Lacto-Fermentation Hits and Misses- Our Results

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I have been enjoying my kitchen experiments involving Lacto-Fermenting. I’ve done quite a few different things and thought that an honest review of my results might be beneficial to others.

One thing that I have discovered is that I really love this option of preserving food. My husband thinks that I am slightly obsessed with it and he may be right. I have only tried water bath canning as a way of preserving food once (thanks Michaela for the lesson!) and that was fine but one thing with that kind of preservation is that it wouldn’t make much sense to do small quantities because of the work involved. With lacto-fermenting I can do only one jar if that is the amount of produce I have. Plus the benefits of lacto-fermenting are numerous. Fermented vegetables enhances digestibility and promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestines (read more about Lacto-Fermentation here). After years of eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) this is something that my family needs. Remember, with lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables is they are meant to be a condiment. A small amount with a meal is perfect.

Mayonnaise and Ketchup both Lacto-Fermented
Before we get to the fruits and vegetables, I wanted to talk about lacto-fermented Mayonnaise and Ketchup.
I used this recipe from Cheeseslave as a guide for the Mayonnaise but instead of using all olive oil I did 50% olive oil and 50% coconut oil. The flavor was good but a little lemony. The biggest problem showed up the next day- the coconut oil became too solid and the mayo was not spreadable. I knew that the recipe was not a success when I caught Joe with the mayo jar in a hot water bath so he could spread it on his sandwich. Oops. I made a new batch yesterday and used 1/3 coconut oil, 1/3 olive oil and 1/3 toasted sesame oil (this is called Mary’s Oil Blend. I read about it in an online excerpt from Eat Fat, Lose Fat from the sample recipes). I checked the consistency this morning and it is still perfect. I think that the three oils together will work good. The flavor is good but not like store bought mayonnaise (I can taste the sesame oil). To combat the lemony flavor I used half lemon juice and half raw apple cider vinegar. It is now the perfect amount of lemon.
Original mayo- Miss. Second attempt- the jury is still out but I am cautiously saying Hit.

The Ketchup was a Hit. I used this recipe from Ren as a guide. I didn’t have walnut oil so I used olive oil and used the option of the anchovies. The taste was wonderful. Very fresh tasting. Joe loved it and declared it the ‘Best Ketchup Ever’. My son-in-law and the girls said it was okay but that it ‘bit their tongue a little bit’. I didn’t find it bit my tongue until we got to the bottom of the jar then I did notice it. Everyone (except for son-in-law) said I should make it again.

Lacto-fermented Turnips
This is one of my early vegetable attempts. I was given a bunch of Turnips by a friend and decided to lacto-ferment some of them. The turnips have stayed very crisp but they are very strong. I am the only one who will eat them. As a disclaimer, my family did not enjoy the turnips in any fashion that I made them. I think turnips might be a bit of an acquired taste. I made three jars of these, I still have this jar and another full jar. I guess I better get busy eating my turnips.
Turnips were a Miss.

Lacto-fermented Beets and Turnips

My neighbor gave me some beets from her garden. I still had some turnips so I did the Beet and Turnip recipe from the book Nourishing Traditions(1). Much better! The beets calm the flavor of the turnips.

Not pictured: I did straight Beets too. YUM. They were delicious.
Beet and Turnip combination-Hit. Beets alone-Hit.

Lacto-fermented Kumquat Chutney and Kumquat Marmalade

This is one of my recent experiments. I haven’t served them to the family yet but have tried them myself. The Kumquat Chutney is very good. I used the recipe for Cherry Chutney in Nourishing Traditions as a guide. I love the flavor of the Chutney it is spicy but slightly sweet at the same time. I will probably serve this alongside a meat dish, possibly with the Roast we are planning on having on Sunday.

The Kumquat Marmalade is interesting. It is slightly sweet but not as sweet as a regular store bought marmalade. I used the recipe for Orange Marmalade from Nourishing Traditions. There is a note at the bottom of the recipe that it can be made with kumquats. I think I am going to mix the Kumquat Marmalade with some yogurt cheese to make a spread to use for our sourdough bread.

Judging on my own opinion only: Chutney is a Hit. Marmalade- I’m still on the fence about.

