Delicious fermented mustard greens have a spicy, yet funky flavor and are perfect when eaten next to a side of rice or added to soups!
I haven’t fermented mustard greens until one day I found myself standing in front of them at the market wondering how they would taste in a ferment.
Fermenting unique things is right up my alley; while I wasn’t sure about mustard greens, it didn’t take long to realize that they are popular in Chinese markets. The preserved vegetable can be added to soup, as a side to rice plates and eaten much similar to American sauerkraut.
While I haven’t seen them here in our American markets, you might be able to find them in Chinese markets in preserved pouches. The pouches run on the smaller size, with some fermented mustard greens, added food coloring and more than likely, some MSG. Depending on the ferment process, they might also have a mild flavor.
If you really can’t get a hold of them at your market, it’s best to make fermented mustard greens yourself. You can control the flavor profile by adding what garlic and chile suits your taste.
Selecting Mustard Greens
The hardest part of making fermented mustard greens is finding the right mustard greens at the supermarket. You’ll want to look for gai choy in the produce department of your Chinese market. Sometimes gai choy is sold in pre-packaged bags. You’ll want to grab those that have a large bulbous bottom.
If you can’t find those, then you can use the regular mustard greens although the flavor profile won’t be quite as rich as if you were using the gai choy.
Fermented Mustard Greens
When fermenting mustard greens, you want to make sure to pack the vegetables into the jar carefully. All the solids should be submerged under the brine.
Some people use a rice brine to activate fermentation in fermented mustard greens. I find that the ferment starts relatively quickly without the rice brine. The salt is important in the ferment so don’t hold back. Though …too much salt will inhibit the fermenting process.
I like to shove a jelly jar in the mouth of the large, wide mouth canning jar to keep the mustard greens, garlic and chile submerged. You could also use a ziploc bag filled with a small amount of water to push the contents of the jar under the brine as well.
Top with your 3 pc airlock or these silicone fermenting lids.
How long to ferment?
Fermenting depends on the room temperature and the vegetable. These mustard greens can ferment anywhere from 3-7 days in a cool spot. Choose a dark pantry, hall closet or push to the rear of the counter.
Taste them after the desired date and determine if they are ready. Then move to cooler temps (refrigerator) where they will continue to develop their flavors over time. Eat them as a side next to your rice or main dish, or toss in your favorite soup recipe.
Fermented Mustard Greens
- Fermenting lids
- Wide mouth quart canning jar
- 1 lb mustard greens
- 4 garlic cloves peeled
- 4 Thai chiles
- 4 C cold water
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- Chop the greens into large bite-size pieces. Rinse them in your colander and drain. Pat dry with a clean towel.
- Layer the greens in a large bowl with the garlic and chiles. Sprinkle with the sea salt and lightly cover. Let sweat for 15-20 minutes (the mustard greens will release their natural juices).
- Transfer the salted greens, garlic and chile to a wide mouth quart canning jar. Press down to reveal some of the natural juice. Top off with non-chlorinated water (room temperature). Use a fermentation weight to keep everything submerged under the brine.
- Attach your airlock or silicone fermenting lid. Allow to ferment at room temp for 5-7 days. Once the greens are fermented appropriately, store in the refrigerator. Over time they will become more flavorful (garlic and chile flavors).
If you give this recipe a try, please leave a comment, rate the recipe and be sure to tag me on Instagram!