Garlic Dill Pickles {Fermented}

Fermented PicklesFermented pickles, or pickles in brine, are not your average store-bought pickle! The pickles that you’re probably familiar with are made with vinegar and a high-heat canning process that kills most of the nutrients. Fermentation, on the other hand, uses no heat, a salt-water brine, and beneficial microorganisms that naturally preserve and enhance the nutritional value of your pickles! Read more about the benefits of fermented food {here}.

It’s generally hard to find naturally, fermented foods on grocery store shelves because, a. they are hard to produce in mass quantities, and b. the gases that the fermentation process gives off posses a risk to jars exploding on shelves. I have, however, been buying Pickles in Brine from my grocery store–I did a little jump for joy when I found them tucked away on the bottom shelf!  If you see pickles that are made using brine (salt + water) instead of vinegar, you know that they’re fermented and have a much higher nutrient content–so try them out! I much prefer the taste of pickles in brine over traditional vinegar-based pickles.

This year, I’m very excited to ferment my own garlic, dill pickles using dills from my very own garden. A truly local, organic batch of naturally fermented pickles–priceless.

*The garlic has been generously donated from my mother’s garden, and the dill from my neighbour’s 🙂

What You’ll Need

  • Pickle IngredientsSmall, pickling cucumbers
  • Fresh garlic
  • Dill flowers or dried, dill seed
  • Salt
  • Water (preferably spring water)
  • Mason jars, or jars with a snap lid
  • Black tea, raspberry, grape, or blackberry leaves (for tannins–this ensures a crunchy pickle!)

How to Make Garlic Dill Pickles in Brine

First, always ensure that your work surface and jars are clean and sterilized while fermenting, like you would with canning, so the bad-guy kind of bacteria doesn’t spoil your ferment.

Next, make a Basic Brine. You may need more or less brine than this recipe calls for depending on how many dills you have, but just start with this and make more if needed.

Wash your small, pickling cucumbers and trim the ends. Soak them for 30 minutes in ice-cold water if you haven’t just picked them.

Slice them lengthwise for easy, sandwich pickles, or keep them whole.

In each mason jar, place…

  • sliced or whole pickling cucumbers
  • 1-2 sliced, cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of black tea (or a raspberry, blackberry or grape leaf)
  • 1 tsp of dill seed (or a dill head),  and pickles in each mason jar.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers, but keep below 1″ of the jar rim.

Hold the cucumbers below the brine (because fermentation takes place in the absence of oxygen), using a regular-mouth mason lid, or a clean, zip-lock bag full of water. Cover the jar tightly with a lid.

Leave on your counter to ferment at room-temperature for 3-7 days. After about 1-2 days you’ll start to see small, bubbles rising to the surface. This is carbon dioxide that is created during the fermentation process and it means that it’s working!

Remove the bag/weight, and transfer to cool storage or fridge where they will continue to ferment, but at a much slower pace. I like to leave them to ferment at room-temperature for about 6-7 days before I transfer them to the fridge.

Will last for many months. I still have some from last year that just keep getting better and better!

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2 comments on “Garlic Dill Pickles {Fermented}

    1. Hi Janet. Yes, you can make ferments without salt, you can use sugar, whey, SCOBY’s etc., however, when fermenting pickles, you really need the salt. This is what wildfermentation.com says about salt (they are talking about sauerkraut, but the same applies for pickles.)

      “Some people promote the idea that salt-free sauerkrauts contain more beneficial organisms than salted krauts. I don’t believe that. The most specific beneficial bacteria we’re after, Lactobacillus, is salt-tolerant and abundantly present even in salty krauts; arguably, salt-free ferments are more biodiverse, but this diversity often results in mushy textures. Though it is possible to ferment vegetables without salt, a little salt results in far superior flavor and texture—and just as much beneficial bacteria. So again, salt to taste.”

      The pickles don’t taste salty after the fermentation process has taken over, so don’t worry about that. Canning pickles requires much less salt, if that’s something your in to, but they are nutritionally inferior, and in my opinion, so is the taste.

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