The Way to BE

Raw Cultured Vegetables

We now present two of the Diet's special, signature foods: "super" foods that contribute immensely to healing and building your inner ecosystem. On this page, raw cultured vegetables, then, read about kefir from the water of young green coconuts.

*From the 9th edition Body Ecology Diet, by Donna Gates.*

Cultured vegetables are made by shredding cabbage or a combination of cabbage and other vegetables and then packing them tightly into an airtight container. They are left to ferment at room temperature for several days or longer. Friendly bacteria naturally present in the vegetables quickly lower the pH, making a more acidic environment so the bacteria can reproduce. The vegetables become soft, delicious, and somewhat "pickled."

The airtight container can be glass or stainless steel. Use a 1 to 1½ quart container that seals with a rubber or plastic ring and a clamp down lid. Room temperature means 72 degrees Fahrenheit, for at least 3 days. We prefer to let ours sit for six or seven days. You can taste them at different stages and decide for yourself.

In the winter months if your kitchen temperature falls below 70 degrees, wrap the container in a towel and place it inside an insulated or thermal chest. In the summer months the veggies culture faster. They may be ready in just three or four days.

During this fermentation period, the friendly bacteria are having a heyday, reproducing and converting sugars and starches to lactic acid. Once the initial process is over, it is time to slow down the bacterial activity by putting the cultured veggies in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows the fermentation, but does not stop it completely. Even if the veggies sit in your refrigerator for months, they will not spoil; instead they become more like fine wine, more delicious with time. Properly made, cultured vegetables have at least an eight month shelf life.

While it is not necessary to add a "starter culture" to your vegetables, we recommend that you do it just to ensure that your vegetables begin fermenting with a hardy strain of beneficial bacteria. Body Ecology s Cultured Vegetable Starter contains a very robust bacterium called L. Plantarum. (See our recipes below.)

Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor

Once you master the basic technique, be creative. Try different vegetable combinations, and include dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collards. Soak, drain, and chop up some ocean vegetables like dulse, wakame, hijiki, and arame. Add your favorite herbs (dried or fresh), seeds (dill or caraway), and juniper berries. Even lemon juice can be added to the "brine." Try leaving out the cabbage all together and making a batch of cultured daikon.

Cynthia Hamilton, a friend of Donna s who lives in Los Angeles, teaches classes on how to make cultured vegetables, and she also sells them, calling them a "probiotic salad". Cynthia recently surprised Donna with a new recipe using kohlrabi, celery, garlic, ginger, and a green apple. It tastes wonderful! Don t be afraid of the little bit of sugar in the green apple. The microflora use it for food. The sugar will be long gone before you eat the cultured veggies. If you create a great new recipe you want to share with others on the B.E.D. around the world, please write or email us and we will happily post it on our Web site.

You may be thinking that making cultured veggies amounts to a big hassle. Well, it is possible to buy them commercially (see our Shopping List), but store-bought amounts can be fairly small and too costly for many people. You wouldn t be getting the "therapeutic amounts" you reap by making your own. So here s a suggestion: plan a "CV Party" with your family and friends. Gather on a weekend afternoon to laugh together, chop and pack the veggies. Make sure everyone leaves with enough containers to last until the next party. You and your loved ones will enjoy many meals of one of the most medicinal and economical foods you ll ever eat.

Two of Our Favorite Beginners Recipes

One important secret to making really delicious yet medicinal cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry. Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.

Version 1

  • 3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped by hand(optional): 2 cups wakame ocean vegetables (measured after soaking), drained, spine removed, and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dill seed

Version 2

  • 3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
  • 6 carrots, large, shredded in a food processor
  • 3 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

To make Cultured Vegetables

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Remove several cups of this mixture and put into a blender.
  3. Add enough filtered water to make a "brine" the consistency of a thick juice. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well.
  4. Pack mixture down into a 1½ quart glass or stainless steel container. Use your fist, a wooden dowel, or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly.
  5. Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
  6. Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight "log" and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 inch space. Clamp jar closed.
  7. Let veggies sit at about a 70 degree room temperature for at least three days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!

To use Body Ecology's Culture Starter:

Dissolve one or two packages of starter culture in 1½ cup warm (90*) water. Add aproximately 1 tsp. of some form of sugar to feed the starter (try Rapadura, Sucanat, honey, Agave, or EcoBLOOM). Let starter/sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar. Add this starter culture to the brine (step 3).

