How to Ferment Beets without Whey

lactofermented beets

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lacto fermentation of vegetables
lactofermented beets

How to ferment beets without whey? Beets are one of my favorite fermented foods, and I think one of the easiest to eat if you are new to ferments and haven’t yet developed the acquired taste.

I love watching my ferments bubbling into a superfood. Cabbage sauerkrauts can be quite strong flavored, but beet is much milder and has a sweetness to it.

I love to add beets to our diet because they are packed with great health benefits. This is a simple tasty recipe to ferment beets. Fermented beets pair well as a garnish on most everything, meat, salad, potatoes, and more.

The power of beets

Beets are high in nitrates, which is converted to the beneficial nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that can decrease blood pressure and improve oxygenation.

A study found nitrates from beetroot improves physical performance. Healthy athletes that ate beet root, outperformed those that did not eat beets [1].

The beet pigment, betalain, is found to be potent antioxidant. It is anti-inflammatory and has chemo-preventive activity in vitro and in vivo [2]. Research found beetroot reduced tumor formations [3]. When you ferment beets even more antioxidants are formed.

Health benefits of Beet Root

  • Improve oxygenation
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Boosts nitric oxide: can lower blood pressure, improve physical performance
  • Fights cancer
  • Nutrient dense: Vitamin C, Potassium, Manganese, Folate B Vitamin.
  • Detoxification: Beets help detoxification process of blood and liver [10]

Ferment Beets for Health Benefits

Studies have found lactofermented beets to be a very powerful healing food, containing powerful antioxidants betanidin and betanin. When beets are fermented it creates the additional powerful antioxidant betanidin, this antioxidant is not found in fresh beet juice [4].

A study found drinking lactofermented beetroot juice is not only a powerful antioxidant, but also improves our intestinal ecosystem and enzyme activity [5]. Meaning fermented beets are good for healthy bacterial flora in our digestive system.

All this is wonderful for everyone, and if you have any autoimmune condition it is a wonderfully supportive food to add to your diet. As those with autoimmune disease often have problems with oxygenation, inflammation, and detoxification.

It is a powerful detoxifier, which means go easy because detoxifying too quickly can make one feel really ill from toxin overload. Mercola recommends starting out with no more than one ounce, and even less if you are highly toxic [6].

Benefits of Lacto-fermentation

Lacto-fermented foods improve the nutrient content of food, and our ability to digest food so that we get the most out of what we eat. Fermented foods are also effective against intestinal infections, improving cholesterol, and fighting cancer [7].

Lactic acid producing bacteria is naturally on vegetables. Salt prevents bad bacteria from growing while the good bacteria produce enough lactic acid to preserve the fruit or vegetables [8].

The good bacteria feed on the natural sugars of the vegetable and produce lactic acid. So adding starter kits or whey is unnecessary, because the good bacteria is naturally already on the fruits or vegetables.

When you are new to ferments it seems kind of scary to let something sit out, but done right it is safe. Per the USDA fermented vegetables have an excellent safety record with no known foodborne illnesses reported [8].

Fermented vegetables are lower risk to eat than fresh vegetables, and can be stored up to one year unrefrigerated [9]. Though I have not personally left any ferment out this long, but good to know nonetheless if ever needed.

Basically, use common sense, it should not stink, feel slimy, and some say you can eat the white mold that forms. I personally do not, because it’s off-putting.

If you have fermented before you will find if things were not well submerged under the salty brine, then visible mold will be present.

I had this problem with some of my fermentation setups, but now I use glass weights with the silicone lids and I love it.

Best fermentation kit

I used pickle pipes in the past, but the tall stem is awkward and cleaning the pipe is difficult. I love these silicone lids, because they self burp and don’t take up much space. The glass weights keep everything nicely submerged under the brine. A very fuss free setup.

Supplies for Fermenting Vegetables

All you need to ferment vegetables or fruit is salt, water, and a system to keep everything submerged in the salty brine. Fermentation creates carbon dioxide. If you are fermenting in a jar with a sealed lid you will want to open the jar to let out the pressure daily.

