Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kohlrabi Hotsticks

This has to be one of the simplest ferment recipes ever; perfect for newbies!  It only has 4 ingredients: kohlrabi, water, salt, and red pepper flakes.

In the month since I published my FermenTroduction post, I've jumped headfirst into a whole new world. I've gathered a bunch of resources, and each night my bedside lamp burns until late hours, my ferment journal filling with notes. I may have fallen asleep a couple of times with a book about fermentation on my face.

Why am I becoming so immersed in this age-old technique of preserving and enhancing food? Is it really that interesting and awesome? Well, yeah, it is! I first became interested in fermenting three years ago when I read Wild Fermentation (click here to see my review of the book). That book really touched something in my soul. It may sound exaggerated, but it's true; the book tapped into emotions and topics far beyond food preservation. I'm not sure if it was the tie to my ancestors, who no doubt fermented many of their foods to get through the winter, or the way the book explored ideas about the connectedness of all life. Some books have a way of bringing things into focus when you least expect them to, and that was the case with Wild Fermentation. In the three years since I first read and the loved the book, I've only done a bit of dabbling with the actual fermenting itself. However, I recently received a set of tools from Fermentools to review, and suddenly I'm fermenting 5-6 different veggies at a time, and plan to always have ferments going from now on! The probiotics I'm able to grow in my own kitchen are working wonders in my gut, and I love having this simple technique on hand for preserving veggies from my garden.

Kohlrabi; One of our personal all-time favorite veggies to grow.
They are so easy to grow, and we love to eat them.

*Though I'm not an affiliate of, I have been testing their product and am just astounded by the quality they offer. I'm very confident sharing them with you. If you are fearful of fermenting and think some tools would give you a boost, they offer an affordable starter kit (click here).

Of all the recipes I've been brewing, this one has become a particularly instant success. I think all newbies will appreciate its simplicity. I've named them Kohlrabi Hotsticks (I really like catchy names to get my family to taste things!), and everyone approves of their mild tang.

Once the hotsticks are ready for the fridge (in my case, two weeks was perfect),
I top the jar with one of these lids especially made for mason jars. As you can see, I've eaten
a whole bunch of the sticks already. ;)

Since we grow and love kohlrabi, this recipe is perfect for us to preserve a bit of our harvest to last through the winter months. Kohlrabi's firm texture lends well to fermenting. Fortunately, kohlrabi has become increasingly easy to find in grocery stores and farmers' markets if you don't grow your own.

The first bite into one of these kohlrabi hotsticks is crisp and fresh, and then slowly, the slight tingle of heat covers your tongue and throat. I use the term 'heat' very lightly here; it's so mild my 6-year-old has no issue with it. This is a crisp, delightful, and just-perfectly hot snack to eat on its own or along with a meal. I've been opening the jar and taking a forkful of them out several times a day to munch on. These hotsticks are going into the permanent fermentation rotation!

The beauty of fermentation is that you can experiment. If you think you can handle more heat, by all means, add more pepper flakes. This base recipe, though, is a keeper in my family! I hope you get to try it and enjoy the taste of the spicy sticks as much as we do.

I love using a mandoline to cut the kohlrabi; first, into slices...

...then each slice into matchsticks. Use EXTREME caution when using a mandoline;
I find it to be one of the most terrifying tools in the kitchen, even if it is one of my favorites!

Kohlrabi Hotsticks         Print Recipe

a naturally fermented snack with mild heat

1 glass quart jar with lid
2-3 kohlrabi (12-15 oz after peeling)
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. salt (sea salt is best...just don't use iodized table salt)
2 cups non-chlorinated water (I use tap water that I've let sit out overnight. The chlorine evaporates.)

*Make sure you start with clean hands, knives, cutting boards and jars. You want beneficial microbes to grow in your ferment without any competition.

1. In a bowl or large measuring cup, dissolve the salt in the water and set aside.

2. Peel the kohlrabi (if the leaves are in decent shape, save them for a stir fry--they are delicious!). Using a mandoline will allow you to achieve really nice, uniform sticks by making thick slices, and then cutting the thick slices into fries. You can absolutely use a good chef's knife to cut your peeled kohlrabi into sticks; just be cautious as kohlrabi can be tough to slice through.

3. Pack the kohlrabi sticks into the quart jar, making sure to leave at least an inch of headroom at the top of the jar. I used 2 good-sized kohlrabi.

4. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes over the kohlrabi, then pour the brine into the jar. Leave an inch of headspace at the top the jar, and also make sure there is enough brine to completely submerge the veggies when you press down on them with your weight (if two cups of brine is not enough, you can make a little more brine. Start with a half cup water and dissolve 3/4 t. into it, then add to jar.

5. Use a weight to keep the kohlrabi sticks under the brine, and put a lid on your jar. The pepper flakes will tend to float, and that's ok, they don't usually cause an issue. I have tried putting the flakes in the bottom of the jar before packing in the kohlrabi, but they still make their way to the top.

You can use a variety of weights (including a large clean rock, or a baggie filled with brine). I keep it super simple by using tools (I love the glass weights and stainless steel lids from fermentools). Place your container aside where it won't be bothered much (no direct sunlight please), and let it ferment away! If you are using a lid without an airlock, 'burp' it each day by loosening the lid and then re-tightening it. If you have an airlock, you can just forget about it for a few days, because it will prevent pressure from building.

6. Start tasting your hotsticks after three or four days. The taste will deepen and develop more of a sour fermented tang as it ferments. I found the taste perfect after 4 weeks. Once the flavor is how you like it, place the jar in the fridge (if you are using airlocks, remove them before putting into the fridge).

ENJOY! Your fermented hotsticks will stay good in the fridge for months, but I really, really doubt they will last that long. :)

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links. I'm eligible to receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links. Click Here for my full disclosure!


  1. YUM! How cool! Are you still growing kohlrabi? Mine all froze. :(

    1. Christina, my kohlrabi are done for this year. I was able to use the very last of the harvest to make these (I picked them in early November and had them fermenting in this recipe within a couple of days). Fresh kohlrabi from the garden is one of the things I look forward to every summer! :)