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  • barbara

    What goes into the brine?

  • Valerie

    May I add salt and spices to give flavor?

  • Kristin Heaberlin

    I am on my second purchase of "spicy cultured veggies" from Trader Joes. Can the brine be reused that is leftover in the veggie container. There is about 1 cup left."

  • zootal

    I've been making kimchi and kimchi variants for many years. I have learned over time that it is not necessary to let them ferment on the counter for several days. I put mine directly in the fridge, where the fermentation process moves along just fine. After about a week they are fermented to the point of being edible - less if using soft produce like apples or cucumbers. And if you want to try a delicacy, take a tablespoon of the juice from your jar of kimchi, chop an apple, mix, eat. Amazing!

  • Paul

    Sylvia Narcisco

    It is common to have gas/blotting after eating to much fermented food. it has little to do with it being the cabbage or the carrots. This is a side effect, it is commonly referred to as die off syndrome. It is caused by the good bacteria killing off the candida yeast, bad bacteria and pathogens. It is recommended to reduce the amount you eat, this will reduce the side effects. Increase the amount as your body becomes accustomed to eating lacto-fermented veggies. Do not worry about the sugar content in the veggies it will be long gone as the good bacteria use it to feed on; this is what causes it to produce vast amounts of gas in the first stage of fermenting (bubbling).

  • Vikki Evers

    I make kimchi using umeboshi vinegar (which is not really a vinegar, but is salty) and it is so easy, especially if you have a japanese pickle press. Here's the recipe: 2 lbs napa sliced and core removed, 1 large carrot grated, 4 scallions sliced, 4 garlic cloves minced, 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger minced, pinch of cayenne, 1/4 c. ume vinegar (or 2T. celtic sea salt if you prefer not to use the ume vinegar). Wash and spin dry the cabbage and mix all ingredients in a large bowl, massaging the ume vinegar into the mixture (if you have a pickle press just put it straight into it without this step). Put a weighted plate on the mixture and let sit for 3-7 days at room temperature (or tighten the screw mechanism on the press as it releases the liquid), until it tastes sufficiently tangy and has released quite a lot of liquid. Pack in sterile wide mouth jars making sure the liquid covers the vegetables, and store in the fridge. A small amount is so tasty with many different dishes. Would love to hear how it works for you. I try to make enough when the vegetables are available in your garden or from the farmers market to last through the winter.

  • Kay

    I've made my first batch with the starter culture, and, even if I do say so myself, it's been a rousing success! I'd like to make my second batch using the first batch as the starter culture, and I'm planning simply to mix in 32 oz. of the first batch into batch 2. Has anyone tried this? Any guidance would be appreciated!

  • Rachel

    I learned how to make sauerkraut using the BE method about 5 years ago - so I've made many many batches over the years. Like any recipe I initially followed the instructions religiously (and was nervous to deviate) . However, over the years with experience & learning more about cultured veggies I've developed my own method that turns out every time. First off you don't have to worry about scalding equipment - just clean is fine. And I Just rinse the veggies in water. Remember the art of culturing veggies goes back literally thousands of years long before sterilization. It was once common to just put the veggies in a pit in the ground & cover it - so don't stress. I do like using the BE culture & I also add 1 TBSP of sea salt & about 1/2 cup of soaked seaweed. I once had the privilege of seeing Donna Gates live & she said that she often puts in a little salt into hers. Salt will keep it crisper & a little definitely helps. I've found you don't need to blend a brine if you don't want to - I don't - extra work. Just firmly press the veggies down & make sure they are wet & submerged - that is very important. I do love the BE tip of rolled cabbage on the top to keep it pressed down. Also, you might want to check out the book Art of Fermentation book for further tips & ideas. I add all kinds of veggies, seeds & some herbs. Have fun & experiment.

  • joy

    Use salt. Will prevent soggy veg. And salt will keep bad bacteria from forming. I do 1 and 1/2 tbs of hjmalyan sea salt for cabbage head, works dont need the starter AT ALL!!!! Just salt. I have made MANY batches and eat at every meal.sterilize air tight container nnd run prep materials under hot water.

  • David

    Great article and discussion! Trying to strike a balance between the need to clean the vegetables while at the same time not interfere with the naturally occuring bacteria, does anyone have tips on cleaning? Just use filtered water and rub? How about if you're using non-organic and the possible pesticide issue? Would the water be enough?

