Fermented Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Fermented Sweet Potatoes | She Paused 4 Thought

Every once in awhile I make something that is out of my comfort zone and am shocked by how good turns out. Lacto-fermented spicy sweet potatoes is one of those recipes.

Fermenting is currently the rage in Los Angeles; from trendy restaurant chefs & mixologists to vegans & home cooks alike.

I am a novice with fermenting, but I love it so much that I think I will soon become an expert! You can read about my first time fermenting process here.

The popularity of fermenting has grown for several possible reasons. It is noted for it’s probiotics properties that can help with digestion, and it enhances the flavor of whatever ingredient is being fermented. A side benefit is the leftover brine, which is full of flavor and can be used in salad dressings, drinks and to season just about everything.

Fermented Sweet Potatoes | She Paused 4 Thought


This recipe is easier to make with a digital scale, spiralizer, and a fermenting jar, but can be done without as well.

Scale: If you don’t own a kitchen scale, get one. A kitchen scale makes life so much easier. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought one for $10 at Marshalls. If you don’t have a scale, weigh your sweet potatoes at the store and buy 1 extra small sweet potato to make up the difference of peeling and the parts you might cut off.

Spiralizer: I use my spiralizer a lot during the summer months. You can purchased a hand held version at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond for $15, or the one I am using at Amazon for $30. Other options are a julienne peeler or you can simply cut the sweet potatoes in small strips.

Fermenting Jar:  I am very fond of my 3-liter Air-Lock Lacto-Fermentation Kit from Rancho La Merced Provisions. If you would like to use a mason jar check out Food Renegade’s “Using a Mason Jar for Fermenting” on the subject.

Fermented Sweet Potatoes | She Paused 4 Thought

Today’s Recipe:

In this recipe the massaged sweet potatoes creates its own brine. If the brine doesn’t cover all the sweet potatoes you can add a little bottled/filtered water to the top to keep the vegetables submerged so mold won’t form.

Note: The jalapeño pepper’s heat level will increase with time. I learned this after eating it straight out of the jar after it had been stored for two weeks in the refrigerator and almost burned my lips off. So now, I leave the jalapeño at the top and pull it out when it reaches the level of heat I prefer.

This recipe was adapted from the Cultures for Health website, which is a wealth of information if you want to learn more about fermentation.

Fermented Spicy Sweet Potatoes
This recipe is spicy with a perfect balance of sweet and salty. Fermented Spicy Sweet Potatoes is scrumptious on top of pork carnitas tacos or as a side dish for fish.
  • 2.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled & spiraled or sliced thinly
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons sea salt
  1. In a large non-reactive bowl mix the sweet potatoes with the ginger, onion, and jalapeño. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  2. Massage the sweet potatoes to encourage the release of the juices and to help the brine develop faster.
  3. Once the brine begins to form (about 20 minutes), transfer to a fermentation vessel or (mason jar). Push down with a clean hand, if necessary, until the brine goes above the vegetables.
  4. Cover and ferment 5-10 days. It is important to keep this ferment in a cool place (under 65°F) as a quick fermentation could result in a large amount of alcohol being produced.
  5. If you are not using an airlock, be sure to burp the jars regularly to release pressure.
  6. Once the potatoes are pleasantly fermented, move them to the refrigerator.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Fermentation time: 7 days

I love this recipe because it is spicy with a perfect balance of sweet. I eat it straight out of the jar or with a dollop of labneh (a Middle Eastern soft cheese made from yogurt), as well as on pork carnitas tacos, as a side dish for grilled meats and fish, or even for breakfast with greek yogurt and rice crackers.

I am off to the farmer’s market to investigate my next fermenting adventure.
…and then, she paused for thought.

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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21 Responses to Fermented Spicy Sweet Potatoes

  1. Nanette June 20, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Wow, looks great. Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? Too bland? I love that you tell us how to make something, and then suggest what to eat it with! Thanks.

    • Cathy Arkle June 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      I haven’t thought about spaghetti squash, what a great idea. I will explore that option. I am thinking zucchini might work as well. Researching…

  2. Sue @ It's Okay to Eat the Cupcake June 20, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Cathy, this is beautiful, and I’ll bet they’re delicious, especially with the pork carnitas. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. SUSAN HERRMANN LOOMIS June 20, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Cathy these are gorgeous and they sound delicious! And that spiralizer….very cool.

  4. CHERI NEWELL June 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    YES… looks yummy and I like your kitchen gadgets to make life easier!

  5. Judy at My Well Seasoned Life. June 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    You talked about this recipe at lunch and now it’s here! Can’t wait. Would you use the same/similar process with cucumbers?

    • Cathy Arkle June 23, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

      Good question Judy. I would think so, but I will need to do a little more research.

  6. Kelly Page June 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this. I’ve done this with varying levels of success using cabbage, but sweet potatoes seem like much more fun. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cathy Arkle June 23, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks Kelly, it is a great variation on all of the cabbage recipes. I think you will really like it.

  7. Maggie Zeibak June 22, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    Who knew that fermenting was ‘in’? You did; I didn’t!

    • Cathy Arkle June 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

      It is quite addicting Maggie, and healthy as well.

  8. Christy @ Confessions of a Culinary Diva June 25, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Wow. I need to get on the fermentation bandwagon. It’s not all the rage in the desert, but most of our fermentation here comes in the form cocktails, botox and other injections 😉

    You made this look so easy that I just ordered that spiralizer from Amazon to give this a try!

    • Cathy Arkle July 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      LOL Christy! I love anything spiralized and it never fails to impress people. I am going to try fermented spiralized cucumbers next.

  9. Nusrat Azim June 30, 2015 at 4:51 am #

    A totally new and incredibly sweet idea to me! Fermenting sweet potatoes. Genius!
    And it didn’t take much of your energy to prepare this beauty-thing. Plus, I bought a spiralizer few months back 🙂

    So, thank you very much for giving me this brilliant twist-idea on sweet potatoes. Those potato Julienne are looking so fancy dancy!

    • Cathy Arkle July 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

      It was a new idea to me as well… nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am loving coming up with new things to ferment and the spiralizer makes it so pretty & festive.

  10. Lynne @ CookandBeMerry July 14, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Very interesting. I have a spiralizer, but have never used it. This would be a perfect first time project. Thanks.

    • Cathy Arkle March 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

      Lynne, once you realize how easy and fun they are to use I think you will love it. It makes any dish more fun.

    • Cathy Arkle March 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

      Hi Anita, I have tried fermented cassava while I was in Dubai home-made by native Fijians. It was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but I know so many people rave about it. I will check out your recipe for it and try it again. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Billy June 19, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    So interesting that the jalapenos increase their heat by so much when you pickle them! I was curious about this – I assumed the flavor would increase but I didn’t think the heat would be blasted so high! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I can’t wait to make it at home.

    • Cathy Arkle June 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

      I found that interesting as well Billy. This is one of my favorite fermented recipes. Enjoy.

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