Reduce Your Food Waste with Fermentation

Go green by using your surplus cilantro to make a tasty Fermented Cilantro Coconut Sauce. Don’t like coconut? Simply omit it. 

A whole lot of good food is wasted every day—globally, about one-third of food doesn’t ever make it to the table. Fermentation is one answer to reducing the food waste in our homes, schools, and restaurants. Small steps, taken by many, lead to big changes for the environment. 

Fermented Vegetables Cover
Photo by Alee Moncy © Storey Publishing.

Plus, fermenting is fun. Each batch is a little science experiment that you get to eat. Like a potted plant or garden bed, ferments require some basic care and tending, but appreciate extra love. They do their own thing and you get to be part of it. You nurture them, maybe you talk to them, certainly you watch them change over time, and then you eat them. 

If you are new to fermenting, here’s an easy-to-make Shockey family favorite recipe you can make with your surplus cilantro.  

Fermented Cilantro Coconut Sauce photo © Dina Avila.

Fermented Cilantro Coconut Sauce

yield: about ½ pint (473 ml) 

This sauce is a staple in our fridge. For years we made it without the coconut and loved it; it was bright and sour and often began a salad dressing. So, if you don’t like coconut, feel free to omit it. But once we fermented it with coconut milk, we never looked back. It becomes rich and creamy, with lighter acid notes. The color stays much brighter. You can make it spicy with jalapeños or mild with green bell peppers, or mix it up. 

At nearly every meal at our house, someone says, “Grab the green yummy sauce.” We admit we might have a problem. Therein lies another problem: We have never managed to hide and store this sauce long enough for a true test of shelf life in the fridge. We know you’ve got at least a month of goodness.


  • ½ cup (118 ml) creamy coconut milk 
  • Juice and zest of 1½ limes, or ¼ cup (59 ml) lime juice 
  • ½ large green bell pepper or 2 jalapeños, seeded and roughly chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) unrefined salt 
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 3.5 ounces/100 grams), trim just the ends of stems and rough chop 


1. Place the coconut milk, lime juice and zest, bell pepper, garlic, scallions, and salt in a high-powered blender, if you have one, or a food processor. You want the liquid at the bottom so that every ingredient blends well. Adding the cilantro in two or three batches, process until you have a creamy sauce. 

2. Pour the sauce into a jar that leaves a couple of inches (3 cm) of headspace. You will not see any separation of the brine. It is too saucy to place a weight or follower on. Tighten the lid to seal. 

3. Set aside the jar, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight, in a cool spot, and let ferment for 7 to 14 days. Burp daily (complete details on burping are available in Fermented Vegetables 10th Anniversary Edition), or as needed. If you see separation or bubbles, shake the jar or open it and give the contents a stir. The sauce is ready when it is pleasingly sour. The coconut will get thicker and more creamy, like yogurt. 

4. To store, transfer to the refrigerator, where the sauce will keep for at least 1 month. 

Excerpted and adapted from Fermented Vegetables 10th Anniversary Edition © Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey. 

Kirsten K. Shockey

Kirsten K. Shockey

About the Author

Kirsten K. Shockey is the author of Homebrewed Vinegar and the coauthor, with her husband, Christopher Shockey, of The Big Book of CidermakingMiso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments, Fiery Ferments, and the best-selling Fermented Vegetables. She is a co-founder of The Fermentation School, a women-owned and women-led benefits corporation supporting the voices of independent educators to empower learning and build culture. The Shockeys lead experiential workshops worldwide and online helping people to make, enjoy and connect with their food through fermentation. They live on a 40-acre hillside homestead on unceded Dakubedete territory in the mountains of southern Oregon. 

Learn more about this author

Christopher Shockey

Christopher Shockey

About the Author

Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey are the coauthors of Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty FermentsFiery Ferments, and the best-selling Fermented Vegetables. Christopher has years of experience producing ciders from their mountain homestead orchard and is a trained cider maker. The Shockeys got their start fermenting foods more than twenty years ago on their 40-acre hillside smallholding, which grew into their organic food company. When they realized their passion was for the process, they chose to focus on teaching fermentation arts to others. They teach worldwide and host workshops on their homestead in southern Oregon.

Learn more about this author

Related Books