  • Susan Duerksen

    Twice now I've made batches of your 2nd beginner's recipe, using Body Ecology Culture Starter and EcoBLOOM, and both times the fermentation bubbled and looked great but as soon as I opened the jars, the veggies sank into a soggy, foul-tasting mess. We used sealed clamp jars and even sterilized everything the second time. I had successfully made a batch earlier that we loved, so I know what the result should be. Seeing many similar experiences in the comments here, I'm wondering if there may have been a problem with a batch of the starter or EcoBloom?

    Any other ideas? Can someone tell us measurements for the amount of veggies and water that go into the brine, for instance?

  • Brendan Gill

    You say use stainless steel or glass. I would like to know if a pressure cooker, which I believe to be cast aluminum, may be used?

  • les haINES


  • Carol

    If your vegies are molding you need to check your seal. Rubber rings and a good tight seal keep it from getting gross and moldy. If you put to much in it could push its self out but more likely it is a bad seal.

  • Bettyjane

    I tried to make version 2 of CV, opened it today after 1 week of fermenting, and the whole batch is covered in mold. Disgusting. I don't know what went wrong?

  • Jen

    Can you use a previous batch of cultured vegetables to use as starter for more veggies, or do you have to use the starter each time? If you can use the previous batch, what ratio of cultured to non-cultured do you use?

  • Judith Hamilton

    Hi, It would be helpful to identify expert comments/feedback in a separate type-face or colour so that readers can appreciate whether the comments were from fellow "Veg culturers" or BE certified consultants.
    There is a wealth of information here and many excellent comments but it takes some wading through

  • Debra

    I'm interested in why the containers need to be either glass or stainless steel? I have food grade cambro plastic containers. I've made cortido in it before and I'm testing a big batch of cultured veggies as we speak sitting on top of my commercial range with the pilot light on which makes it warm. I used bags of already chopped and cleaned organic greens, a kale salad blend, some broccoli slaw and himalayan pink sea salt.

  • Lee


    although i do find your comment helpful ' The only vegetables which are fit for human consumption are tender green leafy vegetables '

    at the same time i find it misleading for a lot of people including myself that have no issues with eating cabbage and carrots etc. just because you had issues like you did after eating them doesnt mean everyone else will, everyones digestive system is different and some are in worse states than others!

    i can imagine how your statement will scare others into not making cultured recipes including carrots, cabbage etc.

    its time we put down books from so called nutritional experts and eat whatever veg we want and then listen to our bodies.

  • Norene Mackley

    Do veggies like carrots and beets etc. need to be peeled first? And what about salt? My first batch of CV turned out great. The second one was slimy and I threw it out even though it didn't smell bad. Somehow the thought of eating slimy food seemed wrong! I read somewhere else that if it was slimy it shouldn't be eaten. Several sites also recommended salt to keep other bad bacteria from multiplying. I am finding that we need to use care in how we do this culturing. It is discouraging to waste that many vegetables so apparently there is more to this than just shredding a few veggies and letting them sit for a few days! My biggest concern is how do we keep the bad bacteria from multiplying also. I try to clean the veggies well. Maybe salt is necessary. Sea salt of course!

  • Carrie

    Hi there,

    I see lots of questions posted on the body ecology site, but not that may answers from the experts. I think it would be valuable for users of this site (including those who currently invest in BED products) to see some responses from the folks in the know. While the articles are great, they still leave room for some queries from customers (and potential customers). And as we all know, a good portion of business is about keeping the customer needs at the fore.

    Thanks and hope to start seeing some informative answers soon!

  • Skye Morrison

    I have just made a batch of cultured veggies for the first time, using the cabbage, carrot mix, after two days I have noticed liquid coming out of the jar, which I know is normal, but I can smell them fermenting is this normal? The smell is the smell of rotten vegetables.

  • Ryan

    Laura it doesnt say anything about salt in these recipes does it? Am I missing something?

  • Margaret

    Jack wrote: I would like to make some whole dill pickles. The directions for the Culture Starter do not address this usage, only shredded vegetables. Is the culture starter suitable for this purpose?

