Lacto-fermented dill pickles are a homemade treat that is tasty and incredibly healthy! These are not quick pickles and you should set aside a few hours to coordinate all the tasks. They are not salty but tangy and pungent. I hope your pickles come out crunchy, salty, and flavorsome! Ideal if, like me, vinegar pickles are too strong for you. Be sure to check out my tips at the end. Yes, the moon will affect your fermentation. Please read all instructions before starting!
1 tsp. sea salt per 1 cup filtered water
INGREDIENTS FOR ONE GAL. CROCK OF PICKLES
- 10 – 14 cucumbers, about the length of your palm
- 16 tsp. sea salt
- 16 cups filtered water (see tips)
- Handfuls of dill flowers/seeds/fresh sprigs (see tips)
- 5 – 8 cloves of garlic, peeled & lightly crushed with the flat side of your knife
- 5 – 8 fresh raspberry/currant/bay leaves
- 1-gallon crock or jar
- Fermentation weight
- Cutting board
- Stainless steel stockpot
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
DIRECTIONS FOR PREPARING THE BRINE
- Add 16 cups of filtered water to a clean stockpot.
- As the water is heating, add 16 teaspoons of sea salt.
- Stir as needed until the salt dissolves.
- Sea salt will have some insoluble grit. This will not affect the brine or pickles.
- The goal is to heat the water just enough to dissolve all the salt
- Once dissolved, set aside to cool while preparing the cucumbers.
DIRECTIONS FOR PREPARING CUCUMBERS, AROMATICS & CROCK
- Rinse cucumbers and trim off both ends about 1/2 – 1/4 inch. (see tips)
- Place all desired aromatics except fresh leaves at the bottom of the crock or jar.
- Stack cucumbers horizontally in perpendicular layers, like logs.
- Place one or two raspberry/currant/bay leaves between layers.
- Save the longest cucumbers for last to wedge the rest down.
- Place remaining leaves on top of the final cucumber layer.
- Place stone follows/weights/ramekin on top of cucumbers. Adjust as needed so the weights do not slip around.
DIRECTIONS FOR PICKLING
- Test brine temperature. It should be 100-110°F. You can also wait for it to cool to room temperature, but I like to pour it in warm to give the bacteria a warm start.
- Slowly pour warm brine down the center of the opening.
- Fill the crock with brine to fully submerge the pickles and weights.
- Gently lift and tap the crock to release some air bubbles. If you pour slowly, you can avoid most air bubbles.
- Place the lid on the crock. Don’t fill the moat yet!
- Place crock in a warm location. If your crock is clear, wrap it in tin foil or place it in a dark spot.
- Once crock is in its final location, fill the moat with water.
- Jiggle the lid a bit to release some air bubbles.
- Wait 3-7 days for fermentation to complete, checking the signs every 24-36-hours (checking extra is ok, too):
- Water will turn cloudy like rice water after 12-36 hours.
- Foam bubbles will float to the top. That’s the CO2 emitted by lacto-bacteria.
- The water will smell sour, slightly pungent, and aromatic.
- If any debris floats to the top, promptly remove with a clean spoon.
- If spidery kahm yeast forms on the surface of the water, skim it off with a clean spoon or fine mesh sieve.
DIRECTIONS FOR RETRIEVING PICKLES AND STORAGE
- Once the pickles smell nice and sour, it’s time to remove. Remove after 3-4 days during the summer. It can take up to 7 days in the winter.
- Storing in the brine will make the pickles mushy.
- Remove the weights and leaves. You may see white patches or streaks on the pickles. That’s the lacto-bacteria and it’s safe to eat.
- Store pickles in a glass or BPA-free plastic container in the refrigerator.
- Discard the aromatics and garlic. You can save hot peppers for chopping up for jalapeño + cilantro yogurt sauce
TIPS & SUPERSTITIONS
- Plan accordingly and never pickle under a full moon. Follow the zodiac calendar and avoid pickling during phases that are “below the waist”, else your pickles will turn out mushy or fail to ferment.
- Keep it clean! Everything is raw and uncooked, so practice good kitchen hygiene.
- Add 4-5 jalapeño or 1-2 chili peppers to add some heat to your pickles.
- Mustard, dill, fennel, celery, and colorful peppercorns are excellent additional flavors. Experiment with flavors you enjoy.
- Use your judgement! If it smells weird and tastes bad, don’t consume it! You will be sad, but that’s better than getting ill.
- You can use this same lacto-ratio for lacto-fermenting:
- Hot peppers like jalapeño, cheyenne, Thai chili, tabasco, habanero
- Long green beans