A kit like the one above is my new favorite. It is self burping and easy to clean. I prefer glass weights to keep everything under the brine, and I love the short self burping silicone lids that are designed for mason jars.

A wooden pounder is handy, but I have gotten by for years with a wooden spoon to pack down the vegetables.

How much salt to ferment vegetables?

Per the UC Cooperative Extension, weight is the most accurate method for measuring out salt. They recommend a 3-5% salt brine, which as a rule of thumb equals about 2 tablespoons (roughly 3%)  to 3 tablespoons (roughly 5%) of salt per 1 quart of non-chlorinated water [8].

Some suggest 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. I generally just stick with 2 tablespoons of salt for most all my ferments.

How to Ferment Beets with Salt Recipe

Lactofermentation: Ferment Beets without whey 

5 large beets

2tb Celtic Sea Salt

1 quart non-chlorinated water (I love this water filter)

1 cinnamon stick

Directions to ferment beets:

Use good hygiene. Rinse all vegetables, make sure mason jar and lid is clean. Sterilizing is not necessary. Only use healthy looking vegetables. Don’t use veggies with soft or beat up spots.

In a separate jar mix, 1 quart of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and thoroughly mix. Set this aside and work on shredding, slicing, or dicing beets. Cut in whatever shape you desire.

Personally, I like shredded because it works well as a garnish. Salt will continue to dissolve while you work on shredding the beets.

Shred beets and place in a separate mason jar. Depending on the number of beets, stuff shredded beets into a pint or quart size mason jar. Then pour salt water into jar about 2/3 full and pack beets with a wooden spoon.

If you have the kit, it comes with a wooden pounder, this works the air bubbles out of your beets and packs down the veggies, and you will notice you need to add more brine. Add cinnamon stick.

Pour more brine onto your beets until its about 1.5” from the top, and use the pounder a little more to work out any remainig air bubbles. Add more brine as necessary to  completely submerge the beets

I then set my jar of beets in the sink, and drop in the glass weight. The excess brine overflows into the sink, then screw on the silicone lid, and wipe down the outside of the jar.

I like to write the date on my jar with an erasable marker, so I don’t forget how old it is.  Then place the jar in a dark cabinet in a pan lined with a towel. Storing it in a dark area is said to help preserve the vitamin c. The pan and towel is to catch any liquid that bubbles out from the release of carbon dioxide during the fermentation process.

I generally ferment for 4-5 days before transferring it to the refrigerator. The longer it stays out the more sour it becomes, so this is a matter of personal taste.

If your house is cool you may want to leave it out longer. My house is generally around 75 degrees.


I find beets to be among the easiest fermented vegetables to eat, because they are mildly sweet and not bitter. If you don’t yet have a palate for fermented foods and you are trying to add them to your diet for all their wonderful health benefits, beets is a good place to start.

Beets are quick and easily grow in the garden too, and this is an excellent way to preserve your beet harvest.

Beets are wonderfully therapeutic anyhow, and fermenting creates an additional powerful antioxidant that is good for your gut health. Which is so important with our modern day leaky gut problems.

Just be careful with eating too much, because beets are a powerful at detoxing.

You may want to start out with only eating an ounce per day. If you have a health condition then start with less, like a tablespoon, and slowly work your way up to more.

Fermenting is fun, I always get a strange thrill seeing my ferments with their beautiful colors bubbling away.

I feel like an accomplished mad scientist here is a good recipe book of beautiful fermentation recipes. What fermented foods do you like to eat or make?

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2 years ago

Does the lid have to be firmly fastened (air tight?) for it to properly ferment? If I use a mason jar, can I simply place the flat (not the ring) on top and leave it? It will essentially be self-burping since it’s not secured.

1 year ago

Thanks for the advice on fermenting beets. I don’t have a lot of free time to ferment beets on my own. Maybe I will look into getting fermented beet juice I can purchase online.


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