Purple Powerhouse Ferments

Ever heard the expression to eat the rainbow? There’s a reason behind that. The deeper the color of your food, the higher concentration of beneficial nutrients, like anti-oxidants. This post discusses fermenting those powerhouse foods for added benefit.

One of the most compelling reasons for fermenting vegetables is the probiotic-rich food that results from it. It seems nothing short of miraculous that something so simple would create a delicious and edible gift that’s so good for our bodies.

There is something even more amazing about fermented foods that you may not have realized; not only does the fermentation process create tons of probiotics, but the nutrients in foods can also be made more available to your body—sort of ‘unlocked.’ This is especially exciting when the foods you start with already have incredible health benefits.

Let’s take a look at three purple/red vegetables that when eaten raw have some very incredible benefits, and whose qualities only become more potent and powerful when fermented. In a way, you are creating your own ‘purple powerhouses’ when you ferment these healthy veggies!

Note: Remember that many of the benefits of various foods that are being proven in studies are not a substitute for medical advice from your health professional. However, I think that including a wide variety of nutrients and ‘superfoods’ can go a long way in trying to reach and maintain optimum health.

 Fermenting Purple cabbage

While green cabbage is the traditional ingredient for sauerkraut, purple/red cabbage is a terrific substitute. Try this method for making a quart of kraut, only use purple cabbage, and you’ll end up with a gorgeous and super-powered ferment. What makes red cabbage extra special? It contains up to eight times more vitamin C than its green cousin. It also contains anthocyanins —nature’s colorful splash that accounts for the deep purple/red/blue hues in many of our favorite fruits and veggies. In many studies, anthocyanins have shown to attack cancer, reduce blood pressure, improve eyesight, among other exciting claims.

Fermenting Purple (red) onions

The blushing counterpart of its white cousin, red onion becomes delightful when fermented. (Click here to make Quick Pickled Red Onions.) Like all onions, the red beauties contain tons of quercetin, a known cancer-fighting compound. Quercetin loses much of its potency when cooked, so eat raw onions whenever possible, or ferment them to preserve this precious compound. I have found that when fermented, onions become less harsh, gaining a smooth sweet/sour flavor that doesn’t stick with you all day! While all onions contain quercetin, red onions are extra special because they contain anthocyanins, the same compound mentioned above that gives it a gorgeous purple color and provides many health benefits.

Fermenting Beets

Ahh, beets, the misunderstood and under-appreciated root veggie! Beets are very unique in their superfood status. They contain a group of antioxidants, in a combination not found in any other veggie, that helps support and heal the liver, improve circulation, and purify the blood. Give beets a chance; roasting them is a sweet option if you want to see just how delicious they can be. (If all you’ve ever had are canned beets, please, I beg of you…roast them. Just once in your life.) If you want not only to make beets delicious, but to enhance their good qualities, try fermenting them. You can add a bit of shredded beet to your kraut for a simple nutritional boost (and to add colorful interest and flavor), or here is an option for a quick ferment that uses turnips and beets. To make this beautiful veggie shine on its own, try making a unique drink called beet kvass. There are many versions and recipes for kvass online—this recipe is especially nice because it includes turmeric, another ‘superfood.’

Have fun fermenting the hues of nature; purple is one color in the food rainbow you’ll definitely want to include as you make your superfoods. Grab those healthy veggies you already love, and unlock their health benefits even more with the magic of  fermentation!


When the harvest comes in hot and heavy, you do not want to be caught short of fermenting lids for Mason jars. Visit the Fermentools store for your supply today.


Andrea gardens, forages, cooks and ferments on a little plot in the city. She loves spreading the word about age-old practices and making them new, exciting and feasible for everyone. Find her at LittleBigHarvest.com.

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