Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
January 28 2012

Naturally Fermented Dill Pickles

By Worker Bee
116 Comments

Of all the food transformations that occur in a kitchen, few are as exciting as that of a cucumber into a pickle. Not because the process is so complicated, but because it’s so simple. Salt, water and a little time in a jar are all it takes to transform a cucumber into an entirely different food. What’s truly amazing is that so many people love pickles even if they’ve never tasted a really good one. A great pickle makes your eyes widen in surprise and your tongue tingle with pleasure. The sourness should make you salivate for more, rather than pucker and wince, and the texture should have a noticeable crunch when bitten into.

If it’s so easy to transform a cucumber into a pickle, though, then why are grocery store shelves filled with so many mediocre specimens? In a word, vinegar. Many store-bought brands use vinegar to pickle cucumbers because it guarantees a sour flavor and acts as a preservative. However, this method misses the entire point of pickled food. Using vinegar instead of brine (salt + water) prevents natural fermentation from occurring. Without natural fermentation the live bacteria cultures that turn pickles into a healthy probiotic food are absent. Not to mention that when pickles are soaking in vinegar for a long time it typically results in an overly sour flavor and rather limp texture.

There are brands of naturally fermented pickles to be found in stores, although they can be expensive. Making naturally fermented pickles at home is cost effective and easy to do and the anticipation of biting into that first spear is more fun than you might think. When you taste your first homemade pickle, be prepared for an audible crunch and a pleasantly tangy flavor. It will be ever so slightly infused with garlic and dill and taste fresher and snappier than a store-bought spear.

As much as you will love your first batch of homemade pickles, also be prepared for your mind to immediately start coming up with new variations. Why not spicy pickles? How about pickles flavored with star anise or cinnamon? What about herbs besides dill? And why stop with cucumbers? Carrots, cabbage, cauliflower…pretty much any vegetable is fair game.

This recipe is for one jar of pickles but can easily be doubled, which is a good thing. Once you’ve tasted the first batch, you just might find yourself feeling that no meal is complete without a homemade pickle on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 small (3-4 inches long) un-waxed cucumbers. Look for pickling or “Kirby” cucumbers which are an ideal size. Persian cucumbers can also be used but don’t always stay as crispy.
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (or other non-additive salt)
  • 4-8 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half and smashed with a knife
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • Plus: 1 wide-mouth 16-ounce glass canning jar (sterilized in boiling water and air-dried)
  • Optional seasonings: red pepper flakes, hot chiles, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, celery leaves, bay leaves, fresh herbs, onion, cinnamon stick, cloves

Instructions:

Combine salt and water and let sit until salt dissolves

After washing cucumbers, cut the tips off on both ends. Leaving the cucumbers whole or cutting them in half or into spears is a matter of personal preference. Experiment to see what you like best.

In the jar put 4 sprigs of dill, garlic cloves and peppercorns.

Tightly pack the cucumbers in the jar. Add remaining dill.

Cut one cucumber in half and set it horizontally on top of the other cucumbers –this will keep the cucumbers from floating up above the water in the jar when they shrink a little during the pickling process.

Pour the salt water into the jar. It should completely cover the cucumbers.

Set the lid loosely on top of the jar, don’t seal it. Let the jar sit undisturbed at room temperature. You’ll know fermentation has begun when you see bubbles rising to the top of the jar and the water becomes cloudy. A thin layer of white scum might also form on the surface of the water. This is harmless and can be scooped away with a clean spoon. However, trust your nose. If the pickles smell bad while fermenting, throw them out.

It will probably take 3-10 days before the pickles are done. Taste the pickles during this timeframe to see if the texture and flavor are to your liking. This is the only sure sign that your pickles are done. Once you’ve decided they’re done, tighten the lid and store the pickles in the refrigerator. Because there is no vinegar to preserve the pickles, they will only keep about a week. If the flavor of the pickles is not vinegary enough for you, try drizzling a little vinegar on the spears right before eating.


If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

116 thoughts on “Naturally Fermented Dill Pickles”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Awesome. I’ve been eating a lot of sauerkraut with vinegar in it lately but I think I’ll give this a try.
    Pickled cabbage is supposed to have 20 times the bioavailable amount of vitamin C than raw cabbage so I imagine pickling things is an easy way to absorb nutrients.

