Anyone who is a fan of pickled and fermented foods will love this pickled Brussels sprouts recipe. Nicknamed “sauersprouts,” they are acidic, mildly spicy, and complex in flavor.
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- ½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
- 2.5 tablespoons pickling salt
- 1 dried chile pepper (I used a chile de arbol), more for spicier sprouts
- ½ tablespoon mustard seed
- ½ tablespoon dill seed
- 1 garlic clove
- Quart-sized mason jar
- 2.5 cups unchlorinated soft water for brine
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (5%)
Yield: 1 quart
- Thoroughly wash and dry mason jar with hot, soapy water.
- Cut off any stems, remove blemished outer leaves, and wash Brussels sprouts.
- Boil in salted water for 4 minutes. Drain and cool.
- Place half of dill, mustard, and onions on bottom of mason jar.
- Add Brussels sprouts, remaining dill, mustard and onion, chili pepper, and garlic clove. Make sure you leave at least an inch and a half of space between the top of the vegetables and the top of the jar. Depending on the size of your sprouts, you may have to remove a couple so everything can be fully submerged.
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in vinegar and 2 cups water. No need to boil. Pour into jar. Make sure the sprouts are completely submerged with about a half inch of brine. This should leave about an inch of space between the top of the brine and the top of the jar.
- Run a plastic or wooden spoon or chop stick around the inside of the jar to release any air pockets.
- Place Ziploc bag containing ½ cup water and ½ tbsp salt on top of Brussels sprouts to fully submerge/weight them down and to create a seal around jar rim. The bag is filled with brine so that in case the bag leaks, it will not ruin proportions of brine in jar. Cover jar with towel.
- Store where temperature is between 70° and 75°F for about 2 to 4 weeks to ferment. Temperatures of 55° to 65°F are ok but fermentation will take 5 to 6 weeks. Avoid temps above 80°F or sprouts may become too soft.
- Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. Caution: If the Brussels sprouts become slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them.
- Fermented Brussels sprouts can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months provided any scum that develops is removed. Canning would be a better option if you’re not lazy like I am.
- Here are the flavor profiles throughout the fermentation process. I like a strong tasting, 4-week sprout but you may want to refrigerate after 2 or 3 weeks.
1 week of fermentation: Slightly acidic, firm, very mild spiciness, minimal flavor, don’t recommend
2 weeks of fermentation: Medium acidity, moderately firm, mild spiciness, subtly complex flavor, could be eaten/stored at this stage if you like firmer, mild Brussels sprouts
3 weeks of fermentation: Similar taste to week 2, slightly more complex flavor, good dill flavor, softer sprouts, I recommend eating/storing at this stage
4 weeks of fermentation…Super complex flavor, almost funky, strong dill taste, very acidic, mild spiciness, I recommend eating/storing them here if you like a bold sprout.
- I ended up not leaving enough space between the brine and top of the jar initially, which caused me to lose some liquid. This was caused mostly by the displacement of the brine filled bag, but could have also been caused by sprout expansion or bubbling over during fermentation. The loss in brine left me with some sprouts that weren’t fully submerged. I ended up having to add more brine to the Ziploc bag about a week in to push the sprouts under the brine. It’s definitely important to leave adequate head space initially.
- Next time, I would add another chile or two. It just didn’t have the spiciness I was initially after.
I based this recipe off a combination of the fermented dill pickles recipe and the pickled Brussels sprouts recipe from the USDA’s Guide to Home Canning. I used recipes from this guide to make sure I was using proper, tested proportions.
I’m not sure why they added the little bit of vinegar to their fermented dill pickles recipe, but I’m guessing it’s for both flavor and to boost the bad bacteria fighting properties of the brine. In any case, I followed their lead in my recipe.
I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear your comments and suggestions!