Fermented Beets with Cumin and Basil

By Amanda Paa – Updated May 24, 2024
4.50 from 8 votes
These naturally fermented beets are infused with cumin and basil, a tangy pickle with a bit of earthiness. They're a great source of probiotics, and and easy to make with literally 5 minutes of hands on time. We like to eat these sour-sweet beet slices as a snack, on sandwiches, or diced and added to a grain bowl.
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What is Fermentation?

Bubbles, bacteria, probiotics, enzymes & minerals ……

Pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kvass………

Natural fermentation is quite a fascinating process, relying on just salt and water to make things literally come alive, turning your favorite fruits and vegetables into even healthier and delicious bites. One of the ways it’s different than what we think of as “pickling” is that hot brine or acid (like vinegar) is never used because that kills all of the powerhouse nutrients, and halts any type of good bacteria (like those in yogurt) from growing.

I began canning and preserving years ago, starting with homemade fermented kimchi, and then kombucha. Beyond fermenting fruits and vegetables, I dove into the world of sourdough bread which relies on natural fermentation and the magic of a sourdough starter!

Fermentation extends the life of foods, as beneficial bacteria consume the natural sugars and produce lactic and acetic acid for preservation. They keep your tummy happy, producing vitamins, that help to populate the gut with microbes and boost the immune system.

Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe}
Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe}

Thankfully I stumbled upon Amanda’s inspiring and helpful blog, Phickle, basically an encyclopedia on everything you ever wanted to know about these crazy microbial adventures. I felt so comfortable following her recipes and tutorials, seriously demystifying the world of fermentation for me.

And she’s written a beautiful book, Ferment Your Vegetables! I got lost in it the days after it landed on my doorstep, between the stunning photos and her practical advice on how to get your own little kitchen bubbling with jars of condiments, kraut, pickles, and even different appetizers (like fermented winter squash hummus!) you can make with the results.

Ferment Your Vegetables, by Amanda Feifer

What Do Fermented Beets Taste Like

I couldn’t help but make these Fermented Beets with Cumin and Basil first, imagining how beautiful they would shine in the jars, and a flavor combination that just spoke to me. I was dying to try this tangy, earthy, version of one of my favorite vegetables.

They turned out incredible. Delicately spiced tangy and sour, like a good pickle should be. These colorful slices made me fall in love with beets all over again.

With natural fermentation, the earthiness of the beets turns sweeter and brighter – a true testament of how food can naturally transform into something so different.

Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe}
Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe}

Tips for Fermenting Vegetables

  • Make sure you to use washed, very clean glass jars.
  • Let your ferments (beets in this case) sit for 7-10 days in a warm spot, around 65-78 degrees F. That is the perfect environment for the bacteria and acid to growing..
  • You’ll want to make sure the brine sits above the vegetables, using something that submerges them. I used another jar pushed inside the other. And then you MUST cover the jar with a cloth so that bacteria in the air can’t get inside. I learned that the hard way, with one batch that got slimy.
  • Check on them periodically to make sure if the jar has overflowed, you wipe up the spills. If they’re bubbling – that’s a good thing! And if the water is turning a little cloudy, that’s also good.
  • Taste every 3 days or so to see how they taste. When they’re bright, sour, and salty, they’re done. The length of time it takes to get to this stage can differ depending on how warm your environment is.
Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe} healthy probiotics.

Not only are they great as snack, but they make a beautiful pickle plate, with goat cheese and a heavy drizzle of olive oil.

I’ve also been eating them on salads, diced and stirred into scrambled eggs, and as a topping for juicy cuban pork bowls.

Fermented Beet Salad.
Fermented Beets with Basil & Cumin {recipe} healthy probiotics.
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Tangy Fermented Beets with Cumin

These naturally fermented beet slices are infused with cumin and basil, a tangy pickle with a bit of earthiness. Easy to make and probiotic rich.
4.50 from 8 votes
Prep Time :10 minutes
Additional Time :14 days
Total Time :14 days 10 minutes
Yield: 2 pints
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 4 or 5 small beets (1 pound) — I used chiogga beets, the pink & white ones, and gold beets.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3.5 grams) cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 cups filtered water (not tap water)
  • 1/4 cup whole basil leaves (optional)


  • Slices the beets into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.
  • Put the cumin seeds in the bottom of two pint jars and stack the beets on top.
  • Mix the salt into the water until dissolved, then pour brine into jars until beets are just covered. (If you need to add a little more filtered water, that is okay.)
  • Submerge your veggies with a vessel, like another jar that fits inside or a weight so that beet slices are fully submerged.
  • Place jars on small plate and allow to ferment at room temperature (65-78 degrees F). Ferment the beets for 5 days away from direct sunlight. On day 5, taste the beets. If you want them to be tangier and sourer, replace the weight and lid and continue to ferment for a few more days. If you’re happy with the taste, remove the weight, and fermentation lid.
  • Pack some basil into each jar if you'd like. Put lid on and refrigerate. If you do the basil remove it after after two days (or it will spoil). Enjoy! These will last up to 3 months in the refrigerator.


Reprinted with permission from the Ferment Your Vegetables cookbook.

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January 30, 2016


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  1. Daria Messino

    How to you clean the dirt off of the beets without removing the good microbes?

  2. Muskratmom

    Does the shape of the pieces matter? I grow mostly lutz beets and slices are too big. Is this the basisod brscht?

    • amandapaa

      any shape will work! as long as you use a jar they fit and the liquid covers them completely.

  3. Darci Reeves

    would it be ok to use powdered cumin instead of seeds?

    • amandapaa

      If you don’t have cumin seeds, I would just leave it out.

  4. Hawk

    Is this like canning where they will last for a long period of time. Years

    • amandapaa

      Hello! This is not a traditional canning recipe. Once they have fully fermented on on your shelf, they’ll last 3-4 months in the refrigerator.

