A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

When making homemade brined pickles, there seems to be many people that struggle with the process, usually resulting in soggy pickles that are not crunchy at all.

Some swear by adding grape leaves to retain a good crunch and others add whey to speed up the lacto-fermentation process. This age old practice is a simple, salt brine cure set out at room temperature for days, weeks, or even months.

The process of fermentation creates an ideal condition for the lactic acid-forming bacteria existing on the food surface to feed upon the sugar naturally present in the food. The lactic acid will continue to grow (or ferment) until enough has formed to kill any bacteria present that would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

The end result is a product filled with lactobacilli which produces numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. As far as flavor, the salt brine naturally sours the pickles and gives them a fantastic crunch.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

During the summer when the farmers markets are exploding with fresh vegetables, I like to naturally ferment many different varieties of pickles. I pickle whatever I have on hand, but generally my families favorites are asparagus, green beans with radishes, pickles, beets, cabbage, and cayenne peppers for hot sauce.

Small Batch Preserving

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

What I especially love about natural salt brine cures, or fermented pickles, is that they are easy to make and work well in small batches. It’s easy to fall into a mentality that we need a large quantity of fruit or vegetables to put up at one time.

For me, it’s so much easier and relaxing to put up a small amount of jars weekly. By the end of the summer I usually have a fridge filled with fermented vegetables that we eat into the winter.

I’ve been using this same pickle recipe for the past few years.  It’s very simple and relies on salt.  I don’t like to use whey in my ferments as I’ve found if you add enough salt and allow the pickle to ferment for at least two weeks up to two months, the end result is sensational.

Now that Big Brother is 7, he’s become our home pickle master which has been a tremendous help to me.  I love this getting older bit!

Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

Homemade pickled cucumbers are a cinch to make and doesn’t take long to prepare at all.

My number one secret to a crunchy pickle is to use freshly picked cucumbers from the farmers market or picked from your own backyard. The fresher the crunchier!

I always make my pickles as soon as I get home from the market. I don’t like to let them sit in the fridge for a few days as I feel this will impact that crunch factor. Fresh is best.

After I get the cucs home, Big Brother and I give them a good scrubbing to remove any dirt particles and flower ends. We then layer up the bottom half of a quart sized mason jar with the larger cucumbers.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

Big Brother then cuts the ends of two cloves of garlic and gives them a good smash with the back of his knife.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

Into the mason jar we add the garlic, 2 bay leaves, and just about a tablespoon of pickling spice.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

We then top the jar with as many more cucs as we can fit and add fresh dill. I then fill the jar with a salt brine and allow them to ferment for two weeks.

I like to burp the jar after a week.  Burping a jar means opening the lid and allowing the gasses produced from the fermenting vegetables to escape. You can taste a pickle at this time to see if it suits your taste buds.

Be aware that after two weeks, the water gets cloudy. This is completely normal.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

The end result is a pickle that tastes as it did in days past. Naturally sour, a bit fizzy, and crunchy.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

To see what the fizz of fermentation looks like, check out my video here. These pickles definitely taste different than a vinegar pickle, but I absolutely love them this way and I’m sure you will to.

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

Yield: Makes 3 Quarts of Pickles

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles are simple to make, taste sensational, and are nourishing to our bodies.

Ingredients:

  • 24 (or so) small 4"-5" pickling cucumbers
  • 6 cloves garlic, ends removed and smashed
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 tbls pickling spice(cloves, coriander, allspice, pepper, mustard seeds)
  • Fresh Dill
  • 6 tbls large granule sea salt (kosher salt)

Method:

  1. Properly clean 3 quart sized mason jars.
  2. Gently clean and remove flower ends from cucumbers.
  3. To each quart sized mason jar, stack the bottom with as many cucumbers as you can fit.
  4. Divide the pickling spice between the jars.
  5. To each jar, add 2 garlic cloves, and 2 bay leaves.
  6. Add a good amount of dill to each jar, then fill each jar with as many more cucumbers as you can fit. Do not allow the cucumbers to go up into the band area. Make sure there's 1" headspace between the top of the jar and the lid.
  7. On the stovetop, heat 1 quart of filtered water with 6 tbls of salt until it dissolves. Once the salt dissolves into the water, remove from heat. Add 1 1/3 cups of the salt solution brine to each jar.
  8. Fill the remainder of the jars with enough filtered water to cover all the ingredients.
  9. Place a lid on each jar and give it a good shake to mix the water and salt brine solution. Make sure to check after shaking that all the ingredients are submerged.
  10. Place the jar in a cool dark place for 2 weeks making sure to burp the jar after 7 days.
http://www.myhumblekitchen.com/2013/07/a-simple-recipe-for-homemade-natural-fermented-pickles/

Do you enjoy making naturally fermented pickles?  Please share with me your favorite vegetables to ferment.


65 Responses to A Simple Recipe for Homemade Natural Fermented Pickles

  1. I am definitely going to be trying this recipe after getting home from my CSA on Thursday! These look so good and easy to make!
    Laura Weymouth recently posted..#WriteMotivation Update–Oops, Missed Monday!

  2. Alexis says:

    Do u have a recipe for anything with hot peppers? I have tons right now and no idea what to do with them. Like tons lol I see above u mention something about making hot sauce….

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Alexis, I don’t have anything on the blog now but this is what I do. I gather the peppers. You can seed and de-vein them if you want. I then put them in a quart jar with nothing but filtered water and 2 tbls large granule salt. I let that ferment for at least two weeks, usually one month. After that time is up, I blend the entire contents of the jar, strain it, and have homemade hot sauce. It’s super yummy!

  3. Lara VanDis says:

    Is the taste of a fermented pickle similar to that of a dill pickle? Or is it more like a sweet pickle? Or neither…

  4. Kirsten says:

    How do you store them after the fermentation process? I love the taste of fermented pickles but don’t have enough room in the fridge. Would they have to be processed in a pressure cooker since there is no vinegar? I made a batch of fermented pickles and loved the different taste but missed that vinegary kick. And I wanted to can them so I added a touch of vinegar but mostly water in the jars with the pickles. After processing in a hot water bath, I liked the taste but the pickles had immediately turned soft and mushy- I am guessing from the addition of vinegar and the heat of the hot water bath. I was so sad to have ruined 3 weeks of fermenting :(

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Kirsten, unfortunately, fermented pickles can’t be canned. Once they’re raised to that temperature the beneficial bacteria will die. So you would definitely need to make sure to make pickles with the right amount of vinegar to ensure their safety. This is a big reason, I make small batches. I only store about 2-3 quarts in my downstairs fridge and keep one upstairs. One thing to keep in mind is it’s a good idea to ferment with the seasons. Ferment some pickles, once those are done, move to a different vegetable that’s in season. I’d recommend Wardeh’s book from GNOWFGLINS, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermentation. It’s a great resource and has many different recipes for vegetable and fruit ferments. Good luck!

  5. Jackie says:

    Hello! Once the fermentation process is finished, do you know how long these can be stored in the fridge? I have A LOT of cucumbers and, knowing my family, they’ll devour the first few and then slow down and I’ll have some excess. Thank you!

  6. Mary says:

    Can I slice the pickles and ferment them and can you please describe the ideal size and look of the cucumbers for this process? Thank you!

  7. Alissabeth says:

    My cucumbers ended up big at the top and pointy on bottom and very light green. Do you think they will work still? I haven’t tasted a raw one to test for bitterness, etc. I think it was lack of sun during development because something’s going on with my plant (another story) and they seem to be producing more uniform and dark now (in the small stage). Hoping for more as there are TONS of blossoms and bees out there!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Allissabeth, I totally know what you’re talking about! My cucs have done that before. I’d say give them a try! You really have nothing to lose, especially if they’re bitter. I think in the fermentation process, they’ll take on more sour notes and you won’t notice that bitterness so much. Go for it!