    1. I just watched a video interview with Mat LaLonde and I remember him saying that fermented foods contain more bioavailable nutrients compared to non fermented foods.

      It makes sense… I would say the probiotics help for sure!

    2. I’ve been doing natural sauerkraut for a few years. I’m told it’s the “traditional” German variety. The crunch can’t be beaten, and while store bought sauerkraut often causes boating and gas… the natural variety never has. My cabbage is pickled with onion and caraway seeds. My own added twist… is 1-2 small diced jalapenos! For a fun fuschia twist to sauerkraut… use red cabbage, red onion, and a couple of small red chiles, I never leave out the caraway seeds. 1 tsp per head of cabbage. The finished sauerkraut tastes exactly the same BUT is a bright purple/pink color!
      Another happy experiment in dill pickle making; take the left over broccoli stalks. (mine a about 2 feet tall this year!) with a vegetable peeler skin off the woody outer layer. Cut the stalks into medallions, and process the same way as dill pickles!

      1. Sounds good, will try as well. The caraway seeds in your kraut might be the reason of not bloating. As far as I know that shall help. I want to try that as well. Got a recipe with 1/2 boskopp apple, 80gr horseradish, 20gr unrefined sea salt and a kg of finely sliced red cabbage.

  2. I seal the jars (pickling jars with rubber seals). The pickling liquid leaks out of the jars but they last a few months.
    You can make a delicious soup with the pickled cucumber. Stir-fry some grated or chopped pickled cucumbers in butter on medium heat for two or three minutes. Stir in some beef broth (and some of the meat) and some pickle liquid (to your taste) and cook for about 10 minutes or less. (Before my primal days I added some cubed boiled potatoes but it is just as nice without). To serve, mix in some sour cream or spoon sour cream into each bowl before ladling in soup. Enjoy!

  3. great timing Mark! I was just about to try making my own sauerkraut, I’ll give this a go too!

  4. Cutting the ends off is very important, but I can’t remember why. It might have something to do with enzymes at the blossom and/or stem end???

    Maybe an expert can chime in, just to make sure people don’t ruin their pickles…YUM!

    1. Cutting the ends off,is supposed to keep them crunchy.

      Though I’ve heard cutting them into halves and deseeding them is supposed to do the same…cause nobody likes mushy snotty dill pickles.

    2. There is an enzyme in the flower end that will cause the pickle to go soggy, so cutting off the ends makes sure that doesn’t happen.

  5. Cutting the ends off isn’t that critical. I’ve made successful fermented pickles many times and it doesn’t seem to matter.

    What DOES matter is that the vegetables you use in your ferments are VERY FRESH. This post would have been better-timed if it had appeared in July, when pickling cukes are available locally all over the place. Making ferments from vegetables that have been shipped thousands of kilometers and then have languished on store shelves for days is just asking for nasty-smelling slime, not delicious crunchy sour pickles.

    (I guess it’s good for the folks in Aus & NZ though! Maybe I should stop being so Northern-Hemisphere-centric.)

    1. Indeedy! My cucumber vines are going nuts here in Melbourne, as are the grape vines. Sadly the first batch of dill pickles I made before Christmas failed…..maybe it was too hot, or I didn’t use enough salt. They smelled soooo good for the first four or five days, but then ‘something’ happened and they got mushy and smelled a lot less appealing.

      I’m heading out to the vegie patch tonight to pick some more cukes and try again. Wish me luck.

    2. I’ve been making my pickles so far with English cukes bought at Costco–doubtfully perfectly fresh and they’ve been quite crunchy. Will have to try fresh ones in the summer.

  6. Oh and another tip for cucumber pickles – to keep them crunchy, add some well-washed grape leaves (as in, leaves you pick from a grape vine, also not currently available in the northern hemisphere). The tannins in the leaves help keep the crunch in the pickles. I use 2-4 leaves (depending on size) per quart (litre) jar.

    1. Fresh grape leaves do help keep the pickles crunchy. An alternative is to use oak leaves. These work in the same manner.

    2. Grape leaves work. I don’t wash them though; I pick them from wild growing vines and just rinse. I do the same with my homegrown cucumbers, just rinse them. Washing them too much removes the local wild fermenting yeasts that make the pickling process go forward.