Lacto-fermented Spicy Lemons

These Spicy Lemons are delicious! I was gifted alot of lemons when Joe’s Aunt and Uncle came to visit from California. The lemons were fresh off their tree. The are a smaller size (I do not know what kind of lemon) and worked perfect for this. I used the recipe for Spicy Lemons from Get Cultured written by Jenny at the Nourished Kitchen. I had to change the ingredients slightly to accommodate what I had on hand (I didn’t have red pepper flakes so threw in a few slightly crushed whole black peppers). These are great minced up and put over the tops of our meals. Last night we had it over Fried Chicken Livers (recipe from Nourishing Traditions). Delicious! It is also good on top of fish.

Spicy Lemons- Hit.

Lacto-fermented Spicy Carrots

Another major hit is Spicy Carrots. Even Angel (who thinks everything I make is ‘weird’) loves these. I got this recipe from a comment made by Alyss from this post by Wardeh. I left out the jalapenos because I never have them. The picture above is the second batch that I’ve made. The first batch I made 2 quarts and they are gone. In one of the two quarts I had one lonely turnip left so I julienned it and threw it in with the carrots. WOW. Was that good. I think I have definitely learned that if I’m going to lacto-ferment turnips they need to be mixed with something else to keep them from being over powering.

Spicy Carrots- Hit.

Lacto-fermented Kiwi Marmalade

Kiwi Marmalade sounded like a good idea. Joe’s aunt brought us kiwis in addition to the lemons (we also got persimmons but I didn’t lacto-ferment any of those). I was hoping for a sweet jam like result. That is not what I got. The kiwi taste is still very fresh but the saltiness is a little too much. I kept hoping that they would mellow a bit the longer they sat. And they have but still not enough. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with these.

Kiwi Marmalade-Miss.

Lacto-fermented Grapefruit Marmalade

I’m putting this under the Hit category. Grapefruit Marmalade turned out to taste very much like fresh grapefruit. A little tart and a little sweet at the same time. We have had it alongside meat dishes. It was especially wonderful with Pan Roasted Duck Breast.

Grapefruit Marmalade-Hit.

Lacto-fermented Cortido and Sauerkraut

I have made Sauerkraut four or five times now. Previously I used this recipe from Kimi, The Nourishing Gourmet and had great results. But when I broke one of my two large bowls it caused me issues with my kraut making. Inspired by this post from Annie I tried the method for kraut making that she recommended. It was quick and easy and didn’t leave me without a bowl. The flavor is slightly different than the recipe from Kimi but still good. We do love sauerkraut. It is often served alongside or on top of our meals. Joe and I love it spooned on top of our pizza after they are cooked. It is so good!


This Cortido was my first attempt at it. I used the recipe from Nourishing Traditions but I didn’t have red pepper flakes so I used chili powder. It is delicious! Joe calls it ‘Salsa’. We only have half of the small jar left so I guess I’d better get some more ‘Salsa’ going.


Lacto-fermented Apple/Pear Chutney
Apple/Pear Chutney is from Nourishing Traditions recipe for Fruit Chutney but I omitted the crispy pecans and the red pepper flakes (I think I really need to buy some red pepper flakes) called for in the recipe. I used about 2 cups of pears and 4 cups of apples to end up with 2 quarts of chutney. I am not sure whether this is a Hit or a Miss. The fruit stayed very fresh and is still on the crispy side. It smells wonderful. The flavor is good most of the time but the occasional bite will be weird (from one of the spices I think but I don’t know which one) and it does bite the tongue a bit. Joe told me that he would say that he likes it if he knew that it was supposed to bite his tongue. We had it the other night with Supreme Chicken (another Nourishing Traditions recipe) and it was a good combination if we could get past that one spice and the tongue biting.
Apple/Pear Chutney- I don’t want to call it a Hit but not a Miss either. We will eat what I’ve made but in order to make it again I’ll have to tweak it.
Okay so that is my recap of our opinions of the results of my lacto-fermenting. Most have been a Hit but a few have been Misses (namely straight Turnips and Kiwi Marmalade and due to spread ability the Mayo made with 50% coconut oil and 50% olive oil).
If you would like to try lacto-fermenting I think the Spicy Carrots are the most family friendly recipe that I have done followed by the Cortido. Either would be a great introduction to lacto-fermenting.
What is your favorite lacto-fermented food? Do you have any links or recipes to share with me so I can continue my lacto-fermenting obsession?
This post is a contribution to Fight Back Friday hosted each week by Food Renegade.
Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at


