Recipe: Fermented Parsnip Pickles Are Tangy & Tasty

These fermented parsnip pickles make use of root vegetable harvests and Thanksgiving extras for a tangy, garlicky treat that's sure to delight.

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: weyo/Adobe Stock

As the seasons change and our gardens are now (mostly) asleep for the winter here in the north, we turn inside the home and tend to do a lot more cooking and projects we’ve put off during the growing season.  

Once the temps drop, a switch flips inside me that gives me the desire to cook all things “cozy.” Root vegetables begin to make a frequent appearance on our dinner menus at this time as well. We enjoy roasting all types of root veggies, including radishes, turnips, beets, celeriac, rutabagas and sweet potatoes. Root veggies are also delicious mashed and eaten in place of traditional mashed potatoes. 

Of all the root vegetables, my mom favors parsnips. I have to admit that they aren’t on the top of my list, but I do enjoy them. However, I do love parsnips fermented and eaten as a pickle. This is also the case with radishes. Root vegetables are actually very delicious fermented and do very well in keeping their texture and crunch through the process. 

If you have some extra parsnips around from Thanksgiving, give this simple fermented parsnip pickles recipe a try. 

Yield: 1 pint jar (2 cups) 


  • 1/2 lb. parsnips, cut into 1/4 inch coins 
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed 
  • 2 tsp. coarse kosher salt dissolved in 1 cup of water 


Wash parsnips and trim off the ends. Cut into 1/4-inch coins. Do not peel, as the skin aids in fermentation due to bacteria that naturally occurs on the skin of the parsnip.  

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Fill a clean pint-sized canning jar with the parsnips and garlic. Pack the jar well without bruising or crushing the parsnips.  

Once the jar is packed, pour in the brine until the beans are completely submerged and covered by at least 1/2 inch of brine. Be sure to leave 1 to 2 inches of headspace in the jar (space from the top of the beans to the rim of the jar). Leaving some space will help keep the ferment from bubbling over during fermentation. 

If you have a small fermentation jar weight, add it to the jar to hold down the produce under the brine. Remove any small pieces of food that float up to the top of the brine, as anything above the brine will increase the risk of mold and ultimately the ferment spoiling.  

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


This is a five- to seven-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60 and 75 degrees F, and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Check on the ferment daily to make sure that the brine is covering all the produce. If any 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). 

Taste test your parsnip pickles after five days to see if the they have fermented to your liking. They should be garlicky and tangy. If they still taste as they do in their raw form, allow them to ferment another day or two and taste again until they’ve reached your preferred flavor. 

Fermentation does not stop once the ferment is transferred to the refrigerator, however it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture of your fermented parsnip pickles will continue to change, therefore this ferment is best enjoyed within 12 months. 

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, 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 stirring in the salt to make your brine. You may substitute fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt if you prefer—the measurement will remain the same for this recipe. 

It is completely normal for the brine to turn cloudy during fermentation. This is a sign that fermentation is progressing as it should. 

This recipe has been adapted from Stephanie Thurow’s WECK Small-Batch Preserving with permission from Skyhorse Publishing Inc. 

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