Fermented Pickles: Crisp Probiotic Pickles

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This fermented pickles recipe makes probiotic dill pickles that stay crisp and delicious.

Fermented pickles

How to make crisp probiotic fermented pickles

Are fermented pickles good for you? Homemade fermented foods, like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir, and pickles are so powerful. They have great health benefits, and often contain far more beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements (source)!

Fermented pickles are one of the best probiotic foods out there. They’re easy to make, and most people enjoy them right away, even if fermented foods are new to them. 

But, fermented pickles don’t always have the nicest texture. Not unless you know some tricks to keep them crisp and delicious!

If you’re interested in learning to ferment in a crock and are looking for one, I share my fermentation crock comparison here. Learn how to make sauerkraut in a crock here. Get my fermented beets recipe here. Some other of our favorite fermented foods are this fermented carrots recipe and this easy kimchi recipe.

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Fermented dill pickles recipes that stay crisp. How to make easy naturally lacto fermented pickles. #healthyrecipes #fermentation #health

The complete guide to naturally fermented pickles that stay crisp

My homemade fermented pickle recipe is for some basic, kosher style dill pickles. It can be customized, too. Feel free to swap out different ingredients, or add additional ones.

Add some red pepper flakes for spicy fermented pickles. Or, keep it really simple and just use cucumbers and water. Whatever floats your pickle boat! 

I’ve made quite a few batches of lacto fermented pickles in my day. Over time, I’ve come up with some different ways that really work to keep the texture nice and crisp:

  • Use fresh, crisp, good quality pickling cucumbers that are the right size (not too big) as soon as possible after harvesting
  • Remove the blossom end, as it contains enzymes that can lead to mushy pickles 
  • Soak the cucumbers in an ice bath for 15 minutes before making them into pickles
  • Use good quality mineral salt and good quality filtered water
  • Add grape leaves, oak leaves, black or green tea leaves, or bay leaves to add tannins to the brine
  • Keep the pickles submerged while they’re fermenting
  • Add 1 TBSP brine from Bubbie’s fermented dill pickles as a starter culture

Crisp probiotic pickles

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How to make fermented pickles directions

Ingredients:

  • 4-8 pickling cucumbers, depending on size
  • 2 grape leaves, 2 oak laves, some black or green tea leaves, some bay leaves, or 1 TBSP brine from Bubbie’s fermented dill pickles
  • 1 TBSP mustard seed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns 
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBSP mineral salt

Instructions: 

  1. Wash cucumbers and trim off the blossom ends. 
  2. Let cucumbers sit in ice water for 15 minutes.
  3. Put one of the leaves in the bottom of a quart jar, then pack cucumbers and other ingredients, just to the shoulder of the jar.
  4. Top jar with another leaf, and fill with filtered water to cover the ingredients, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top.
  5. Cover with a tight metal canning lid, and let ferment on counter until lid is taut and won’t pop back, usually in 3-7 days.
  6. Store in refrigerator or another cool place. 

When are lacto fermented pickles ready?

There are different methods to find out. Most of the time, the 3-7 day window in room temperature of around 70ºF will be the right amount of time.

The warmer the temperature, the shorter it will take for fermentation to happen, and the cooler the temperature, the longer it will take. 

Taste test the pickles after 3-5 days. If you like the taste, great! They’re done. If they still taste more like cucumbers than pickles, let them go for another day or two. 

Fermented pickles recipe

All about lacto fermentation

Whenever you’re making homemade fermented foods, there are some things to know to make sure they turn out right. We’re after delicious food, after all, not scary science experiments! Here are some guidelines for safe lacto fermentation at home:

  • Don’t overfill the jar. Fill the jar only to the shoulder. On a canning jar, this is the part of the jar just where it starts to curve, towards to top. 
  • Use the grape or oak leaves or fermentation weights to hold the food down under the brine. This will help prevent mold. 
  • You can use a fermentation lid, like an air lock lid, but it isn’t necessary. A metal canning lid will work just fine. Put it on the jar tightly, and let the ferment sit out on the counter. Once the lid is taut, and you can’t pop the flat part of the lid up and down anymore, the ferment is done. Move it to the refrigerator. 
  • Different starters are a good idea to experiment with. You can use only water and salt, or you can add starters like whey from homemade yogurt, kefir, or soured raw milk. You can also use commercial vegetable starter cultures, or some brine from a previous batch. Try different things and see what you like!

If you’re in the market for some fermentation lids, check out my complete fermentation lid review and comparison here

What’s normal when making fermented pickles?

If you’re new to making fermented pickles at home, you might be wondering what to look for. Here are some things that will tell you your pickles are turning out right:

  • Cloudy brine
  • Fizz
  • Bubbles
  • A pleasant, sour taste

You may not notice all of these things, and that’s okay. If you see anything like black or brown mold, that isn’t okay. Toss anything that doesn’t look or smell good. 

Storing fermented pickles

I like to let my fermented pickles ferment upstairs on the kitchen counter. When they’re done, I move them to a cooler place for longterm storage. 