  1. motherhen68

    >You are so inspiring! I've yet to try half of the fermenting that you've done. 🙂 Your family is also much bolder than mine, because I highly doubt that anyone would even taste fermented turnips! 🙂

    The one ferment I can guarantee my family will eat is this fermented salsa by the Urban Homemaker: I make this about once a month. I've added a whole haberno pepper with just a slash in it to make it really spicy. That was a hit w/my hubs. I do have to use canned tomatoes, but next summer, I'll plan to can my own.

    I'm going to try some of your fruit ferments. I did pineapple once and it was so tangy and sour, no one could stomach it.

  2. motherhen68

    >Just wanted to let you know, I looked around your blog after my last comment and I am loving it! You and I seem to be on the same "real food" journey. 🙂

    I added you to my reader. I can't wait to see future posts.

  3. Michaela Dunn Leeper

    >You weren't kidding when you said you were really doing this LF stuff, huh!!! It looks great. Cortido is on my to do list.

  4. Kim

    >Hi Millie! I am so glad you did this post…we've had very good results with the LF salsa and sauerkraut, but nobody would eat the beets. They seemed extra salty. Does this mellow with age? We had a lot of beets this summer and I ended up having to "pickle" them. Of course, everyone loves those.

    I still have to try the grapefruit marmalade. I think the family will like that one.

  5. Wardeh

    >Great overview of your hits and misses! I would like to see the recipe for kraut that you tried – it isn't linked in the post. I've got some cabbage and want to try a new method this time.

  6. Millie

    >Thanks everyone!
    Motherhen: The salsa looks great. Thanks for the link. My family is surprisingly brave. My husband especially. It really does help me experiment knowing they will at least taste what I make (then they give me an honest review which sometimes I do not want to hear.)

    Anon: I love doing veggies. I haven't been as pleased with the fruit results but I like my fruit sweet and salty fruit just seems wrong.

    Michaela: I think you will love the cortido. Mine turned out very mellow and full of flavor.

    Kim: My beets did mellow. I left mine at room temp for a few weeks until they were the right saltiness. Then put in the fridge where they continue to mellow just at a slower pace. We just finished up the last jar earlier this week. I wish I would have had more to do. Maybe next summer.

  7. Wardeh

    >Thanks, Millie – That's about how I did it last time only I used a fermentation master jar. This time I am just going to use a tightly capped jar like Annie. I don't like the bowl method – everything I have tried molds and spoils. 🙁

  8. Angela

    >This is an excellent post! I'm so inspired to try more lacto-fermenting. My last few attempts were dismal failures that no one would eat.

    And don't even ask about my attempt at Beet Kvass!

    I'm going to be checking out all the links to the recipes you used and hopefully I'll have some successes soon!

  9. Donna

    Have you had this blog suspended for a while or something? I can't figure how I missed it!

    You've got some great stuff here!!!!!!!!

    I made the orange marmalade from nt once- but could never really figure out what to do with it! It was like a spicey orange syrup-juice. It had a good taste- but what to do with it? any ideas?

  10. Millie

    >Hi Donna!
    I started this food blog back in November when I discovered that my family blog was being taken over by food posts.
    I think that I'll use some my kumquat marmalade as a flavoring for yogurt or kefir cheese. I'm thinking that would make it suitable to use on breads and crackers. I'm also thinking that it will be good with chicken. Like Chicken a la Orange.

  11. Donna

    >Ah- ok- sounds good!
    Well, I'm sorry I've been missing all the fun here! 😉

    Thank U for answering!!!
    …I'm gonna have to get back here when all the kids are in the bed so I can prowl through your posts some more! Yummy!

  12. Anonymous

    >Hi, I am quite new to the real food thing and I have a question about lacto-fermenting. I notice you use whey, however I am lactose intolerance and so have a dairy free diet. Do you know if the fermenting breaks down the lactose or would the final product still have lactose in it?

