You’ve never made homemade fermented dill pickles? They’re simple and sublime!
Be warned: once you have, you’ll never buy pickles from the grocery store again. And if you’re a certain a pickle-hawking stork, you might want to start updating your resume…
Think all pickles are fermented? Think again– and learn the differences!
- 2-3 lbs./1-1½ kg. cucumbers (slicing or pickling varieties)
- 6 sprigs fresh dill
- 4-8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4-8 pieces fresh horseradish, cut into 1" slices
- 1 Tbsp./ 15ml peppercorns, mixed
- 1 quart/liter filtered water
- 2-3 Tablespoons/ 30-45ml fine sea salt (4.5 to 6.8% brine by weight)
- 2 tablespoons /30ml pickle brine (Optional)
- 1 grape leaf or other fruit tree leaf
- Scrape the tip off the flower end to ensure there are no flowering parts (enzymes & molds can make pickles mushy). Rinse off any dirt from cucumbers. If using slicing cukes, slice into ¾″ thick pieces. Leave whole if using pickling (Kirby) variety.
- To a clean half-gallon or larger glass jar or ceramic crock, add 2 garlic cloves, peppercorns and two dill sprigs.
- Add half of the cucumbers. Pack them as tightly as you can.
- Crush 1 garlic clove and a few more dill sprigs to the jar.
- Peel horseradish and slice into 1" pieces.
- Add remaining cucumbers, garlic cloves, horseradish and last few dill sprigs.
- Mix Brine: Add sea salt into filtered water. Stir until salt dissolves.
- Add liquid whey or pickle brine from a previous batch to container.
- Add a fruit tree leaf to jar (it will help the cukes stay crunchy!)
- Place a lid or plate that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the container on top of cukes. Add a weight like a jar or wine bottle filled with water. OR, If using a small batch fermentation kit, add the weight(s) to the jar.
- Slowly pour brine into jar until there’s enough to cover the contents.
- Cover container with a tea towel or clean dishcloth to keep dust and flies out, and secure with twist ties or a rubber band. OR if using small batch fermentation kit, apply the fermentation lid per the instructions.
- Place in a cool, dark spot in your house. Taste after 5 days. If still too crunchy (like a raw cuke), let ferment a few more days.
- White yeasts and mold may form on the surface that is exposed to air. THIS IS NORMAL. Remove weight and plastic lid, wipe or spoon out as much of the mold as you can, clean lid and weight with warm soapy water, dry thoroughly and add back to the jar.
- When you like the taste and texture, transfer to refrigerator and place a tight lid on container. Pickles will last up to 6 months in the fridge.
Once you have the basics down, you can infinitely vary the basic pickle recipe, with spices or other veggies! Here’s one for pickled green beans, and another for beet ‘n’ sour pickles (sweet like bread & butters), and for citrus-hopped pickles.
What I use for Small Batch Fermentation (in mason jars)
Usually I like to make batches of one to 3 gallons. However I also find it handy to ferment in wide mouth mason jars.
A few years ago I made a comprehensive review video series of various small batch fermentation devices. These all fit on a wide mouth mason jar, a popular style that comes in sizes ranging from one pint to a half-gallon. SPOILER: Masontops was the winning device of that review series. We resell Masontops products in our store: