Make your own zesty fermented cucumbers (homemade pickles) in just a few easy steps. A quick and easy way to get more fermented foods into your diet.
This recipe is an oldie but goodie. I originally posted it in January of 2013 and am sharing it again with updated photos.
So we all know that fermented foods are good for us. And homemade pickles are the BEST. Making them at home ensures that you are actually getting the beneficial probiotics of fermented foods. Store-bought pickles are usually brined in vinegar and pasteurized, killing any beneficial organisms.
I keep this recipe pretty simple. My family prefers plain old pickles, but you could add anything that sounds good, like garlic, hot peppers, or other spices.
These fermented cucumbers will turn out crunchy and zesty. And they will keep for weeks in the fridge. Who doesn’t love a good pickle? There really is something satisfying about making your own healing foods.
A 1999 study published in the LANCET, the world’s leading general medical journal, found a decrease in asthma, skin problems, and auto-immune disorders in Swedish children from the consumption of lacto-fermented foods.
Lacto-fermented means that the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria present on the surface of all living things. The “lacto” portion of the term refers to a specific species of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus.
Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. All you have to do is to add SALT. Bacteria that could be harmful to us can’t tolerate much salt, but there are healthy bacteria that can. Lacto-fermentation wipes out the bad guys , then lets the good guys get to work . The product is a living food, full of enzymes and probiotics.
Benefits of fermented foods:
- Fermented foods improve digestion.
- Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.
- Fermenting foods actually increase the vitamin content of the food.
- Eating fermented foods helps us absorb nutrients more efficiently.
- Fermenting foods helps preserve our food for longer periods of time.
- Fermenting foods is inexpensive.
What equipment do I use for fermentation?
For shorter fermentations like this one, I like to use air-tight lids that fit wide mouth mason jars . They are super easy to use and work great.
You’ll want to add a weight on top of your fermenting foods so they stay below the brine. I use glass fermentation weights made specifically for that purpose. I know some folks get creative and use rocks or other clean/sterile items.
How much salt do I need for this recipe?
Cucumbers prefer a 3.5% brine in order to ferment properly, which is about two tablespoon of salt in one quart of water. If you are a fermentation nerd like me, a 3.5% brine is exactly 33 grams of salt in a quart of water. I use a food scale like THIS to measure my salt. But don’t worry, if you don’t have a scale, one tablespoons of salt in one quart of water is close enough.
How long do fermented cucumbers take?
There are many factors that affect the rate at which foods ferment, including temperature. The ideal temperature for vegetables ferments is 68′ to 72′ F. Homemade pickles will ferment slower in cooler weather and faster in warmer weather.
The other factor to consider is personal taste. Fermented cucumbers will get zestier as they ferment. I check them after about 48 hours to see how they taste. Mine take anywhere from 2 and 1/2 days to 4 days to be perfect, depending on the time of year and what type of cucumbers I use.
Tricks for getting crunchy pickles:
Fresh…freshly-picked cucumbers are ideal. If you grow them yourself, make them the day you pick them. If you are buying them, try to get them from a local farmer’s market so they are as fresh as possible. At your local grocery store, look for local, firm cucumbers.
Pickling cucumbers… yield the crunchiest pickles that I have made, but i don’t always have access to them. I usually use regular old cucumber because that’s what I have.
Cold… soak cucumbers in an ice water bath for a couple hours. Submerging cucumbers in an icy bowl of water in the fridge will help them firm up/stay firm.
Trim the end… Cut off the blossom end of cucumber- the opposite end of where it was attached to the vine. The blossom-end of a cucumber is said to contain enzymes which can cause mushy pickles.
Want to know more about fermented foods?
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Make your own zesty fermented cucumbers (homemade pickles) with just a few simple steps. A quick and easy way to get more fermented foods into your diet.
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 1 quart of filtered water (chlorine free)
- 3 large cucumbers
OPTIONAL ADD INS
- 1/2 onion, sliced into thin rounds
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 2–3 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic
- one bay leaf
- 4–5 black peppercorns
- 2–3 small hot peppers
- Make a brine with 2 tablespoons salt and one quart of good quality water.
- Cut cucumbers into 1/2 inch slices (if you slice them too thin, they may get soggy.)
- Place cucumbers and any optional add ins that you desire into a 1/2 gallon mason jar.
- Pour brine over top to cover cucumbers. Add a weight to keep the sliced cucumbers under the brine.
- Place an airlock lid onto mason jar, wrap jar with kitchen towel to block out light, and place on kitchen counter for 2-5 days (depending on your taste preference) then refrigerate. **
I prefer to use airlock lids for fermentation to ensure that the fermentation remains anaerobic (no air gets in and no mold spores or other airborne microbes get in.) But if you do not have one, you can place any mason jar lid on it lightly (meaning don’t screw it on completely) so that air bubbles can escape as the pickles ferment.
You’ll want to add a weight on top of your cucumbers so they stay below the brine. I use glass fermentation weights made specifically for that purpose. I know some folks get creative and use rocks or other clean/sterile items.
Fermentation is affected my many factors, including temperature. These fermented cucumbers can take anywhere from 2-5 days to be perfectly sour, depending on the time of year and temperature. I would taste them after 48 hours and go from there. Everyone has a different taste preference.
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