Minty Pickled Celery with Apple and Beets

A delightfully delicious ferment dressed up in shocking pink!

A delightfully delicious ferment dressed up in shocking pink!

(Photography by Leila Ashtari )

A refreshing combo, crunchy celery, sweet onions, sharp apples and fresh mint are combined with bright beets for a ferment that looks as good as it tastes. The addition of fennel seed really ties all the flavours together. 

Minty Pickled Celery with Apple and Beets

See this Easy, Homemade Sauerkraut recipe for in-depth instructions on this process of lacto-fermenting.


  • 1 large bunch or 2 hearts of celery (the inner stalks from 2 bunches) (750g-1kg)
  • ½ medium sweet vidalia onion, peeled and trimmed
  • ¼ small beet, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt (not iodized salt or pickling salt)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ granny smith apple, cored
  • 2 whole sprigs of mint


Note: Although this recipe doesn’t involve a canning process, cleanliness of ingredients, tools and hands at every stage is extremely important for making pickles that are safe to eat. 

To prepare the celery, trim the bunches and separate them into stalks. Wash, dry, then peel the stalks. Cut the prepared stalks diagonally into slices, around 5 millimetres thick, using a sharp knife or mandoline (safety note: always use the guard when cutting on a mandoline). Add the celery to a large, clean bowl. 

Thinly slice the onion and add to the bowl. Halve and thinly slice the beet and add to the bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the bowl and toss everything together. Add the fennel seeds and toss again. 

Work the mixture with clean hands for a few minutes, massaging and squeezing. Taste, add more salt if needed, and massage more. Repeat until the mixture tastes salty, but not too salty. The saltiness won’t diminish much in the final pickle, so do not salt to the point that you wouldn’t want to eat it. 

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Then check the mixture; it should look wet, and it should have created plenty of brine — if not, work the mixture some more with clean hands, add a touch more salt, cover again and let sit for a few more minutes. 

Cut the piece of apple in half, thinly slice, then stack and cut the slices in half again. Add the apple slices and the mint sprigs to the bowl and mix everything well. 

Add the mixture to a clean, 1-litre glass canning jar, packing it down tightly and forcing the brine up and over to cover it. Pack up to around the shoulder of the jar, but leave an inch or two at the top, as the mixture will continue to release brine as it ferments. Once you are done packing, tip any extra brine from the bowl into the jar. 

Now place something on top of the vegetables to cover; a piece or two of clean, cut cabbage leaves work well, or use clean plastic wrap or a freezer bag. Once covered use a clean, smaller jar filled with water and sealed, as a weight to keep all of the mixture under the brine. This is critical for the fermentation to go well and to avoid spoilage. 

Cover the jar loosely with a tea towel and place it somewhere reasonably cool and out of direct sunlight for 8 - 12 days. Keep an eye on the fermentation, checking it every day or two, especially in the beginning, to make sure all of it remains underneath the brine. Sometimes a little white foam or scum develops, this is harmless and you can simply remove it with a clean spoon. Mold however, while common, is unwanted. It’s likely cause is the mixture not being kept underneath the brine. Remove all affected areas and traces of mold if they appear, and redouble efforts to keep cabbage submerged to avoid losing the entire batch. 

The batch is ready when it tastes pleasantly sour.

Store sealed in the refrigerator for up to six months. As long as the pickle is still looking, smelling and tasting good, it’s good to eat. If it starts to get really soft, smell or taste bad, it’s time to throw it out.

Serve in a grilled cheese sandwich, on a charcuterie board, or on the side — it’s perfect for a picnic.

Yield: Makes 1 litre

Pssst… more lacto-fermented recipes for you to try out here!

Gin 'Sauerkraut'

(Photography by Leila Ashtari )

Curry-Spiced Fermented Cauliflower

(Photography by Leila Ashtari )

Leila Ashtari is a food and travel photographer currently based in the Niagara region who loves telling stories about food, people and places through her work. As well as contributing to CBC Life, her work has been published in Saveur Magazine, The New York Times, Vanity Fair and Lonely Planet Magazine, among others. She also likes to ferment things and always has experiments bubbling away in her basement. See more of her work at or on Instagram @ashtariphoto.

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