      In my first batch of pickles I used one big leaf per quart and all 6 jars came out great even though they were stored on the bottom (read floor) of my pantry and some were there for 6 or 7 months. In the batch I made this past spring, I forgot the grape leaves and they all turned to mush (4 quarts) in just a few months. I poured the juice off to marinate meats in, but the mushy cucumbers I gave back to Mother Earth in my garden.

      As someone else mentioned, I’ve heard that oak leaves work as well as grape leaves, but I haven’t tried them yet.

      I have fermented several different things. As far as I know, cucumbers are the only things that need the grape leaves to keep them crunchy. I’ve made sauerkraut (different variations) with no leaves and it seems you cannot mess up cabbage. I fermented Serrano peppers and they came out great – wonderful flavor and crunchy – no leaves.

      I fermented kale and some eggplant relish this past spring – just now opened a jar of each – next time I will use grape leaves in the relish for sure (although they are not as mushy as the cucumbers were), and maybe just add some kale to cabbage instead of a whole jar of just kale.

      My advice is if you are using an untried recipe for fermenting, just make a small quantity (a pint or just one quart) before risking too much of your good organic produce. And use spices.

      The juice produced from fermenting makes a wonderful salad dressing: I mix half juice and half olive oil. Wow!

    3. I’ve found grape leaves to work well, too. You can also use leaves from red raspberry plants for the same purpose.

    4. Not available in the northern hemisphere? You must not get out much. I live in Michigan and we have wild and domestic grapes everywhere.

  7. I don’t know if its just me but I love the taste of pickled gherkins. Can’t live without them.

  8. I LOVE cucumbers and pickles. I don’t recall every enjoying a homemade pickle. I’ll have to get going on this right away!

  9. I’ll sometimes put a tablespoon or so of whey into each jar to get the process started a bit faster. It seems to work well.

    I also second the grape leaf suggestion! Particularly important if you’re slicing the cukes rather than leaving them whole.

  10. I am lucky enough to have fermented pickles sold near me, but they are expensive. Crispy new pickles, just barely salty, are amazing.

    You can use this brine again for new batches of pickles 🙂

    1. Many cultures have a traditional variant of the standing brine crock – and they throw anything worthy of pickling into it and keep it going.

      The previous owners of my house in Michigan were Ukrainian – sold the house when they were in their 90’s to move to a condo. They always kept a garden here and left behind a 12 gallon pickling crock in the basement canning kitchen. 12 gallons! Just think…

      Unfortunately, it was cracked so not usable any longer for food prep. I had to replace it. It makes dandy firewood storage for the family room, though.

      1. That broken crock can be made usable with a parafin patch dripped into the crack. I did that with one I had and used it for all the years I had a cellar to pickle in.

  11. Pickled okra is one of my favorites – but I’ll have to check to see if okra is on the “allowed” list for primal eating.

  12. This sounds alright, but are they really sour? I mean, I love some good pickles, but mainly the ones with extra garlic, that are preserved in vinigar.

    Just a thought though, anybody ever thought about using some dark, natural balsamic vinigar to make these?
    Speaking from personal experience, if you cover some sliced cucomber with basamic vinigar and leave them in the fridge for about 3 days, you get some really delicious results.

    1. Yes! I have used balsamic vinegar that way. I use balsamic as my first preference for vinegar whenever I can – and make sure to get the real stuff, well aged, no additives, etc. My staple salad dressing is balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and a rustic Tuscan herb mix that is nothing but dried herbs – no additives – and a little water. I reverse the usual oil to vinegar ratio so its more oil than vinegar.

  13. I’ve been meaning to make my own pickles and sauerkraut for ages.. need to make a conscious effort to add more fermented foods to my diet!

  14. Pickled food is a big thing where I live during the winter time, when there are less fresh, natural vegetables available than in the hot seasons.

  15. Can anyone explain why sauerkraut is good for months (made with brine) and pickles are only good for a week? Just wondering…,

    1. I think that may be an error. Although there’s no vinegar, there is lactic acid from the bacteria. I’ve certainly kept my homemade fermented pickles far longer than a week.

