Are you all ready for this easy recipe to make your own old-fashioned, brined lacto-fermented dill pickles?
This pickling process requires no heating or boiling, no refrigeration, no vinegar. They keep for months if prepared properly, which I can attest to because I still have a few jars we are eating from last summer. There are a grand amount of health benefits such as enhanced digestibility, maintaining a healthy flora in the digestive system, producing helpful enzymes as well as antioxidants and anti-carcinogenic substances. The rapid increase of lactobacilli also supports increased vitamin levels.
They’re so good for you!
First of all, figure out what your container is. I have a huge crock – it holds 5 gallons. I am able to pack about 10 lbs of fresh pickling cukes into it with the added brine and etc..
Wash all of the cucumbers you’re going to be pickling. If they’re whoppers, don’t even bother because they’re likely going to get mushy in the middle. I know there are great recipes for those biggies, so set them aside for that. The cucumbers that work best for me are about 5-6 inches long, about 2, 2.5 inches in diameter.
Wash them, as I mentioned, scrubbing off any impurities. The stem end should be cut short, 1/4 inch or so is permissable. The blossom end should be scrubbed and perhaps shave off about 1/16th of an inch.
At the bottom of the crock I lay peeled garlic cloves, peppercorns & fresh dill, then add cucumbers and a layer of grape leaves. The grape leaves come off the vines that grow wild in our woods. Then I repeat the process until I’ve run out of cucumbers.
I cover all with the brine I’ve prepared ahead of time – simply water & salt. For every quart of water used, I’ve dissolved 2 tablespoons of sea salt into it first. For a 5-gallon crock, I prepare about 3 gallons of brine.
After I pour the brine to cover, making sure the cukes and peppercorns, garlic & dill have a good smattering of grape leaves throughout, I then add a couple of slices of rye bread. That is the trick that the pickle guru in our town taught others that I have had chance to interview about how they make their pickles. It’s so much fun, they all say, in hushed tones, “now here is the secret! You add a slice or two of rye bread at the top! That helps the fermentation to get a jumpstart!”
It’s so fun because every one of them thinks they know something that no one else knows, except for Art Jones who was the pickle guru they learned it from. (Joneski’s pickles – his stall used to be at the Shaftsbury Farmers’ Market right next to mine back in the 90s.)
So the bread goes on top and then I add a sheet of plastic wrap to tightly cover the top of the crock. It is good to add a rock or plate to weight it down. The trick to good lactofermentation is to make sure the cucumbers are completely covered with the brine.
Note about the brine:
Beneficial organisms found in good soils are also on the surfaces of the vegetables. They feed on the carbs in the cucumbers, or other vegetables, and produce organic acids, enzymes & beneficial bacteria.
The acids form the brine that preserve the cucumbers. They preserve the cucumber and prevent spoilage. Pretty awesome.
This is a no-oxygen party. If the cucumbers are not covered with brine, they’re going to have a hard time fighting spoilage. So you can do it. Cover ’em up, seal ’em tight, weight the seal down and let the lactofermentation party begin!
- Salt for brine
- Seasonal garden vegetables(cucumbers for Dill Pickles)
- pickling spices(black peppercorns & fresh dill)
- leaves for crispness(we always use Grape leaves, but there are other leaves, high in tannins for retaining crispness, that are useable – check out what is available in your area and then research it before adding to your crock.)
- Prepare brine using two tablespoons of salt to one quart of water. Prepare first so the salt has a chance to dissolve before assembly.
- Wash & trim fresh cucumbers, making sure blossom end has been scraped or thinly shaved to remove any impurities.
- Prepare freshly peeled garlic cloves(for a 5-gallon crock I used about 20 cloves), fresh dill, black peppercorns(I use about 4 tablespoons for a 5-gallon crock.)
- Add some garlic, dill & pepper to the bottom of your container.
- Add leaves between layers of cucumbers and spices.
- Fill to top of container and then place 1 or more slices of rye bread to the top. Seal tightly with plastic wrap and weight the top with a stone or plate with a stone on top to keep the brine covering the cucumbers.
- After covering tightly and keeping at room temperature for three days, disassemble the top wrapping and check for doneness. If you think they’ve started pickling enough for your taste, you can transfer the pickles to cold jars for storage in the refrigerator. But if you wait a little longer, they will be a bit more fermented which makes them especially zingy!