Real, Honest-to-Goodness, Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles


Last week we put up 8 quarts of lacto-fermented dill pickles, and hope to do another batch this week. If you’ve never had a real, fermented dill pickle, then you’ve never had a dill pickle! Lacto-fermented vegetables like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi are incredibly good for you. They have higher vitamin content, are more digestible, and have a plethora of good bacteria. Here’s what Nourishing Traditions says: 

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.” (p. 89)

Lacto-fermentation is an ancient preservation technique that’s been used all over the world throughout human history. It happens when friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria convert the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit into lactic acid. Not only does this preserve it and greatly increase the nutritional value, but gives it that distinctive tangy flavor! Store-bought, water-bath canned, and icebox pickles (even my favorite Nanny’s Delicious Ice Box Pickles) don’t have any of these health benefits.

The fermented pickles are simple to make! Here’s how we did it:
The key to crunchy pickles is to start with COLD cucumbers. Either refrigerate them until you’re ready to begin, or soak them in an ice-water bath for several hours beforehand to cool them down. I’ve also heard that adding grape or oak leaves will produce crunchiness, due to the tannins in the leaves, but I haven’t tried that yet.

We started with eight clean one-quart canning jars, putting 1 tsp dried minced garlic, 1 tbsp dried minced onion, and 1 tbsp mustard seed in each one (keep in mind that all my measurements are approximate…you may need to adjust for taste or your jars, etc.).
Next we stuffed each jar with pickles.
Then, we added several sprigs of dill to each jar.
Finally, we added about 2 cups of water with 1-2 tbsp of Real Salt and 2-4 tbsp of whey to each jar (pickling salt will work too, and if you don’t have whey you can add more salt), making sure to completely cover the cucumbers but leave an inch of space from the top of the jar.
We put lids on the jars and will store them in our pantry for about a week before refrigerating them, checking them every couple of days and skimming off any “scum” that forms on top. We’ll let them ferment several more weeks in the refrigerator before we begin using them. The best thing to do is “taste-test” them every week or so and decide when they’re to your liking.
One other quick tip: after a day or two we noticed that the pickles in some of our jars weren’t staying down below the brine solution, so we used plastic kids’ cup lids (the kind that come with kids’ meals at restaurants) inserted in the jars to hold them down, then put the jar lids back on.I’m looking forward to some delicious and healthy pickles in a few weeks’ time!

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Comments

  1. Wow that looks mouth-watering yummy… my mom is bringing some canning jars when she comes to visit in a few weeks, so we'll give that a go!

  2. Those really look good, Kara. It's almost like you're making your own vinegar in the jar?My cucumbers didn't make this year. I'm not sure why. But I replanted so we'll see what happens.

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