      1. My fermented pickles (with a grape leaf in ea jar) kept for several months without refrigeration. Once I open a jar I put it in the fridge, but the unopened quarts I put on the bottom shelf of the pantry. All the salt and lactic acid keep them from spoiling.

        Just smell of them when you open – if they smell bad, then toss them. But they won’t.

      2. I agree. I worked at a living historic farm for a while and we kept our brined pickles for quite a while more than a week (mustard pickles). They fermented for a little over a week and then were put into jars and into a cool location and lasted for- as I recall- about a month and a half before they were eaten. However, after about a week or so they started to get a bit floppier than when they first started as they didn’t have lime in them, so perhaps he’s referring to the crisp texture as opposed to the edible shelf-life?

  16. Awesome! I’ve been making saurkraut every couple weeks since reading about that on this post (who knew so simple?) and will now make pickles. Love them in my daily BAS. Just salt, water, and a few herbs? Can’t wait to try…

  17. Another type of cucumber that might work well in this recipe is the so-called “gourmet” cucumbers. They are small – about five inches long, have tender skins (no need to peel), no seeds, no spines, and come pre-packaged in bags. I’ve seen them in several markets, including Sam’s Club and Costco.

  18. Deja vu! My breakfast this morning was exactly this topic. I had some older man begging me to leave some pickling cukes for him as I was buying up the supply this summer at the Farmer’s Market. I made 10 qts. I use my grandma’s recipe which is similar. Per qt – 1 garlic clove, shake of crushed red peppers and 1 T salt. If I’m out of dill, I sub in 2 tsp dill seed. Once fermented, I place them in a cool area (frig in summer, cold basement in winter). I still have two qts left that I made in August. I do spears for the bigger cukes, but little ones, I just cut off the tip and make a couple of slits. They stay nice and crunchy.

  19. Has anyone ever done this with carrot ‘peelings’ ie sliced with a potato peeler. I was given them stir fried yesterday, and they were fantastic, but I imagine they would be equally good pickled

    1. Yes, you may want to take a look at either Nourishing Traditions or Wild Fermentation, the latter is all about fermenting foods, and the former has a nice section on fermenting veggies. Fermented carrots are great with a bit of garlic or ginger (or both) thrown in.

  20. I really want to do this. I have yet to try pickling any foods and I love pickles. Although I think everyone loves pickles. 🙂 A friend of mine made pickled okra and it was amazing. This is sort of random, but is there a reason why it seems that pregnant woman always want pickles?

  21. this recipe sounds great! FYI if you’re looking for fresher pickling cukes in the winter, try your local Asian market – they often seem to stock pickling cukes regularly and they’re always very crisp.

  22. We just made these the other night. Still waiting to try them. The kids have been pestering me for pickles and shopping at Costco left us with lots of cucumbers. Thanks for sharing this!

  23. Dill pickles….yummmmmmm!!!! This would be perfect alongside one of my egg wraps…or a turkey sandwich with paleo bread. Or just eat one straight out of the jar…the best way to eat them right???

  24. very interesting article! our occasional eating of hotdogs MUST be accompanied by pickles. now we get to customize it ourselves!

    1. I wonder if you could make pickles by slicing the cucumbers in half and scooping out the seeds so that you make a little boat. Then when you want a hot dog – let the pickle be thy bun!

  25. “Because there is no vinegar to preserve the pickles, they will only keep about a week.”

    Mark and the Worker Bees, did you really mean to say this? The point of fermenting vegetables is to preserve them, but in the old timey way, with the lactic acid from the bacteria.

    1. Let me second that. My pickles usually need to stay in the refrigerator at least several weeks before they even reach the consistency I like. And they last as long as I store them there.

  26. That sounds crazy simple. Making these! Need to find Kirby pickles. They look like what I refer to as baby cukes?? Probably not the same thing, though? Unless they are. 🙂

    1. Kirbys are those stumpy bumpy unwaxed cukes usually about 4-5″ long, not the cornichons you’re talking about, not the bigger dark greens (those are waxed – anathema!), and not the long English or Armenian ones. Ask the produce folks to show you, because Kirby is what you want.

