The garden is just starting to produce cucumbers and I have been trying my hand at a recipe for fermented pickles with dill.
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Cucumbers were one of the first things that I fermented when I first started learning to ferment different vegetables. I really wanted to be able to make a good pickle. My dad had always eaten sauerkraut when I was growing up and I just did not want any part of that.
When I first started on this fermenting journey, everyone was raving about sauerkraut and it was the “healthiest ferment you can make” but I just did not want any part of it. But I kept seeing people rave about fermented pickles as well and thought that was the perfect ferment for our family.
It is kind of difficult to get your pickles to stay crunchy and crisp when fermenting them. I have tried to make pickles a few times and we have eaten them every time because they’re fine. But they’re never as crunchy as I would like for them to be.
I have really been working on this so I wanted to share a few tricks that will help you get the crunchiest pickles that are lacto-fermented and full of probiotics.
Lacto-fermentation is really not as difficult as it sounds and it is not really a difficult process. It is just a matter of salt, water and vegetables- maybe a few seasonings or herbs added- and you are good to go.
Recipe For Fermented Pickles Video
What You’ll Need For Fermented Pickles- Recipe For Fermented Pickles
Quart Mason Jar
Fermenting Weight of Choice- My favorite are these glass weights.
Fermenting or Canning Lid
2 Tablespoons Quality Salt (I prefer Redmond’s Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt)
2 Cups Filtered Water
4-6 Pickling Cucumbers (or 3-4 large)
2 Tablespoons Dill
1 Teaspoon Whole Peppercorn
5 Garlic Cloves
5-10 Bay Leaves (Source of Tannins)
How To Make Fermented Pickles- Recipe For Fermented Pickles Step By Step
Make The Brine
In a sauce pan, heat 2 cups of filtered water just until warm enough to dissolve salt.
Add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir until dissolved.
Add ice and allow to cool.
Chop Cucumbers and Prepare Seasonings
While the brine cools, I like to chop my cucumbers and prepare any seasonings or herbs I am adding in.
The shape that you chop your cucumbers into depends on your preferences and they type of cucumber you are using.
For the small pickling cucumbers (my favorite), I like to chop into round chips that are on the thicker side. I also like to just chop off the blossom end and ferment them whole.
If you are using the larger sized pickles either home/locally grown or store bought, the chips or spears are better suited.
Regardless, just be sure to cut off that blossom end for the best chance at crunchy pickles.
For these pickles, I used whole peppercorn, dried dill from our garden, whole cloves of garlic that I just mashed with a knife, and a few bay leaves for tannins. The tannins also help to keep your pickles crunchy but you can also use things like black tea, grape leaves (most popular) and oak leaves. Bay leaves are the easiest for me to use because I already keep them on hand for soups.
Assemble Into Jar
Pile everything into the jar- seasonings and spices, bay leaves, cucumbers, then brine- and pack down so that the brine fully covers everything.
Everything staying below the brine is very important. If anything is exposed to air, it can mold quickly. If you have extra brine, I would highly suggest saving it to keep in the fridge so that your jars can be topped off if needed.
If for some reason you do not have enough brine, top it off with more filtered water as long as the full 2 tablespoons of salt per quart jar is added. If you use a larger jar, you will need to increase the recipe accordingly.
Add Weight and Lid
Add your fermenting weight of choice. My favorite are the glass weights but you can use springs or even a cabbage leaf. If using the leaf, it will need to be wedged just under the lip of the jar to keep everything submerged since it is not heavy enough to hold it all down.
You have a couple of options for lids and methods used with those lids. There are special lids made for fermenting that have holes for the gases to escape. While 100% not necessary, I do find that these are my favorite because I do not have to worry about burping the jar and they help keep the amount of leaking down.
You can also just rest a canning lid on top. This is just as easy- no burping necessary- however I do notice that the jars leak more making that plate or dish underneath super important. I like to clean it daily.
The last option is a normal lid screwed on but with this method, the gases will build up and you will need to burp the jar by unscrewing the lid and opening it at least once a day, if not more. While still not difficult by any means, I usually default to a fermenting lid or a regular lid rested on the jar.
Leave your jar(s) on a plate or dish at room temperature for 3-5 days in the summer and possibly longer in the winter. I like to check them daily just to be sure there are no contamination issues and to test to see when they are done.
You can start to smell the more sour scent and that is when I will taste to see if they need more time or if they are done. Once they have that delicious sour pickle taste, they are done.
To store, you will remove your weight, seal with a lid and leave in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, just pull your jar out, enjoy and place back in the fridge.
What is the difference between fermented pickles and regular pickles?
Regular pickles are usually made with vinegar to pickle them. They do not have the same probiotics and the flavor comes from the solution rather than a natural fermentation souring. Fermented pickles are added to a salt brine to keep the bad bacteria at bay but allow the good bacteria to grow. This gives a soured taste and provides a pickle full of healthy probiotics. The flavor is a bit different but by adding the usual seasonings and herbs that you would with a standard dill pickle, you can get a pretty closely flavored fermented pickle that is nourishing.
How long will fermented pickles last?
Ours last about 3-6 months. Now, we usually eat them before this amount of time and I have heard others say they have pulled ferments out of their fridge that were a year old and they were still perfectly good. But, I would definitely use discretion if they get this old.
How do you keep pickles crisp when fermenting?
It comes down to a few factors:
- Type of cucumber and how you cut it- The pickling cucumbers or a smaller cucumber are best. Fresher pickles are also best. You can ferment them whole, in spears or in round slices but I would be sure to cut them thicker than thinner if you chop them. A thicker cut will help them to stay crisp.
- Blossom end- no matter the type of cucumber or how you cut it, just be sure to cut off the blossom end. It holds certain enzymes that can soften the vegetable. This will help keep them crunchy.
- Add tannins- like the blossom end holds enzymes that soften, tannins have properties that help keep the cucumbers crisp. Tannins are found in things like bay leaves, grape leaves, oak leaves and even some teas.
How do you can naturally fermented pickles?
I would not recommend canning any ferments. While a warm spot is necessary while the fermentation occurs, you want to slow the fermentation once soured by placing in the fridge. At this point, too high of heat can kill any beneficial bacteria and this will occur if you can the pickles. While these do not last as long as canned pickles and are not shelf stable, they still do preserve them well. I think that ferments and canned food all has their place in the farmhouse kitchen though!
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4 thoughts on “Recipe For Fermented Pickles”
Who doesnt love a good pickle?! Awesome!
Yum! I love homemade pickles, but I’ve never made them myself. I’ll have to try it now!
Thank you for the detailed directions. These look and sound delicious! Plus super easy to make.
My son has just discovered how much he loves pickles so I think this will be something great for him to learn how to make with me. Thanks!
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