I put one jar in our refrigerator for us to eat right away, and I put the rest of the jars down in our basement. I’m able to keep a whole year’s worth of fermented pickles from our garden this way. 

Trouble shooting fermented pickles

Sometimes a batch or pickles just doesn’t turn out right. There are so many factors that come into play, and it happens now and then to best of us.

Thankfully, there are still some ways use pickles that didn’t turn out perfectly. My favorite thing to do with pickles that are soft in texture but otherwise still good is to make some relish!

Here are some pickle troubleshooting tips and possible reasons for what went wrong:

  • Dark, discolored pickles: Mineral rich water, hard water with iron, discoloration from various spices. The pickles are still safe to eat. 
  • Hollow pickles: Sometimes cucumbers grow this way. They’re safe to eat. 
  • Shriveled pickles: The cucumbers were old, too much salt in brine. Safe to eat, but may not be as tasty. 
  • Slimy: The wrong microbes were allowed to grow, not enough salt, cucumbers didn’t stay submerged. These usually aren’t safe to eat and should be discarded. 

Fermented dill pickles

Ways to use fermented pickle brine

Once your fermented pickles are gone, don’t dump the brine! That stuff is full of healthy probiotic bacteria, and there are some great things you can do with it. 

If we feel like we’re coming down with a cold or flu, we’ll take a shot (or even a glass, if we’re brave!) of fermented pickle brine. It can stop a cold in its tracks! 

Another thing I like to do with leftover ferment brine is to use it as all or part of the liquid when making bone broth or meat stock. It adds saltiness and great flavor! 

Which pickles are fermented?

There are basically three different ways to make pickles: canned pickles, vinegar refrigerator pickles, and with a fermented brine. 

Vinegar refrigerator pickles can have some type of fermentation going on, depending on the type of vinegar you use. For example, raw apple cider vinegar has some probiotic benefits. But, lacto fermented pickles will have far more beneficial bacteria.

Canned pickles are not fermented at all. The canning process kills any bacteria that would try to grow.

When you’re looking for fermented foods to add delicious flavor and probiotic benefits, fermented pickles are the way to go. 

The history of the pickle

Where did pickles come from, anyway? Eastern European Jews immigrating to the US in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s brought different traditions from the old country. Pickles were one of these traditional fermented that they brought with them as they arrived in New York City. 

They made huge batches of pickles in barrels with cucumbers, salt, water, and spices, and left them to ferment for weeks or even months. The pickles were sold on pushcarts in New York City. Eventually, pickles spread far and wide, and they are now enjoyed all over the country. 

How to make fermented pickles

More fermented recipes

Sauerkraut

Zucchini relish

Sourdough starter

What fermented foods do you enjoy making?

What is your favorite kind of pickles? Share in the comments!

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Yield: 1 quart

Fermented Pickles: Crisp Probiotic Pickles

Fermented pickles

This fermented pickles recipe makes probiotic dill pickles that stay crisp and delicious. Homemade fermented foods have great health benefits.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 7 days 3 seconds
Total Time 7 days 10 minutes 3 seconds

Ingredients

  • 4-8 pickling cucumbers, depending on size
  • 2 grape leaves, 2 oak laves, some black or green tea leaves, some bay leaves, or 1 TBSP brine from Bubbie's fermented dill pickles
  • 1 TBSP mustard seed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns 
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBSP mineral salt

Instructions

  1. Wash cucumbers and trim off the blossom ends. 
  2. Let cucumbers sit in ice water for 15 minutes.
  3. Put one of the leaves in the bottom of a quart jar, then pack cucumbers and other ingredients, just to the shoulder of the jar.
  4. Top jar with another leaf, and fill with filtered water to cover the ingredients, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top.
  5. Cover with a tight metal canning lid, and let ferment on counter until lid is taut and won't pop back, usually in 3-7 days.
  6. Store in refrigerator or another cool place. 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Fermented Pickles: Crisp Probiotic Pickles”

  1. Can’t wait to try these out! I’m a tad confused – do I use just one type of leaf (either grape or bay for example) or do I add all the types of leaves or if I can’t get any leaves, then I use Bubbies?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. I would like to make a lot of pickles right now when the cucumbers are fresh from the garden. After fermenting, I won’t have space in my fridge for a large number of jars and I don’t have a cool place to store them somewhere else since it is summer. Any suggestions? Also, if they don’t go in the fridge, don’t they continue to ferment? Thanks!

    Reply
    • I have the same problem! I keep them in our basement, which isn’t perfectly cool, but they always do fine 🙂 They will continue to ferment, but if the temperature is a bit cooler it will slow the fermentation down. But even if it’s not perfect, it still works. I figure people in times past didn’t always have AC, etc. either 🙂

      Reply
    • I just picked mine from some nearby grape bushes – I’m not sure if you can buy them. Maybe a neighbor has some grape vines? Hope that helps!

      Reply

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