Fermented Fresh Herbs

"It’s a good idea to make small jars of these guys because you will only use a few leaves or a spoonful or two at a time.”

May 25, 2017


For the Brine-Fermented Fresh Herbs, pack a 1-cup (237-ml) jam jar with the herb leaves, leaving a bit of headspace. Combine the water and sea salt and pour over the herbs. Weigh down as you would sauerkraut, cover and allow to ferment for 5 to10 days or until tangy and bubbling.

Transfer to cold storage. Keeps for several months at room temperature if left unopened. Will keep for 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature once opened or store for up to 6 months when refrigerated.

The Chopped/Paste method turns out a roughly chopped paste that creates its own brine, much like sauerkraut does.

Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems and chop them finely. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with sea salt.

Transfer herbs, salt and any brine in the bottom of the bowl to one or two 1-cup (237-ml)-size jars, as needed. Pack them down tightly and check the level of the brine. If it hasn’t come up above the level of the herbs, add salt brine with a ratio of 2 teaspoons (10 g) of salt to 1 cup (237 ml) water.

Weight down with a fermentation weight and cover the jar tightly. Ferment for 5 to 10 days or until tangy. Once fermentation is complete, transfer to cold storage.

Will keep for several weeks at room temperature, 2 to 3 months in a root cellar or up to 6 months refrigerated.

Note: Green herbs oxidize—turn black—over time. This is a natural process and does not harm the final product or shelf life of the herbs.

Variations: While single herbs are a great choice for picking and choosing what you use them with, mixed herbs create an all-seasons approach. This herb mixture will flavor everything from soups to casseroles, sandwiches to spreads. Just mix several of your favorite herbs and add some onion or garlic scapes for additional flavoring. Use this in place of the herb ration in the recipes above. And don’t forget that the brine will make for an incredible addition to vinaigrettes or Veg Brine Mayonnaise.

Makes: 8 ounces
Fermentation Time: 5 to 10 days, depending on temperature
Storage Time: 3 to 6 months

About this recipe

“While dehydrating woody herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary really locks in the flavor, I find annual herbs preserved by this method underwhelming. To remedy that, and because I can no longer freeze them, I’ve come to love fermenting them in a brine or in a paste—their fresh flavor really comes through with the introduction of lactic acid during fermentation. It’s a good idea to make small jars of these guys because you will only use a few leaves or a spoonful or two at a time.” -- Shannon Stonger

Reprinted with permission from Traditionally Fermented Foods by Shannon Stonger, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Shannon Stonger

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  • 1 cup (40 g) lightly packed, fresh, whole herb leaves (any herb works here)
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1 tsp (5 g) sea salt
  • 2–3 bunches cilantro, parsley or basil
  • ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
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