  8. Steph says:

    Yum, can’t wait to hit the farmer’s market this weekend to stock up on cucumbers-I am definitely going to have try this! They took some getting used to, but my hubby & kids have really gotten to like Bubbies brand fermented pickles but they are so expensive that they are reserved for special treats only…I’m sure homemade is more economical & taste better too!

  9. Merry Collop says:

    Diana, in the past when I have made pickles (Canned variety) I have dropped a whole jalepeno in with the baby cukes. The longer they waited prior to eating, the warmer they got. Just a nice hint of heat to the dills, and the neighbor boy had dibs on each pepper!

  10. I’m going to give it a try I have so many pickle cukes I don’t know what to do with them all !! Do you seal these with regular ball lids and then break the seal to burp them ?

  11. kathy says:

    All I do is slice the cucs longwise, pack into the jars, add halved green tomatoes and a few long green hot Cheyenne peppers, add 1 tsp canning salt, cover with boiling water to I/4 inch from top and seal…..they will keep for a year and they do not need to be fridgerated until opened.

  12. Julie Howard says:

    How long will these keep unrefrigerated? I am limited on fridge space, but have tons and tons of cukes from the garden.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Julie, traditionally large crocks of sauerkraut and pickles were kept in cold cellars or even dug underground for some time. I think if you have a nice COOL place to store them, then they can last awhile. Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact expiration date.

  13. Debbie says:

    i love making pickles, going to try this recipe. I do have a question, you said after 7 days , burp the jar. What is that. LOL

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Debbie, burping the jar means to open up the lid to let the gasses that were created by fermentation to escape. So just open it up, the contents will fizz, and then seal it back up.

  14. Any ideas how I could imitate the seal of a Mason jar with a recycled jar? We live in China, where believe it or not, I can’t buy Mason jars. I’m constantly on the hunt for good jars, but there’s no way to get that same signature seal. I’d love some suggestions.
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    • Roxie says:

      Carey, I used to live in China and in the market you can buy pickling jars, they are wonderful! Now that I am back in in America I miss them. I made refrigerator pickles in them all the time, but the Chinese make fermented food in them and don’t refrigerate them. They are bigger than a canning jar, with an unusual opening and lid. the top looks like a bowl with a inner opening and then a lid fits on it that simply looks like and inverted bowl. Hope that helps!

  15. Regina Vasta says:

    Thought I’d give this a try with green tomatoes. After 4 days, the garlic cloves have a green tint to them?? Since I’ve never done this before I’m very unsure of what’s normal, and what’s not. What do you think?

  16. Amy D. says:

    Oh, these look like fun! I’ll have to try it with our farmers market cucumbers soon!

  17. Tara says:

    I just tried making these today using a different recipe that says to leave the jars exposed to air instead of sealing them. Why does your recipe close the lid? I wonder what the difference is.

    Also, I only have little Mason jars on hand, and couldn’t pack too many in. Consequently, some spears are sticking out just a tiny bit. Will that spoil them? Why do they all have to be completely covered in water?

    I love the name Spain in Iowa. That would make my moniker Texas in Virginia, which is less exotic if surprisingly no less foreign!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I made these last week. Thank you!! They are the first crunchy pickles I have successfully made, lacto-fermented or not. My house is very hot right now, up to 80 degrees F during the day, and they were done in 4 days. They are delicious and taste just like Bubbie’s to me :)

  19. […] and tried my hand at pickles for the first time! There’s a super easy fermented pickle recipe here which I used. I hope they turn out! This summer is my first time doing a decent amount of […]

  20. Andrea says:

    I just burped my jars today. However, one jar wasn’t super fizzy and it had a white film on it. Should I throw out the pickles? It was just one or two jars out of 17 so it wouldn’t be a terrible loss. I also tried one and it was great! Thanks.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Andrea, I would skim the top and give it a good smell. From what I’ve learned from my local Weston Price Group is that if it smells okay, it usually is. Give one pickle a taste and see how it is.

