza. Consider even setting out a small dish on your next charcuterie platter.

Read more: These 10 tips will help you start fermenting today!

Fermented Giardiniera 

Yield: 1 quart jar


  • 1/4 cup carrot, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup serrano peppers, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup small cauliflower florets, uniform in size
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 fresh pesticide-free grape leaf or raspberry leaf (optional)

1 tbsp. kosher salt dissolved in 2 cups of water

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Wash and chop all vegetables, mix together and transfer to a quart jar. Pack ingredients down well into jar. Carefully push them down with your fist, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace.

Mix together the brine and pour the brine over the produce until everything is completely submerged. Leave at least 1 inch 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 ingredients completely submerged under the brine. Remove any small pieces of food that float up to the top of the brine. Produce above the brine will increase the risk of the ferment spoiling.

Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean dampened towel. Add the Mason jar canning lid and tightly screw on the ring.

giardiniera fermented cauliflower
Stephanie Thurow


This is a seven-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60-75 degrees F (15-23 degrees C), and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Check on the ferment daily to make sure that the brine covers all the produce. If the produce has floated above the brine level, use a clean utensil to push it back 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 possible jar breakage or the ferment from overflowing).

This is an active ferment. Foam-like bubbling after a day or two of fermentation is totally normal and a sign that things are fermenting along, just as they should be.

After one week of fermentation, taste test a spoonful to determine if the relish has the spicy, sour and tangy flavor you desire. If it still has the flavor of the vegetables in the raw form, allow it to ferment another day or two and taste again.

Once the fermented cauliflower recipe has reached your ideal flavor, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.

Fermentation does not stop once the ferment is transferred to the refrigerator. However it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture will continue to change, therefore this ferment is best enjoyed within six months.

Read more: Here are 20 unusual seeds to try in your garden this year!

Side Notes

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, use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.

giardiniera fermented cauliflower
Stephanie Thurow

The addition of the grape or raspberry leaf to the ferment is to help the vegetables stay crunchy. Grape and raspberry leaves contain naturally occurring tannins that help fermented vegetables, such as cauliflower, keep their crunch. However the ferment will be delicious without them. (I know many people around the country won’t find these easily this time of year.)

Adding two bay leaves is another alternative. However the addition of bay leaves will change the overall flavor of the ferment. Make sure you use pesticide-free leaves.

If you are unsure if your water is safe for fermentation, you can boil it and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring 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.

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