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Lacto-Fermented Pickles

Lacto-fermentation is great for healing from digestive distress. It introduces beneficial bacteria, enzymes and essential vitamins into your gut, as well as pre-digests - or breaks down - the food before you even consume it. Add a small portion of lacto-fermented foods to your diet if you suffer from celiac disease, leaky gut or other digestive distress.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Condiments
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy condiment recipes, fermented foods
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 4kcal
Author: Jenny Finke


  • 1-2 lbs. 2-3 inch cucumbers (pickling cucumbers)
  • 1 wide-mouth mason jars (1 quart)
  • Bunch of dill weed with seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (or non-iodine salt)
  • 2 dried red chili peppers - optional
  • 1 tsp. distilled vinegar (scant)
  • Water to fill up each jar


  • Sterilize mason jars and lids. You can run the jars through the dishwasher and boil the lids for 1 minute.
  • Wash pickles in a cold water bath. Gently scrub pickles to ensure they are clean.
  • (If pickles are a big soft, soak in cold water bath for 2 hours - it will perk them up.)
  • In mason jar, add 1 Tbsp. salt, 1-2 chili peppers, 1-2 garlic cloves and small bunch of dill weed.
  • Layer pickles until jar is packed tight with pickles (use the small and curved pickles on top and to fill in gaps). You want the pickles packed tightly and firmly so they don't move.
  • Add vinegar.
  • Next, fill each jar with water to fully cover pickles but leave an inch of open space at the top. Do not fill the jars to the rim.
  • Seal jars tightly and store on a rimmed baking sheet (in case of leaks) on your countertop in a cool, dark place.
  • Check pickles every 1-2 days. If the pickle jars look like they're about to explode, you can “burp” the lid (open it for a second), which will allow the carbon dioxide to escape. Don't leave it open too long as you will introduce more oxygen into the jar and oxygen can create mold. The brine will become cloudy and bubbly over time, which means the fermentation is working. You should see your pickles change to a dull olive green color too.
  • You can eat the pickles after 1-2 weeks (depending on how pickled you like them). Simply check them daily. Keep them stored in a cool place (like your basement) after 2-3 days of fermenting on your countertop. (If they are moldy or smell foul, discard, something went awry with your ferment.)
  • When the pickles are at your desired taste and texture (usually 2-3 weeks), store them in the fridge until you eat them.
  • Pickles can last 6+ months after pickling (for best results), however, they can be eaten for years afterwards too (they just might be softer).


A successful pickle ferment will show the following signs:
  • Bubbles will rise to the top of the surface and air pockets may form inside the jars. This is carbon dioxide and the sign of a healthy ferment.
  • The skin of the pickles will turn from bright green to an olive or army green. Also, the interior of the pickle will be translucent vs. white once fermented.
  • The brine will turn cloudy - this is lactic acid. You want to see this happening.
  • Pickles will sink in the jar vs. float. The pickles will be absorbing the salty water (brine). The cucumbers gravity increases while the brine's gravity decreases.
  • When you bite into a fermented pickle, it will have a carbonated, fizzy taste. This is great! Pickles will taste tangy and effervescent (carbonated). All good stuff!
When you're ready to open your pickles, I highly recommend doing it over the sink. The ferment is powerful and the bubbles may fix everywhere (it's like opening a shaken can of soda).
Not all ferments are successful. Don't fret, it happens.
If you see blue-green mold spores on top, it's rotten, toss it. Also, if it smells horrid when you open the jar, it's a bad batch. I might mean you forgot to add the salt, you stored the pickles in too warm of an environment, or something bad got into the jar and you didn't realize it. Again, it happens. Toss it and start over as there's no use crying over moldy pickles.


Calories: 4kcal | Sodium: 358mg | Potassium: 38mg | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.1mg