  5. Randi

    Do you cover the jar with a lid, or just a cloth while fermenting? (Newbie and just not sure)

    • amandapaa

      Hi Randi!
      Yes, use a cloth, not a lid. A lid will prevent fermentation from occurring. I left helpful hints about the process in the paragraphs right above the recipe.

  6. Kallie Miller

    Any reason you could not use a quart jar?

    • amandapaa

      you certainly could! just be sure that the beets stay submerged.

      • Kallie Miller

        Thank you for your reply. I am going to make them tonight with excitement.

  7. Amy

    I would LOVE to try this as I love both red beets and basil but I would be terrified that I would give my family food poisoning! If it is fermented, does it contain alcohol?

  8. Angela

    Are the beets raw? If so how did you remove the skins? Or did you?

    • amandapaa

      Hello! The beets are raw and you leave the skins on.

  9. Eden Passante

    This is so cool! Need to try this!

    • amandapaa

      thanks Eden! they’re such a colorful addition to tacos or salads. and yay for good probiotics!

  10. Patricia @ Grab a Plate

    So gorgeous! Your photos are amazing! I can imagine how wonderful these taste. I also had no idea about the pickling vs. fermenting process. Thanks for the great info and recipe!

    • amandapaa

      thanks Patricia! yes, give fermentation a try. it really is a cool process. and i love the pickles!

  11. Alice Seuffert

    So gorgeous! I love golden beets and what a fun new way to try them!

  12. Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

    Love these good-for-you beet pickles. My mind is blown too about the nuts. Have to check it out.

  13. Christine

    I recently saw this book and thought it looked beautiful! I’ve only ever made sauerkraut, kvass and pickled radish, and I still get just a little nervous whenever I have a fermentation project on the go. It really is just like a science experiment! I can’t get over how pretty these are Amanda! I am really excited to try these :)

  14. aida mollenkamp

    Um, these are the most gorgeous preserved beets I ever did see!

    • amandapaa

      thank you Aida! the colors were just so vibrant in the sunlight.

  15. Mel @ The Refreshanista

    I’m just starting to get into fermenting. I made my own kimchi, and this recipe looks like the perfect next step! These beets sound wonderfully flavourful and look gorgeous too!

    • amandapaa

      awesome work on the kimchi! i think you’d love these pickles. so tasty on tacos!

  16. Linda | The Baker Who Kerns

    I just love all the beautiful colors that beets have. I can’t believe there are so many cool and different types of beets out there, like those red and white striped ones! I’ve been wanted to ferment and can things for a while but it is one of those things that intimidates me in the kitchen. I really want to make my own sauerkraut! That would be my first thing to do! Maybe I’ll go to the bookstore and sit down and read this book and get some tips. I’m always that weird one on the flour with mountains of books around me.

    • amandapaa

      same here Linda! i recently discovered white beets too. i was intimidated by fermenting as well, and they are definitely things i question while they are bubbling away, but you get the hang of it. the book seriously took away my anxiety, super resourceful. and so many unique recipes! xo

  17. Emily | Gather & Dine

    Love this post, Amanda! For the longest time mold was also the intimidation factor for me, but finally I got brave and started with kimchee too. And it turned out to be so much easier than I had expected! It’s also such a money saver when you compare to all of those fancy ferments at Whole Foods. Your beets are just gorgeous and I’m so inspired to try this! Goodness, I have SO many cookbooks, but I’m very tempted to get this one as well. :)

  18. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    The scientist in me just LOVE kitchen projects like this. Fun, nerdy and totally delicious all at the same time. I love these photos – they are like a breath of fresh air in the middle of winter. I think I’m going to need to pick up this book!

  19. Tessa | Salted Plains

    Ok, the colors in these photos are crazy pretty! I have always been so timid to try fermenting anything for fear I would do something wrong. It sounds like the book simplifies the process and makes it easy to check yourself. I need to do this! xo.

  20. Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet

    5 stars
    Wow, Amanda. These beets are absolutely stunning. With some carrots and hummus to go with, I see this being my new favorite snack for sure! :)

  21. Faith (An Edible Mosaic)

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen prettier pickles! You have such a way of seeing beauty everywhere, my friend. I love fermented things too, but I’ll admit, it’s been way too long since I made homemade pickles and apple cider vinegar! I need to get back into it; homemade beats the pants off anything store-bought! xoxo

    • amandapaa

      Thank you Faith :) I couldn’t resist the beautiful light coming in on a winter day to capture their color! I am so intrigued by the apple cider vinegar thing. I need to try that. I know how good it is for you! xo

  22. danielle // rooting the sun

    yes amanda! these beets are so incredibly beautiful, employing such a great method of preservation. i love the image of other fermentation projects bubbling away in your kitchen (not to mention they sound amazing – fermented nuts and turnip slices?!). all of this excites me in grand ways. xo

  23. Hannah | The Swirling Spoon

    The most beautiful fermented vegies I ever did see! I think my trepidation around fermentation really hangs on the word “SCOBY”. Haha. I need to let it go so I can give this a try! And beautiful photography, too. x

    • amandapaa

      right Hannah? i think of of the cartoon scooby doo, then food, then this giant slimy thing and i just don’t know how it makes something so delicious. lol. i’ve made it once at home, but i didn’t feed the scoby enough. off to try it again :)

  24. Traci | Vanilla And Bean

    I was completely sucked in by the colors of the glorious beet root and they are soooo delicious right now. A perfect time for fermenting or pickling. Now, I’ve pickled before and fermented kimchi… but never have I fermented beets! I gotta give this a go. What fun! I’ll check out Amanda’s site. Thank you for this my dear! Looking forward to seeing your sauerkraut! WOW!!