    I've made cucumber pickles a couple of times. It is better if you use the little "kirby" cucumbers, and use smaller ones. (It is even better if you can bear to slice them in half.) If you use the whole kirby's, I find it better to slice off a bit of the top and the bottom, so that the flavoring will go in (you're using some kind of spices, right?). If you slice your cucumbers in half, most authorities recommend that you put in a grape leaf, but I have seen putting in a tea leaf (where do you get a whole tea leaf?), to keep the pickles crisp. What I'd recommend you do is make a small jar of whole pickles and another small jar of halved pickles, both with the seasonings you want to use, and see how you feel about them. If they are good for you, then forget about the leaf (I've never used one, but then I am a lazy chewer). If you need a crisper pickle, start searching for grape leaves ( greek markets? on-line?)

  • Margaret

    Marion asked: I'm not sure I've made the cultured vegetables correctly. They are sitting and fermenting but they are bubbling and liquid is coming out of the lids. They are making a lot of noise. I checked to make sure the lids are on tightly and they are (I used glass mason jars). Can anyone help me?

    That noise, bubbling, and liquid escaping the 2-part lids is all good! It means that your ferment is happening! I usually put my jars in bowls to catch the escaping liquid -- that way if I miss the hissing and bubbling and seeing the liquid come out, I can check the bowl after 2 days and see if there is liquid there, to know that my cultures live!

  • Marion

    I'm not sure I've made the cultured vegetables correctly. They are sitting and fermenting but they are bubbling and liquid is coming out of the lids. They are making a lot of noise. I checked to make sure the lids are on tightly and they are (I used glass mason jars). Can anyone help me?

  • Neeraj Kakar

    Hi Sylvia,
    The vegetables carrot and cabage are rough on the system due to their high cellulose (insoluble fiber) which is very rough on the system. I myself found constipated and bloating with even cooked carrots! Ihave 4 years of experience on vegetables.

    The only vegetables which are fit for human consumption are tender green leafy vegetables (Spinach, mustard greens, lettuce) (soulble fiber) are other tender greens. Humans have a delicate digestive system and its not meant for rough vegetables like (Brocolli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and so on). Try to read the Book 80 10 10 by Graham Douglas.

  • Joel

    Judith, I know how you feel. Look at, he has a lot of good, solid advice that I followed and it really helped. You're in the right spot looking at fermentation though :) Good luck!

  • Jack

    I would like to make some whole dill pickles. The directions for the Culture Starter do not address this usage, only shredded vegetables. Is the culture starter suitable for this purpose?

  • jane

    hello, I have been making batch after batch of cultured food as my garden has done very well, my problem is I have no root cellar and my refrigerator will soon be full. Is there another way to store it, say freezing or water bath canning without damaging the beneficial bacteria?
    thanks Jane

  • Christine

    This is the first time I have made cultured vegetables. I did grated carrots and have left them in a dark cupboard at 69 - 72 degrees for 8 days. They are still fermenting, because I can see a few bubbles. At what stage do I put them in the fridge? Do I have to wait for the bubbles to stop?

  • Miriam

    What is the difference between pickled foods and fermented foods? Do you ever make fermented foods with vinegar?

  • Mariam K

    I wanna try to make the cultured vegetables, but it is stated that it should be kept at 70 degree room temperature, is that in Fahrenheit or Celsius? If its Fahrenheit then I live int he middle east and during summer our temperature rise upto 107 F and above, would the veggies then ferment at a shorter period?

  • Nick

    The veggies will give you gas for the first 3 days or so, depending on your situation (if you have a lot of digestive issues going on, parasites, extreme overgrowth of yeasts) but if you follow the diet correctly you'll notice the gas will fade overtime. The gas is caused from the candida and bacteria dying off, hence while you will see dramatic improvement if you follow it correctly. Carrots wont feed candida, even raw they are okay on Phase 1 of the diet, cultured the sugars are used as a prebiotic to feed the healthy bacteria.

  • Lonna

    I've had the cabbage, carrot, ginger veggie mix and it was SO good wtih my food. One thing that intrigues me from the article above is that it creates Lactic Acid? Now is this the same Lactic Acid that we don't want in our muscles or it causes soreness? I have Fibromyalgia and I haven't had enough to notice the difference in my muscle areas yet.

  • Terri

    where can I buy CV in Utah?

  • Martin Matej

    Thank you very much for the recipe! ;)

  • Gretchen

    Sylvia Narcisco....I am not a B.E.D specialist, but I might be able to give you some insight or at least a thought to consider. Carrots have much sugar. This sugar feeds candida in your gut which might be causing the excess gas. If you haven't read her book yet, check it out. It explains everything in wonderful detail. I hope this helps you. My cultured veges are much easier to digest for me if I let them ferment for 7-10 days.

