Most mustard is made from either white (or yellow) mustard plant, Brassica hirta. Its spicier cousin is the brown mustard, Brassica juncea. We use a combination of the two here. There is also black mustard (the spiciest of the bunch), but it is difficult to grow and is not very commonly found in the U.S.

The word mustard derives from Latin for mustum (fermented wine) + ardens (hot seeds).

Water revives the enzymes from dried/powdered mustard, and will create the pungency that mustard is known for. Interestingly, temperature affects the pungency too. Use cold water for a hotter mustard, and warm water for a more mellow mustard.

Conversely, acids slow this enzymatic process. So you can get mustard to a flavor you want (wait a few minutes or a few hours), then add brine/acid to “lock it in” by adding an acid, (brine or vinegar).

Turmeric is what makes mustard yellow (not just by using “yellow” mustard) and is common in store-bought varieties.

Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 1 pint
  • 35g (3 oz. by weight) white/yellow mustard seeds
  • 35g (3 oz. by weight) brown mustard seeds
  • 60g (about ¾ cup volume) white/yellow mustard powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup (60ml) pickle brine or liquid whey
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 7 fl ounces (205ml) filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) (20g) honey (OPTIONAL)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) turmeric (OPTIONAL)
  1. Add brown and yellow seeds, water (colder water for spicier, warm water for more mellow) and garlic cloves in a food processor or blender. Mix about 6-8 minutes
  2. Add mixture to a clean wide mouth pint mason jar.
  3. Add mustard powder. To achieve a mellower/less spicy mustard, wait 10 minutes before adding remaining ingredients.
  4. Add salt, turmeric, honey (if using) and pickle brine to jar.
  5. Stir well.
  6. Tightly secure lid and ferment at room temperature 3 days.
  7. Store in refrigerator for up to a year.




Fermented Hot Sauce

Hot sauce can take anywhere from a few weeks to 4 to 6 months to ferment. I tend to let mine go on the longer side. My most recent batch was a four-month ferment.

Keep it simple with a single pepper type, or use a variety of (similar colored) peppers with differing levels of heat and flavors. If you use a mix of red and green peppers, you will wind up with a grayish-brown product. Not very visually pleasing, but it will likely still taste delicious!

Fermented Hot Sauce
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 1 quart
  • 2 lbs. (1 kg) fresh chile peppers, any variety
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) pickle brine or whey
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) sea salt plus more to adjust taste
  • 6-8 cloves fresh garlic
  • distilled vinegar or ripe kombucha to adjust consistency
  1. Cut stems off peppers.
  2. For more heat in finished sauce, keep the seeds and membranes in hotter peppers. To reduce heat, cut them out and discard or compost.
  3. Peel garlic and add to work bowl of a food processor or blender.
  4. Add salt and pickle brine or whey to work bowl.
  5. Add peppers to work bowl. Pulse until you reach the consistency of pickle relish or salsa.
  6. Transfer contents to a quart-sized jar. Secure with a fermentation airlock device, or cover with a swatch of clean cloth or a paper towel. Secure with mason jar ring.
  1. Ferment for anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months.
  2. If yeast or mold formed on top, wipe, scrape, or scoop off the top layer.
  3. Add contents to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth (up to 5 minutes depending on speed and power of your device).
  4. Adjust consistency and flavor by adding salt or vinegar as needed.
  5. Dispense into recycled sauce bottles. Store at room temperature or in refrigerator. Keeps for many months.




Not sure how hot each pepper is? Consult the Scoville scale to get your chile bearings.

Fermented Corn (Maize) Kernels

I initially made fermented corn as a way to create a lactobacillus-rich neutral flavored brine I could use to inoculate other dishes (like legumes).

This recipe uses a 5% brine (by weight). You could go as low as 3% brine because it is a short (less than a week) ferment.

Fermented corn has a sweet and sour taste. Simple as can be to make, now I keep a jar of fermented corn on hand all the time. It’s great to sprinkle a few tablespoons over some greens, into a salad, or mixed in with your favorite guacamole recipe!

summer salad with cornjar of fermented corn


Fermented Corn (Maize) Kernels
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 1 pint
  • 2 ears sweet corn (about 1 cup/ 250ml)
  • 8 oz/250 ml filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons/10 ml/ 12.5 grams fine sea salt
  1. Cut kernels off corn ears.
  2. Dissolve salt into water in a pint or quart sized mason jar.
  3. Add kernels to jar.
  4. Cover container with a tea towel or clean dishcloth to keep dust and flies out, and secure with twist ties or a rubber band. OR if using small batch fermentation kit, apply the fermentation lid per the instructions.
  5. Ferment 3 to 6 days (until you see it bubbling and has a sour aroma and taste).
  6. If there is any surface yeast or mold, skim it with a spoon or a paper towel. Stir the contents of the jar.
  7. Remove airlock lid and replace with metal lid.
  8. Store in refrigerator. Keeps in brine for up to 2 months.


Fermented Ketchup

Homemade condiments like fermented ketchup provide another way to take in probiotics, while at the same time eliminating another High-Fructose Corn Syrup-laden food from your diet. They are also a great way to sneak probiotics (good bacteria!) into your kids’ meals.

Bonus points if you make your own paste from fresh tomatoes. If you just don’t have the wherewithal or time to paste your own tomatoes (and it IS a long process!), it would be okay to use organic canned tomato paste. We won’t tell! 😉

Fermented Ketchup
Recipe type: condiment
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 2 pints
  • 10 lbs. fresh San Marzano or other pasting variety tomatoes OR four 6 oz. (170g each) cans of organic tomato paste, totaling 24 oz/700g
  • ¼ cup/60 ml by volume or 3 oz/85g by weight honey
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 6 fl. oz (180ml) olive or pickle brine, apple cider vinegar or very ripe kombucha (acidic liquid)
  • 2 teaspoons/10ml sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml clove, ground
  • 2 teaspoons/10ml allspice, ground
Make Paste (from scratch)
  1. Wash and remove stems from tomatoes.
  2. Make an "X" shaped slit in the skin of the tomatoes at the stem end.
  3. Boil water in a medium to large stockpot.
  4. A few at a time, drop the tomatoes in for 30-40 seconds. Fish out with a spider or slotted spoon.
  5. Immediately put them in a bowl filled with ice water. Then pinch the tomatoes from the non-slit end. The skins will pop off. Set aside in another bowl. Compost or discard skins.
  6. Cut tomatoes open and squeeze out gel and seeds. (Reserve for another use).
  7. Puree drained tomato flesh in a food processor until mostly smooth (a few lumps is okay).
  8. Pour contents into a slow cooker, and cook for 8-10 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. During this time, most of the juice should evaporate off, and it will take on a darker color. It won't be as thick as canned tomato paste. You can cook longer if you want a thicker paste.
  9. Let paste cool.
Mix ingredients (Start here if using tomato paste)
  1. Peel and mince garlic finely, or grate using a microplane. Add to mixing bowl
  2. Add paste to a mixing bowl, along with honey. Stir until smooth.
  3. Add acidic liquid, ½ cup of brine or whey and salt, cloves and allspice to bowl.
  4. Stir contents well.
  1. Transfer to a quart mason jar or two pint jars.
  2. Cover tightly and let ferment at room temperature for 3 to 10 days.
  3. When you like the taste, transfer and store in refrigerator. Scrape down sides of jar to reduce chance of mold formation. Lasts at least 6 months.