  27. Thanks for this.
    I remember my dad making pickles by the barrel when I was a kid. And he’d tell stories of his dad, a Wisconsin farmer during the Depression, and the threshing crews in the 1930s that would come around and at the end of the day want their pay…and a chance to grab a pickle out of grandpa’s barrels with their grubby hands.
    Dad/Grandpa’s recipe was never written down and is lost. But I do remember as a kid stirring salt into the water until an egg would float and the white scum you mention needing to be skimmed from the top.
    I’m definately going to give these a try. I’ll probably never match the taste those pickles I remember from 40+ years ago but it will bring back a lot of good memories in the process.

    1. Dave,

      If I had to bet I would say they were using oak barrels, the tannin leaching out were probably a key ingredient to making the pickles so crisp.

  28. I’m not sure about the single-jar method. When I do crock pickles, they need to be skimmed every day because of the little bits of mold and bacterial cultures that form on the top. If you don’t get them out of there, they run out of control and the whole batch gets an off flavor.

    I’ve been using the method in Sandor Katz’s book, but I make smaller batches by using old slow-cooker crocks and saucers that I get at thrift stores. (The saucer gets weighted down to keep the cukes submerged.)

    The fermentation takes a couple of weeks, depending on the weather, but the wait is worth it.

  29. Wow! Add pickles (and pickled okra!) to the list of “reasons I can’t wait to get the garden fired up again.”

    Does anybody know of a good pickling cucumber variety to grow in north Texas?

  30. I use this same process and they keep for months *at room temp* as long as they’re plenty sour (which is a sign of lots of preserving lactic acid). They keep for well over a year in the fridge.

    Some advocate a source of tannin (like oak leaves or grape leaves) to ensure crispness.

    Love the idea of pickled cauliflower; will try that!

  31. One of the things not mentioned in this post or the comments, is whether sterilization of the jars is required. Is this just a given, or is it not important with natural fermentation?

    1. The recipe says 1 wide-mouth 16-ounce glass canning jar (sterilized in boiling water and air-dried)

      I always sterilize my jars.

      1. I never sterilize my jars. I’ve been fermenting pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, Kombucha, and baking sourdough for more than three years and I’ve never had a problem.

        My pickles last for months in the fridge (the last batch we ate were 12 months old). I ferment them for three or four weeks at room temperature and then place them in the fridge where they have lasted crunchy and yummy for a whole year.

        Pickles
        3.7% salt brine using purified water and sea salt
        Organic cucumbers
        Organic dill
        Organic HORSERADISH LEAVES (keeps them crunchy like oak and grape leaves)
        Garlic
        Spicy peppers

  32. I ferment veggies all the time in my Perfect Pickler…check out their website. My ginger carrots and pickles are my favorite. Fermented foods have traditionally been eaten as a condiment…to aid in the process of digestion. Amazing enzymes, bacteria and probiotics. Also check out Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook. There is a whole chapter on fermented foods in there that will give the novice fermenter a great education. Invest in your food…invest in your health!

  33. OK, just put together my first batch of pickles. Fingers crossed!

  34. I have a type of scum floating amongst the pickles. Is this okay? How will I know that they have a bad smell? Is this bad smell a ‘make you want to puke’ smell? Mine smell like pickles and taste is not putrid so I take this as okay. I’m nervous about eating ‘rotted’ food that sits and festers on my counter. Let alone feeding pickles to my kids. How do I know they are bad? Is it safe to eat the ‘scum’ left on the pickles? So many questions so little time.

    1. hallo!
      1its not rotten its fermented – do u drink vino sometimes, its fermented fruits, tempeh or miso fermented soya beens ( actually the most healthy way to eat soya)
      2 skum floating amongst the pickles its a gas which are create in prices of fermentation
      3 sometimes Pickles get bad & than are very soft & go apart when u touch them & its unpleasant smell U will got it
      Normally Pickles are salty crunchy delicious thing with delicate taste of flavor builder U use.
      & yes its safety for your kid to eat its at list its allergic to some of ingredients.
      & 4 adults its use as hangover cure & during vodka drinking.

  35. This is my first attempt at fermented pickles. They have been sitting for four days, but have developed white mold on the top. Have they gone bad, or should I just scrape the mold off the top? Not sure what to do from here..