  • Anna

    For those of you with questions, I suggest to reinforce this by looking up Youtube clips that demonstrate how to make them.

  • Susan

    I would like to see these questions being answered. We have questions , and would appreciate if someone would answer them. I believe for rooms over 72 or higher, you can put them in a cooler with an ice pack to keep it at 70-72 degrees. I read that somewhere.

  • Sylvia Narcisco

    Help! The cultured vegtables (cabbage & carrots) that I made seem to cause alot of gas. They aren't exactly soft like you describe they are more crispy although they are sour and a beautiful bright color. Could it be that they haven't fermented completely? I used your culture starter & Eco Bloom. They fizzed up quite a bit the first 48 hrs. They just seem to cause excessibe bloating. Did I prepare them wrong, possibly not let them ferment long enough? I don't see any bubbles in the jars anymore.

  • Christine Grasso

    I am working with Phase 1 of the diet for myself and a client. I made version 1 of the raw cultured veggies listed above. They came out very soggy and the taste is quite pungent. I had made another version of cultured cabbage with salt from Tom Malterre, Whole LIfe Nutrition Cookbook. That one came out good, just a little too salty.
    This recipe yields an enormous batch. You don't just need a large bowl to combine all the veggies, you need the largest stockpot you have. It took me hours to do. I have so much now, I don't know that I will get through all of them and they don't taste good enough to give to clients.
    Is there any way to correct the sogginess? Would salt help? Is it that this is an acquired taste and that's why it seems so pungent? The cabbage leaves rolled on top were brown and gross, so I threw them away. What about the kale? The color is pretty gross, a brownish-green. How do you know they are ok to eat? They certainly fermented because they fizzed and bubbled when I opened them after 2 days.
    I liked the sauerkraut I made from Tom Malterre and the raw cultured veggies I have purchased in the store.
    Any tips?

  • linda

    I live in Hawaii and my house is seldom at 70-72 degrees. I don't see any info on if cultured veggies will work at 76-77 degrees

  • Judy

    I cannot have dairy. Can I use the cultured vegetable starter to make coconut milk kefir? I am concerned about using the milk kefir grains.

  • Laura

    The reason your veges are soggy is because you didn't make the brine with enough salt. 2 teaspoons for 1 litre of water.

    You do not need to sterlise your jar, the salt sterlises it.

    This is the method they used before refrigeration so 99.9% your kitchen will not be too hot (such as Florida), it will last at least 6 months. You should put it in the fridge around 1 week but smell it and taste a little. If it's offensive, your senses will tell you whether to eat it or not.

    Hope that has helped some of you

  • http://no webiste Vineet

    Hi, by preparing culture veges we are basically getting the good bacteria.

    there is a very popular drink called as "yakult" available in market which is a pro-biotic drink.

    what could be the difference between cultured veges and yakult drink ?

  • Jane Wurzel

    Can the sauerkraut beheated or will that destroy the benefit? I would like to use it with pork or on a sandwich that is hot.

  • Melissa Cotran

    Is it possible to ferment green apple juice with the veggie starter or the keifer starter? If so, how long should I leave it to ferment?

  • Heather

    I remember reading in the book about a recipe with green apple, and now I can't seem to find it. Does anyone have it? Thanks!

  • Esti

    The room temperature in my kitchen during summer is between 85-95 degrees.
    Is it still doable to make cultured veggies during summer in Florida?
    Any solutions?
    I would really appreciate your suggestions.

  • Megan H

    Have a question about how long you can let the cultured veggies ferment at room temperature. I made a large batch of cv, and had them fermenting in a bin in my garage. I then had to go out of town for a month unexpectedly. My veggies will have been in the bin fermenting for a month. I am not home yet to check them, but will be in a day. Will they be spoiled and inedible?

    Thanks for any info!

  • Jamie

    I just made version 2 of the raw cultured veggies. After 7 days, the veggies seem kind of soggy. I've had raw cultured veggies previously in an Atlanta restaurant, and I don't recall them being this soggy.

    Is this right?

  • Mark

    Thanks, Ash! The link has been fixed.

  • Ash

    your starter culture link is not working properly.

  • Judith Summerson

    I'm lookinf for new ways to fight psoriasis and combat the illness that are associated with this issue.

  • Renee Greene

    Do I need to sterilize the container?

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