How to Ferment Money

crumpled bills, coins and an empty jar sit on a wooden backgroune
yellow cucumber flower growing on a cucumber vine

According to a report co-authored by researchers at Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, Earth has entered its sixth period of mass extinction. Within just three generations, pollination by bees could be something kids only read about in textbooks (unless they live in Texas). You can read the full report here or an overview of it here.

While some people may not mind living in a world free of broccoli, cauliflower and lima beans, they will probably miss hazelnuts, melons, squash, cucumbers, lemons, limes, strawberries, persimmons, apples, avocados, apricots, cherries, almonds, cocoa, grapes and on and on. We’ll still have corn and wheat though, which do not require pollinators, until blight tears through these non-diverse and thus vulnerable monocultures with the speed of a California wildfire.

I know what you’re thinking—“What will we eat?” 

If you read my blog at all, you likely know that I eat fermented foods daily, I teach fermentation classes in person and online and I regularly post recipes of and information about fermented foods. If fermentation can transform a plain old head of cabbage into delectable, addictive kimchi, imagine what it can do for bland ones and fives!

bills and coins from various countries sit on a wooden background with a white piggy bank

Fermented money

Lactic acid bacteria cover fresh produce and these hard-working anaerobic microbes ferment fruits and vegetables when they are submerged in liquid. Although these particular microbes may not naturally live on cold hard cash, think of the microbes all over it. It has changed through so many hands: lobbyists, politicians, executives at Monsanto and Syngenta, possibly a farmer.

Get creative with your fermented money. You may read on other blogs that twenties or even hundreds have a superior flavor to ones, but this is nonsense of course. Sprinkle in some pennies, nickels and Sacagawea dollar coins for color. If you have euros or loonies or pounds or rubles, add those too. This recipe knows no borders, just like colony collapse, drought and famine. Try to make your fermented money look appetizing. Try very hard.


  • 20 bills in various denominations
  • 1 handful of coins
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp salt


1. First combine the salt and water to make a brine. Stir this until the salt dissolves. With a vegetable ferment, salt draws out the juices, maintains a crisp texture and slows down the fermentation, thus prolonging preservation. With money, it will add much-needed flavor.

2. I crumple my bills for this recipe. You could shred them like you would cabbage for sauerkraut or kimchi. But if you believe money can buy anything useful when we have no food, you might prefer the whole bill method. This leaves you with the option to dry some bills out and put them back in your wallet, unless that’s made of leather, in which case, you may have already eaten it.

crumpled bills, coins and an empty jar sit on a wooden backgroune

3. Stuff the bills into a glass jar.

a jar stuffed with money and a pile of coins sit on a wooden background

4. Pour the brine over the bills. The most important thing to remember when you ferment is to keep the food—in this case, bills—submerged in liquid. Take one bill, fold it up and stuff it on top of the crumpled or shredded bills. That will help keep everything submerged in the jar. 

five on top
Add various currencies to create a ferment more diverse than the Earth’s coming biota

5. Sprinkle some coins on top of the folded bill to act as weights, which will keep the bills submerged.

coin weights
Put your kids’ coin collection to good use

6. Seal the jar and wait. Be patient. This ferment may take some time.

sealed jar
Keep your ferment out of direct sunlight

7. Let the bills sit for at least three days. Taste them on day three. If you like the flavor, they are ready. Transfer them to the fridge to slow the fermentation.

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”

― Alanis Obomsawin

What now?

Here are just some of the things we can do: Support farmers who grow our food using regenerative farming practices. You’ll find this kind of food, which tastes delicious, at your local farmers’ market or through a CSA (community-supported agriculture). Find a farmers’ market here and a CSA here.

If you have a yard, help struggling native bees. Build bee blocks or turn snags (dead trees) into bee nesting sites.

Bees also face threats from climate change. Make individual changes: eat more plants, drive less, buy less stuff and get politically active. Join your chapter of and take to the streets.

Consider growing some food and plant companion flowers near your garden to attract bees. If you have a strip of land, use it. Watch gangster gardener Ron Finley’s Ted Talk for inspiration.

28 Replies to “How to Ferment Money”

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog Annie 🙂

  1. Love this, vote with your feet, do your best with what you have and keep a sense of humour !

    1. Brilliant. Hopefully some people will wake up a bit.

      1. I hope so! Thank you 🙂

  2. Michelle Snarr says: Reply

    I love this!!

  3. Great post. It makes me think that my local sustainable living group needs to do more in the way of public education.

    What I hope will happen is that we will begin to experience just enough unpleasantness- perhaps in the form of sharply rising costs, unavailability of the things we like etc…- that people will simply HAVE to change en masse. I think most people still have their heads in the sand. I’m still dreaming of having my own bee hives, and perhaps that is also something that many of us can do to ensure some healthy bee populations remain.

    Thanks for the wealth of information and inspiration you provide in your blog. I’m sure that many more people than those who comment are reading and taking notes 🙂


    1. Thank you Madeleine. I think you’re right about the need for education and the fact that people having their heads in the sand. Others are also in denial or I-give-up-we’re-all-screwed-why-bother mode. If you and your group haven’t read them, a couple of great books you all might like are Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, by George Marshall, and This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein.

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      1. Madeleine says:

        Thanks for those book recommendations, I will definitely follow them up 🙂


  4. Ha! Thanks for a thought provoking blog that also made me laugh!

    1. Thanks, Karen. I’m glad I made you laugh. I’ve always liked writing satire 🙂

  5. […] Source: How to Ferment Money | The Zero-Waste Chef […]

  6. for goddess sake what will you ferment next – our pantry is turning into a fermentary – the crock of miso is down. we are eating the daikon yummo . sauerkraut is doing its thing turnips even fish have been pickled lately after we caught them off the wharf of course. go girl keep the message coming the bees know something is going down…

    1. Oh wow, you make miso?! That is advanced! Does it ferment for a long time? Fish are advanced too. And you caught them! I’m impressed. Your description of your pantry is making me drool. The radishes are sooo good in sauerkraut. I think they make a big difference. I hope your bees are doing better than ours.

      1. first time for making miso and a bit of a process – it is now in the crock and hope to leave it a year but knowing this mob here we will probably peek in at 6 months and have a taste. and fish well – there is a man in the kitchen that loves food and the smeller the better. funny you mention bees – we had thought our top bar hive had fizzed offline on us and John has just come back from having a squiz and lo and behold it is hanging in there with a bit of brood and a tiny bit of honey so doing ok for a cold winter.

      2. I will have to try miso. I have a pile of soy beans and need to do something with them. I am more adventurous than I used to be and enjoy my food smellier these days too. That’s good news about your bees. Glad to hear it 🙂

  7. Another potential action– beware and don’t plant seeds or plants grown from seeds that have been coated in pesticides.

    1. That’s a great one, Annie. I have started saving seeds but from organic food only (pretty much everything we eat is organic) and planted organic vegetables this summer. Seed saving is an act of rebellion!

  8. Want to try this. Will Canadian money affect the fermentation process since we have plastic money now?

    1. I forgot about the plastic money up there! Well, I wouldn’t eat plastic. You better get some US dollars. They will also have more microbes on them from all the hands they have passed through.

  9. Amazing. Your blog is such a gem! Definitely sharing this one 🙂

  10. Hand pollinating like they do for vanilla (& I did years ago when I was growing giant pumpkins) employs lots of people at least… That’s good for the economy and growing money!

    1. Lol. I guess I could look at all of this as job creation ;p

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