  36. Cassle, that is the kalm, mold. Just scoop it out. It won’t hurt you. Try to keep it off the pickles as its a bit gross.

  37. I just made some of these, and they are the best pickles I’ve ever had! Thanks for the recipe, Mark. Going to try making sauerkraut next from a recipe in Nourishing Traditions.

  38. My husband has been making the most wonderful pickles lately, using this method. He also adds mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fresh basil, garlic, onions and (most importantly) fresh grape leaves. In doing research about pickles we found information that fresh grape leaves keep the pickles crisp and do they ever! Also, we’ve been pickling everything BUT cucumbers! Our favorite are chayote squash, but we just completed a jar of green tomatoes. They were fabulous! I can’t wait to try cabbage. That’s next.

  39. I just opened a jar of my pickles and the next day white scum appeared on the top. What happened?

  40. I put my pickles up in 5 liter Fido Bormioli jars. Once they’re fermented I divide the pickles into 2 liter jars, add a few cups of vinegar and place them in a very cold refrigerator (38°)

  41. Has anyone tried this with eggplant yet?
    Any tips if u have?

  42. It’s quite confusing. There are some informations (like here) saying that the jar should not be tightly closed during fermentation and other sites tell the exact opposite. Here what I found coming from Weston A. Price Fundation:
    Be sure to close the jars very tightly. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process and the presence of oxygen, once fermentation has begun, will ruin the final product.

    Can someone help me out? Should I close the jar or not?

    Thank you!

    1. If you use the two-piece canning lids, any pressure from the fermenting process will push the lid up and escape, saving the jar from bursting. At the same time, no outside air can get back in because the rubber seal presses down against the jar rim. A layer of carbon dioxide will form between the surface of the food and the lid–this provides the anaerobic environment for proper fermentation. These two part lids are made to work when they are hand tightened. After fermentation is complete and the jars are moved to the fridge I usually swap the two-piece lids for the plastice “storage” lids because they won’t get corroded by the salt and acids. If you don’t use two-piece lids you may want to use plastic wrap and a rubber band. During fermentation I am careful not to disturb the layer of carbon dioxide by opening the lid.

      If you are using a yeast ferment it will require air. This is where you use the coffee filter and rubber band system–or something similar. Kombucha SCOBYs and Kefir grains are a combination and they need to breathe. The sauerkraut and pickles need to be closed up. Good luck!

  43. I made these a week or two ago and just finished the cucumbers, exactly how I like them! I am reasy to make a new batch – just wondered about reusing any of the brine/dill/garlic mixture that is leftover? Or is it important to start from scratch?

  44. Thank you I just tried this recipe so i will let you know how it went. I have crohn’s disease and have decided recently to starat fermenting my own vegetables to help. I love this food anyway and never realized it was actually healthy.

  45. It says at the end that the pickles will only last a week because no vinegar is used.. that is false. I have fermented pickles and kept them in the fridge for almost a year, they still taste great! even the brine is still delicious… I used little salt and fermented for a few days.

  46. Just bought some pickling cukes at my farmers market and have whipped up my jars of ferments…. so easy and I cannot wait to try them! Has anybody tried adding stevia for sweet pickles?

  47. I started a batch of cucumbers on Saturday evening (today is Monday morning) and have yet to see any sign of bubbles. I am using a Fido jar. Should I be concerned yet?

  48. I have very long experience with making dill pickles in this way (Easter-European thing!).
    I ALWAYS use dill flowers instead of fresh dill.
    It gives you incredible aroma, try it and you will appreciate difference.
    Besides I put in jar small pieces of horseradish. It gives you extra notch of flavor and in my opinion it allows to store them for longer time.

    1. Yes! Dill umbrellas (actually all the plant except for roots), horseradish leaves is exactly what we put here in Ukraine for making fermented cucumbers. Horseradish for crunchiness, dill for better fermentation and aroma. Other popular ingridients are sour cherry leaves, amaranthus retroflexus (a widespread weed here), oak leaves and black current leaves. Latter three for crunchiness, cherry leaves for flavor.

  49. Ok, I tries this recipe. 2 jars. One seems ok but the other has mold on the top. Both look really cloudy. Any thoughts on what I did wrong? Any help is greatly appreciated. I really want to figure out how to make this kind of thing (i.e., fermented and pickled foods).

