How to Make Fermented Pickles

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Interested in fermenting food? Start by making delicious fermented pickles that will be ready within 3-4 weeks.

Fermented Pickles Recipe

Yields

1-gallon container

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs of 4-inch pickling cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp dill seed or 4 to 5 heads fresh or dry dill weed
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (5 percent)
  • 8 cups water and one or more of the following ingredients:
    • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
    • 2 dried red peppers (optional)
    • 2 tsp whole mixed pickling spices (optional)

Smaller Quantity Recipe

Yields

1/2 gallon container

Fermented Pickles recipe

Procedure

Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4-inch of stem attached. Place half of the dill and spices on the bottom of a clean, suitable container. For more information on containers see “Suitable Containers, Covers, and Weights for Fermenting Food,”. Add cucumbers, remaining dill, and spices. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers. Add suitable cover and weight. Store where the temperature is between 70ºF and 75ºF for about 3 to 4 weeks while fermenting. Temperatures of 55º to 65ºF are acceptable, but the fermentation will take 5 to 6 weeks. Avoid temperatures above 80ºF, or pickles will become too soft during fermentation. Fermenting pickles cure slowly. Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. Caution: If the pickles become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them. Fully fermented pickles may be stored in the original container for about 4 to 6 months, provided they are refrigerated and surface scum and molds are removed regularly.

Canning Fermented Pickles

Canning fully fermented pickles is a better way to store them. To can them, pour the brine into a pan, heat slowly to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Filter brine through paper coffee filters to reduce cloudiness, if desired. Fill a jar with pickles and hot brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as recommended in Table 1, or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described below.

The following treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Place jars in a canner filled halfway with warm (120º to 140ºF) water. Then, add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water enough to maintain 180º to 185º F water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185ºF may cause unnecessary softening of pickles.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Fermented Pickles in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Raw Pints 10 min 15 20
Quarts 15 20 25

Resources

National Center for Home Food Preservation. 2018. Preparing and Canning Fermented Food.

Written By

Candice Christian, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionCandice ChristianArea Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety Serves 33 CountiesBased out of Agricultural & Human SciencesCall Candice Email Candice Agricultural & Human Sciences
NC State Extension, NC State University
Posted on May 20, 2020
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