  21. Diane says:

    OMG…..I made 2 jars of these exactly 2 weeks and a 1 ago, and they’re both gone already! These are FANTASTIC!! I was a little leery about the bay leaf, but whatever it did to the pickles was wonderful! I do have a question though. How long can these sit on the shelf without refrigeration? I’m going to be making more, but I don’t want to make too many and have them spoil. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  22. debbie T says:

    I just finished making my very first batch of fermented pickles, thanks to your recipe. Thank you so much for your detailed instructions. I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, and I harvested just under 3lbs of cukes this AM, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

    I sliced mine in half lengthwise so they’d fit better.

    I’m hoping they’ll stay down in the brine. One jar had a couple popping up, but I think I’ve secured them. I added one more quarter slice to that jar to keep it tighter.

    Thank you!!!
    debbie T recently posted..New Whole Foods Market in Melrose MA

  23. Alright I have a jar of these started. I’m excited to try them in two weeks!
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  24. Joan says:

    Hi Diana,

    I have a concern. I began the pickling process almost two weeks ago (2 wks this Sunday). I burped them at the one week point and they were just like your video. yay! My husband and son then burped it again a few days later, and I think he said burping it more than once was good. Hm. Well, tonight I went to burp it based on that new burping information and there was no fizz or bubbling at all. I put them in the fridge immediately. Now I feel badly about the dead fermentation instead of my happy live food. Do you think these pickles are safe (one big jar) if they haven’t fizzed for possibly two days, unrefrigerated?

    Thanks,
    Joan

  25. kyla says:

    Hi there,
    I’m really looking forward to trying out this recipe, as I love fermented pickles. I am wondering about how you sterile/ process / seal the jars before and after burping them? I am used to canning jam, but maybe this is not a concern here? I am concerned about spoiling.
    thanks much

  26. Linda says:

    TIP: To keep your pickles crisp, some people put grape leaves in the jar with the pickles, but how many people have grape leaves lying around? It’s the tannins in the grape leaves that keep the pickles perky and crisp, so all you have to do when your adding the contents to the jar is add a tea bag (one without a metal staple) and the tannins in the tea do the same thing as the grape leaves. My pickles stay crisp this way. Hope this helps.

  27. Maggie says:

    Best pickles I’ve made yet. I had been using a vinegar recipe until I found this one. I love the natural fermentation and they taste much better than the vinegar ones although sometimes I add a dribble of vinegar before eating if they aren’t sour enough. I wonder how long they are safe outside the fridge? I live in China and don’t have a large enough fridge. I have been thinking of leaving them on my porch for winter since it gets cold here.

  28. […] Jam (GF) from The Nourishing Home • Meyer Lemon Curd (GF) from The Nourishing Gourmet • Natural Fermented Pickles from My Humble Kitchen • Oatmeal Cookie Mix from Food Network • Pumpkin Spice Muffins […]

  29. We love pickles. I plan to make these with my boys over Christmas break. I think these would make EXCELLENT gifts for neighbors and friends, so I linked it up in my Homemade Gifts-in-a-Jar guest post over at Keeper of the Home! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you! :) Kelly
    Kelly @ The Nourishing Home recently posted..Favorite Homemade Holiday Gifts-in-a-Jar Ideas

  30. Barbara says:

    I’m wondering if these can be made with fresh carrot sticks or slices.

  31. […] goodness, what years of adding fermented foods to your diet will do. From sourdough, kombucha, natural pickles, beets, and kraut, I now can’t get enough of anything fermented with a bit of fizz – […]

  32. […] getting to know our local family farmers, visiting u-pick farms, raising backyard chickens, preserving some of our food, and learning simple cooking skills to nourish our […]

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