Wild and Lazy Fermentation

Food Waste Prevention Pickles

Nice stems, girl!

Spring is a fickle mistress, is she not?  I was tempted to use harsher words to describe her, but alas, I don’t want her to stay away any longer than she already has.  I think it’s been two weeks since my bulbs started poking out of the ground.  One warm, rainy afternoon, I had the rush of seeing anemones, daffodils and tulips all forming tight buds in the containers I planted them in last fall.  Now they do not look so good.  A few nights of frost and some freaking snow have closed them all back up tight, and some are even laying their heads down in the soil.  Grrrrrrr.

While I can not say enough horrible things about the weather ruining my autumn efforts there is one benefit to the continued cold weather: cold tolerant vegetables.  I love them so much.  Cabbage, kale, collards, chard, whatever you got, I’m buying (or growing, as the case may be).  While cabbage ferments beautifully (see also: sauerkraut and kimchi) some of those thinner-leaved friends tend to break down pretty quickly in the fermentation process.  However, if you’re using the leaves for another purpose (like kale chips) or making a salad for a fussy eater and decide to cut out the ribs, there is no need to add those ribs to your compost pile.  The ribs ferment like champs and happily, pickling them can be a weapon in your arsenal against our abysmal food waste rate.  You can pair these pickles with whatever seasonings you would eat the finished product with.  I’m pretty mustard seed happy with my pickles, and I think those work particularly well with kale and collard ribs, but let your tongue decide.

Collard Rib Pickles:

The yield here is pretty small, unless you are intentionally deboning your leafy greens for this purpose.  A wide-mouthed pint jar is more than adequate for a the ribs of a couple large bunches of kale, collards or dandelion greens.  My prefered brine is made with 1T salt to 2 c water.  You may like yours more or less salty, and you should feel free to adjust to your liking.


  • Ribs from 2 heads of kale/collards/chard or other green.  You can definitely mix and match
  • 1 c of brine or more if needed
  • 1/2 t whole spices of choice (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)

How To:

  1. Completely remove leaves from ribs.  Reserve leaves for another purpose.  I recommend this salad or my friend Alexis’ use: mash hummus and avocado together, roll some into a raw collard leaf.  Thank your lucky stars for allowing you to eat so well
  2. Chop ribs into 1-2 inch segments and place them in your fermentation vessel
  3. Cover ribs with brine
  4. Use the ghetto jar method (or your preferred method) to ensure that your pickles stay submerged in brine
  5. Allow 2 weeks or more for room-temperature fermentation.  When they reach your desired acidity, eat them or stick them in the fridge

These are great served as pickles, but I love putting them in a salad.  They blend in, so that crunchy tang is very unexpected.

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