  13. Millie

    >Hi Anonymous,
    I don't know the answer. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon recommends using double the salt instead of whey if whey is not available (in vegetable recipes only, whey is needed for fruits) but I don't find anything written by her stating what to do if one has an issue with whey. I suspect that since the function of the whey is to help the fermentation process along that the whey is converted. And by eating the lacto-fermented items you are changing the flora in your intestine which I suspect would also be beneficial and help with your overall lactose intolerance. BUT these are just things that I think from my own research. To be safe, you might want to try doing some LF veggies just using salt (double called for) and eliminating the whey.
    I'll try to do a little more research and see if I can get you a better answer.
    Congrats on jumping into Real Food!

  14. Anonymous

    >Thanks for your reply. Thats pretty much what I was thinking myself. I guess I will just have to try it and see how I go… My MIL keeps giving me probiotic supplements but I'd much rather get them from my diet if I can.

  15. Anonymous

    >Wow, these look wonderful!

    I'm relatively new to LF, but so far I've made Cortido (big Hit with me!!), salsa (big hit with the salsa eaters in the family!), and the ginger carrots (Miss, not sure what I did wrong…)

    I'm wondering where you keep all of your LF goodies. My fridge is so full!

    Thanks so much!

  16. Millie

    >Hi Kimber,

    Since this post I've made Cortido too and we love it. I've also done Ginger Carrots and like you had a bit of a Miss. It's not that they are bad they are just not that good 🙂 I also did Kimchi which we loved. I'm waiting until summer for Salsa.

    Where to keep the LF goodies is a challenge. I have a second apartment sized fridge that is pretty much full of LF stuff. But I can see a need for a better (bigger) solution. A cellar would be ideal and I am trying to convince my hubby that we need to add one. We'll see. I have heard of people storing LF stuff in the pantry. I tried that with some kraut and it got all soggy. I can't say for certain that it was from the pantry (maybe the way I processed it). I did leave some spicy carrot sticks in the pantry along with the kraut and they were still terrific. I kind of think that I could leave veggies that are in sticks or chunks in the pantry and veggies that are grated or shredded and fruit in the fridge. I'm still testing this theory though. Officially, they should have cool dry storage.

  17. Anonymous

    >Thanks, Millie!

    Sorry I didn't get to check back sooner.

    I haven't been brave enough to try putting any LFs in the pantry. I keep shoving stuff around in the fridge! I've got my eyes on Freecycle & Craigslist, though. Maybe a there's a second fridge out there for me somewhere. 🙂

    I did trace back through and find the recipe for Spicy Carrots. Yum! I really have been enjoying them with scrambled eggs in the morning, and also with a sandwich at lunch, sometimes.

    I'm with you on the Cortido. It is so good! I've found that on the days I have LF veggies, I don't crave sugar/refined carbs. I'd call that a real win-win situation!

    I've been trying to get my husband to eat the ferments that I make, but he can't get past the smell. *sigh* He will eat the salsa once in a while, though, so I just made a 1/2 gallon jar of that. Here's hoping…

    Have a wonderful week, and keep up the great work!


  18. mere

    >The recipe for papaya chutney from Nourishing Traditions is definitely a HIT as well .. love you review of your creations – will definitely check back in often!

  19. Debra

    >I'm hoping someone can help me out here. I have made lacto-fermented dill pickles, (no whey), just salt, grape leaves, dill. They are crispy and bubbly but don't taste right. They don't taste dilly, they taste very carbonated and sharp, but not good. Any ideas?

    I let them sit out a few days then transferred them to fridge where they've been sitting for a couple of months. I thought they improved with age. Could they been too old?

    I really want to figure this out and make something that tastes good while I can get the small pickles.

    Advice welcome.


  20. Millie

    I haven't done any kind of pickles so I'm no help to you. You might check with Wardeh at or Jenny at they both have extensive LF experience. Hope you can find an answer!

  21. Rita

    >Your post was very helpful. I had tried kimchi recently and it came out fabulous, so I have been looking into other lacto fermentation projects. Based on your very positive "review" I decided to make preserved lemons when I found some organic ones on sale. I can't wait to try them!

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