    1. Cloudy is fine. Keep contents submerged by wedging carrot sticks in jar mouth to prevent mold growth. Use 5 tablespoons sea salt to 2 litres if water.

  50. I tried this recipe, made two quart jars. I followed the recipe exactly, doubling where needed.

    The flavor was fine, the crunch was fine, yet they were SO SALTY that I wanted to throw up. It wasn’t just a salty taste either, it was an “OMG I’M INGESTING OCEAN WATER AND I COULD PUKE” taste.

    I love salt. I eat it raw. So, when I say something is too salty, you know it really is.

    I even tried pouring out the brine and replacing with cold filtered water to try to leech out the salt. Didn’t work.

    Any ideas?

  51. I thought you’re suppose to close the lid tightly. There are even pickl-it jars that don’t let air in.

  52. No. Use much less salt! 5 tablespoons kosher or sea salt to 2 litres of water (non-iodized salt is a must). Use fresh organic veggies. Don’t sterilize anything. Use oak, grape or horseradish leaves (even tea if you can’t find the above fresh). Don’t cut the ends off its completely unnecessary. Do trim the flowers off the cukes. Do loosen the jars every day or two to let the carbon dioxide out, or the jars will explode. Use carrot sticks to keep the contents submerged. Water is the old-fashioned version of an air-lock. My pickles are perfect and crunchy after sitting at room temperature for 4 weeks but they taste great at day 19 as well!

  53. Just opened my first jar.. per your recipe!!

    Unbelievably deeeeee-licious.

    Thank you for that.

    brigit

  54. I can’t find any fresh grape leaves. Do you think using Kefir lime leaves would work?

  55. These pickles are so awesome!!! I just used English cukecumbers. Love them with cloves–but they get sharp if you use too many.

    I saw in one comment you can use the juice for salad dressing or soup (but then it loses its probiotic qualities), which is a great idea. Any more ideas? Seems too good to waste, but too salty to just drink. Can it be used as a yogurt starter? For cashew or coconut yogurt, as rejuvelac would. I have been putting it in the compost to make it go faster until I come up with better ideas.

    1. I also wash my benches down with extra pickling brine occasionally, I want all those good bacteria in our environment. just wipe on and leave to dry, then rinse down with clean water… pushes out the bad bac’s if there are any places for them to hide., small crevices and joins etc. I usually do the benches with vinegar, though. I also pour some brine into any sinks or drains that have standing water and leave it to sit 48 hours before using again. the salt and acids kill moulds and the good bac’s gun down the bad bac’s.

      I also make a herbal punch… mix half brine and half water and add any herbs you like, and a couple slices of lemon. Stand for four hours and then drink it over ice in summer. Not too much though! the salt!

  56. These pickles are very salty. I think next time I will use 1 tbs instead of 2. It’s overpowering to the point you can barely taste the garlic, dill and pepper.

    The pickle is also a bit flabby. I didn’t use oak leaves because I’m not an expert on leaves. One site said to use White Oak leaves. That means I have to study the different leaves then find them, with confidence. Anyway, the bottom line is my Boston pickling cucumbers were very salty.

  57. Hey there, I followed your recipe and after 5 days on the counter both jars grew mold on the top, (blueish green and white) what can I do next time to avoid the mold???? 🙁

    1. I’m wondering the same thing! Same exact thing happened to me.

  58. Our family friend told us about your website over a year ago and we have benefited greatly from low to no carbs. Your advice, along with the website title is a bit contradicting…reminds us of a small tavern somewhere in the Rogue Valley ,Oregon. A grumpy old waitress at the Fish ‘n Chips Tavern asked for our order. When we chose fish and chips , she all but yelled in exasperation, ” we don’t have fish ‘n chips here, that’s just the name of the place !!! I do really wish that apples were on the menu for daily consumption, But C’est la vie, huh ?

    1. Haha. But you can have your apple and eat it……..I include 1 piece of seasonal fruit per day in my diet, as fresh and organic as I can find. I think if you are eating Primal for health then fresh fruit is ok, but if you are trying to lose weight then fruit should be limited.

