Lacto-Fermented Vegetable Troubleshooting: Mushy Vegetables

As with mold, if you have fermented vegetables for a number of years, you’ve probably had a batch or two of mushy vegetable ferments. Sometimes this just happens, but there are some factors that can help to prevent it.

Most people prefer vegetable ferments to be crisp and crunchy. I know I do. So when a batch of pickles or kraut comes out limp, it’s a bit disappointing. You can definitely still use those mushy ferments, either eaten as is or chopped fine to form a relish, but you may also want to look into what’s causing the problem in the first place.

That’s where we come in today.

There are a number of factors to consider if you want to prevent mushy vegetable ferments. Here are a few:


It is possible to ferment vegetables without salt, but salt does help to improve the overall flavor of the ferment while keeping it crisp. If you’re not using salt, you might want to consider it.


Pectin-digesting enzymes tend to come in high numbers when we ferment at high temperatures. This can cause the vegetables to break down and become mushy.


Tannins help to firm up the vegetables with their astringency. Use grape, oak, horseradish, or black tea leaves with your ferments to prevent mushiness caused by factors other than the two listed above.

What about you… do you have any tips for keeping your fermented vegetables crunchy?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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  1. mpbusyb says

    Hi Shannon,
    I find it important to use super-fresh, just-picked veggies for my fermentations. That can be a challenge when you don’t have the desired pounds of cucumbers coming out of the garden on the same day or you have to wait for other ingredients to get to the right size for the recipe. So I try to make batches according to how much I do have to ferment at one time using smaller jars if necessary. If I cannot get vegetables directly from garden to brine, they go straight into the fridge withOUT washing. I think that protects them a little better than removing that “bloom” they have to protect them from some of the elements. Another help to crunchy veggies is to pick or buy them slightly smaller or less mature.

  2. says

    if I am using pint size jars for fermenting cucumbers how much black tea should I use in each jar? How much oak leaf? Thank you first time fermenting!

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