Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

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Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot.

As I sit down to write about making my own fermented vegetable stock, a weak winter sun peers through the pines opposite. It doesn’t even clear the tops in these long dark days, and in this Northumbrian frost pocket, warming food is called for. Tim’s just come in from the garden rubbing his hands that have gone white with cold on the ends. He’s been pruning the apple trees. ‘Soup’s ready, I say’.

It’s a lentil soup today, make with a tablespoon of fermented vegetable stock, leeks, carrots, celery and red lentils. I wrote last week about the basics of soup making in Seasonal Eating with Warming Winter Soups, with a recipe for Parsnip and Chestnut Soup, but as promised then, today I’m going to talk about the stock.

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

If you open the fridge, you’ll find a jar I call the ‘fizzing stock pot’. It’s a jar of fermented vegetables blitzed to a fine paste that has been allowed to ferment with the addition of salt water.

The ancients used fermentation as a way of preserving food and drink before fridges came on the scene. Here’s the science: there is controlled microbial growth and enzyme action in fermented foods that simply put, change some of the food’s parts into others. Microorganisms, bacteria, yeast or fungi convert organic substances like sugars and starch into alcohol or acids which act as natural preservatives as well as enhance the taste and texture.

Fermented foods have a distinctive strong, salty, slightly sour taste. If you watched the Hairy Bikes ‘Go Local In Northumberland’ last night, you’ll have seen them visit Belle and Herbs Fermentary in Wallsend and talk about fermented foods and their kimchi in particular. We are lucky to have both Bell and Herbs and Meraki Cacao from last night’s programme come to Hexham Farmer’s Market.

Health Benefits of Fermented Food

  1. Fermentation gives us probiotics from bacteria which can restore the balance of bacteria in your gut, supporting digestive health.
  2. Fermented food is easy to digest as some of the natural sugars and starches are already broken down.
  3. The vitamins and minerals produced by fermented food are easier to absorb,
  4. Understanding of the link between gut health and mood and behaviour is an evolving science. It is believed that some of the strains of probiotic bacteria found in fermented foods can help with anxiety and depression, and may produce cortisol, minimising the physical symptoms of stress.
  5. Fermented foods can reduce blood pressure and address cholesterol balance, improving heart health.

That’s quite enough explanation of fermented foods for one week. Back to our stock pot!

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Packaging and transportation besides, most commercially produced vegetable stock contains additives that I don’t want in my food. Once you start making your own fermented veg stock, you’ll soon realise how much the taste not to mention the health benefits of your soup is enhanced by it. And it’s easy to make! You’ll need a jar with an airtight lid.

Ingredients for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Ingredients for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot


I don’t want to be too prescriptive here – use what you have in! Experiment and don’t be too exact!

In this latest batch of stock, we used:

Onions – a medium-sized brown and small red

3 sticks celery

2 carrots

A slice of celeriac

½ small parsnip (we find the taste of parsnip can be overpowering is too much is used)

Couple cloves garlic

A few leaves each of parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary

A pinch of pink peppercorns and a couple of black,

½ tsp each of coriander, fennel and cumin seeds

Sea salt.

2 large or 3-4 small bay leaves

Chopped vegetables for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Chopped vegetables for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot


Roughly chop all the veg and blitz in a food processor with the green herbs.

Pestle and Mortar for grinding spices for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Pestle and Mortar for grinding spices for Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Dry fry the spices and seeds in a small pan over low heat then grind with a pestle and mortar, coffee grinder or whatever you have to hand. A lump hammer might have to suffice!

Mix into the veggies.

Weigh the mixture and calculate what 4% of this is – ie if you have 100g, then you will need 4g of salt. Add 4% of the weight in salt and mix well. Pack into the jar until the paste comes about half an inch or 1cm from the top. Cover with bay leaves.


Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Fermented Vegetable Stock Pot

Press down on the bay leaves to get a briny liquid from the sea salt and veggies. If this doesn’t appear, make a bit of brine yourself  – 2g sea salt and 50ml water should do the trick.

Pop the lid on and stand on a small plate or saucer.

We now pop it in our airing cupboard. It needs to be somewhere warm but not hot: ‘room temperature’ but here at Bridge Cottage most rooms are Baltic by day!

Leave it now for a few days. You can leave it for over a week. Once it starts fizzing, you may want to ‘burp’ it from time to time to release any built-up gas. (Nowt worse than trapped wind).

The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavour. Once you are happy with the taste, pop it in the fridge to stop it from fermenting further.

As a rough guestimate, (followers of the Bridge Cottage Way know I’m not one for exact measurements) use about a tablespoon of fermented stock in a pan of soup or stew.


As I type, I’m sipping on a glass of homemade kombucha, another fermented favourite here at Bridge Cottage, so while we’re talking fermented foods, I’ll make that the next post. Look out on social media for that coming up next week.

Fermented hot chilli sauce

Fermented hot chilli sauce

Other posts on fermented food:
Make Your Own Fermented Hot Chilli Sauce

Homemade Yoghurt and Soft Cheese


Thank you so much for reading, and happy fermenting.

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You might enjoy some of the writing and ideas in other sections of this website, as we look towards leading more sustainable lives by growing our own food and creating dishes in line with seasonal eating, or head to our handy ‘Month by Month’ guides to find out what we have been doing here at Bridge Cottage as the months go by:

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Tim & Sue in the Bridge Cottage Way garden

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