  59. Both my children are sensitive to yeast. To much makes them very sick. I have been reading that anything pickled contains yeast. I have been making & eating homemade pickled items for as long as I can remember. I have never added yeast. Does this naturally occur? Is it still safe for my kids to eat pickled items? I hope so! It is one of their favourite this to eat. Please clarify.

  60. Fermented pickles will keep for up to a year in the refridgerator in the original brine. Storage was the original purpose for fermenting food in the first place. Vinegar use just kills the lacto bacillus that you are trying to introduce back into your diet. If you are going to add vinegar after the ferment then why bother fermenting in the first place?

  61. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I love pickles but hate the amount of salt used… I only buy sauerkraut that is refrigerated without all the junk… love the stuff. Took a course at the Kushi Institure and learned to make fermented veggies… just so goof for your health.

  62. Discovery! I have just started using the plastic pickling containers available at H-Mart, a Korean supermarket. I figure if the people whose national food is kimchee have developed these plastic fermenting containers, that’s good enough for me. They come in a number of sizes, have an inner seal layer with a tiny gas vent to keep the goodies submerged, and the locking lid has a handle. I live in a loft, no basement, no extra space, but these guys stack in a corner out of the way, so I can have multiple ferments going on. So far I have a 5 liter one making sauerkraut and just started a smaller one of half sours. Putting up pickles has never been this easy! If you can find a store for these, try it. It’ll change your pickling life.

  63. was told about making pickles like this by a friend. gonna try it. have been making sauerkraut for a long time in buckets or a crock. but now I will use the wide mouth canning jar method… quart or half-gallon. also… i make veggie mix of mostly cabbage but with all sorts of other ingredients.

    since eating them, my wife and I both have all but eliminated acid reflux, indigestion, heart burn or what ever you want to call it. Good flavor in soup or stir fries.

    There once was a man name Perkins
    Who loved to eat dill gerkins.
    One day, at tea,
    He ate forty three,
    And pickled his internal workins.

  64. I’ve just made sauerkraut, kimchi, and cucumber, carrot, and green bean pickles… at least 4 litres of each… should do for the next 6 months! I sometimes just want to open the ‘packet’ and eat, just from being extremely busy… thi pickle jar is my answer to this necessity

    Bay leaves have plenty of tannins for this crunchy pickle thing!

    1. And I’ve never had mould or yeast in any of my glass jars. I also do a final rinse of my hands in kefir, before chopping vegetables… just to give the bacteria numbers a boost whilst packing the jars.

    2. Gloria, I just read your comments about how much you “pickling” you did. I just posted a question, but thought you might know the answer. Is there a way of preserving the pickles to last for at least 6 months? I just bought 10 lbs of kirby cucumbers for pickling but am now understanding that they will only last a short while after fermenting is done.

  65. I followed this recipe, and the pickles went moldy! What went wrong?

  66. That salt-to-water ratio is kind of obscene – I completely ruined a batch using 3 Tablespoons of salt to 4 cups water (the pickles were so salty they were literally inedible – and I love salt), so this recipe is actually kind of terrifying.

  67. First time I had a real pickle was a few months ago. Before then I was only used to store bought. I really want to try making pickles myself or buy from a special vendor.

  68. Do you have recommendations for the actual amount of each of the optional seasonings mentioned in the pickle recipe?
    Optional seasonings: red pepper flakes, hot chiles, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, celery leaves, bay leaves, fresh herbs, onion, cinnamon stick, cloves.

  69. I just purchased 10lbs of kirby cucumbers thinking I could ferment them and they would last for a while. In reading above, I realize they will only last a few days after fermented. Is there a way to preserve/can them to make them last longer?

  70. I love the idea of cutting a cucumber in half and using that to hold down the veggies in the brine! I’ve heard of people using fancy weights or other contraptions – but this seems so much simpler! Why not just make two giant half-cucumber sized pickles all while holding down the real gold underneath them? Thanks for sharing!

  71. I’ve tried making fermented foods myself but have never been happy with the flavour. I recently bought a store-bought jar of fermented cucumbers (not vinegar pickles) and I love them. I’m wondering if anyone has had any success in adding cucumbers (or other vegetables- cabbage? carrots?) to store-bought fermented brine and having them ferment in the existing liquid with the same taste, much as one would use sourdough starter from batch to batch?