It’s not as hard as you might think and takes such a short amount of actual “work time” that I think it’s worth it to never buy another pickle jar for the rest of your life. I haven’t!
The Benefits of Homemade Pickles vs. Store Bought Pickles
The benefits of the old-fashioned way over the new-age pasteurization way are many but here’s just a few:
- Life – you’re eating a living food full of life and vitality
- Ingredient variations – you can make them taste exactly how you’d like (too salty? not salty enough? mouth watering yet?)
- Pickle variations – The permutations of the type of things you can pickle are limitless and you don’t even need to use cucumbers! (watermelon pickles anyone?)
- The nutrients are higher since nutrients are not destroyed in the pasteurization process
- No chemicals since you are the one in charge of quality control
- Freshness – you can walk out to your garden or go to your local farmer’s market and make pickles that have just been picked
- Flavor – the boldness of flavor cannot be compared when you’re talking about real pickles made by lacto-fermentation instead of pickles that have been made with dead vinegar
The Benefits of Store Bought Pickles vs. Homemade Pickles
Store bought pickles do have a couple benefits over homemade ones but it’s usually only companies that reap these benefits but they’re worth noting:
- Storage life – since everything is dead, it can literally sit on the shelf for years without going bad
- Homogenization of flavor and predictable results – the pickles from every jar you open will taste the same (How boring is that?)
Homemade Dill Pickle Recipe
Makes 1 quart jar of pickles
(for 1 gallon multiply ingredients by approx. 4)
This is my favorite recipe for crunchy, salty, slightly garlicy pickles to put on sandwiches or to just crunch into. Towards the end of the ferment, the aroma these beauties give off is irresistible to walk near.
1 quart mason jar, wide-mouth, cleaned
1 half pint mason jar, cleaned (jelly jar for weight)
Plate (for overflow)
Pickling cucumbers, enough to fill mason jar (usually about 3-4 medium pickling cukes)
1/2 T. dill, dried OR 1 1/2 T. dill, fresh
4 garlic cloves, smashed
Non-chlorinated water, enough to fill jar when packed
Sea salt, to taste (I use 3/4 T. to 1 cup water ratio, but you can use less)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 hot peppers, sliced lengthwise (for spicy)
1/4 onion, sliced (for strong onion flavor)
Scrub cukes clean of dirt under running water.
Slice or scrape the blossom ends off (this is supposed to keep them crisper).
Put the quart mason jar on the plate in case of overflow. Pack cukes either whole, sliced lengthwise, or cut however you like them enough to create a tight fit in the mason jar. I usually cut one in half to make a tight fit up top.
Put remaining ingredients in jar, shake or move ingredients to fill the crevices.
Mix the water and sea salt, pour enough into the jar to cover, and leave a 1/2 inch to 1 inch gap at the top.
Insert small mason jar into the mouth of the large one enough to submerge ingredients in the larger jar below the water line. Pour more water into the side if more water is needed. If the jars float, fill with water/something to weigh it down. I try to fill them just about to the top but you’ll have to remember that it will overflow.
Leave on the counter to ferment anywhere from 3-7 days. The temperature in my house is usually about 72 degrees F so 3 days is what I like. Try a slice of a pickle everyday to see what crispness or sour level you enjoy.
Here’s how they looked after they were done being prepped:
This is day 1:
This is day 2:
This is day 3 (which is how many days I like at 72 degrees F with the amount of salt I used):
Once fermentation is to your liking, put in the fridge or a cool root cellar where it should keep for quite a while (I have some from more than a year old).
Don’t forget to label your pickles with the date or you’ll never remember when you put them in the fridge!
Extra Notes and Observations
On a few extra notes below, you can see that they start to change to a slightly yellowish color and start getting cloudy which is completely normal. You’ll also see bubbles coming up from the pickles and bubbling away on the top like you see in this picture below on Day 2:
If you want to be a science nerd and do some pH testing, you can try some simple pH strips to start off and see what the pH is when you start which should be about neutral or almost 7.0. As soon as I got done I checked the pH and it looks like it’s somewhere in the 5 range. Unless the top one wasn’t working (orange), the bottom one almost looks more in the 4.5-ish range:
I hope you enjoyed this post on making homemade dill pickles through a salt brine from lacto-fermentation! They’re very delicious! Let me know what you think in the comments section below or if you have any great ideas, as always, let me know about it!