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Packed Full of Goodness, Crunchy Lacto Fermented Pickles

Easy to make, delicious and nutritious, these fermented pickles are packed with flavor, probiotics and satisfying crunch. Who knew a dill pickle could be so beneficial to good health? It can be, if its lacto-fermented! Your tastebuds and gut will thank you!

Ingredients for Lacto Fermented Pickles

This recipe for a fermented pickles will have you foregoing the pickle section in the grocery store! By comparison, they are healthier than any dill pickle found in the condiment aisle. You will never buy another pickle again. They are easy and satisfying to make. No need for hot vinegar, or undergoing the usual water-bath canning procedure.

Simply make a saltwater brine, submerge the cucumbers in it with garlic cloves, fresh dill, and pickling spices. Then wait. You’ll have fermented pickles ready to eat within a week.

Another lacto fermented recipe to try is Two Ingredient Fermented Cabbage / Sauerkraut. It offers the same nutritional benefits as Lacto Fermented Pickles.

Science behind Lacto Fermented Pickles

This is the part I like. The salt in the brine causes the sugar in the cucumbers to leach out. The lactobacillus bacteria in the flora which is on the cucumber surface, eat the sugar and in doing so produce lactic acid.

The lactic acid adds a note of tangy sourness to the flavor. It also acts as a natural preservative as it controls the spread of spoilage microbes. So, no need to go through the whole canning process!

Jars of Pickles with Ingredients

About the Ingredients

Before we get started, let’s learn about the ingredients:

  • Pickling cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Dill
  • Salt
  • Pickling spices – coriander and peppercorns
  • Brine
  • High tannin leaves, such as grape, horseradish, black tea, or oak

Pickling cucumbers:

Your pickles will only be as good as your cucumbers. Fermented pickles are made from cucumbers that are shorter, narrower and have thicker skins than a regular salad cucumber. I like to choose pickles that are fresh and firm, and are uniform in size. I do not recommend English hothouse cucumbers, as their thin skin does not tolerate the fermentation process well. You will end up with mushy pickles. Instead use Persian, Lebanese, Kirby, or Northern cucumbers. I recommend visiting your local farmers’ market, however if you don’t live near one, then chat with the produce department manager at the grocery store about getting fresh pickling cucumbers.


Garlic with large cloves, they’re easier to peel.


Only use fresh dill, keep the dried dill on the spice rack! Use the flower and stem of the plant. Discard the woody part that’s close to the root.


Use any non iodized type of course salt for the brine. I recommend Celtic sea salt.

Pickling Spices:

Coriander and black peppercorns are my pickling spices of choice. The coriander will provide some floral and fresh notes to the brine, while the peppercorns add a fiery pungency. Use both spices in their whole form.


Now, I want to talk about the brine, aka salty water. Our goal is to make a 3.5% brine. (See the recipe card below for specific quantities.) This will provide enough salt for the sugars in the cucumbers to filter out, without over salting the pickles. Start with unchlorinated water, I used filtered tap water. Add the salt and using a large whisk stir solution until the salt has dissolved.


Finally, to ensure a crunch in each pickle you’ll need tannins. These astringent chemical compounds will not create crunch but rather preserve what crunch there is in the cucumbers, that’s why freshly harvested cucumbers are a must. The tannins deter the enzymes from breaking down the cell walls which makes the pickles soft. Tannins can be found in many tree and plant leaves. Easy to source leaves include grape, horseradish, and oak. I chose grape simply because I grow seedless grapes.

See recipe card for quantities.

How to make Lacto Fermented Pickles

Prepare Cucumbers

Firstly, soak, then rinse the cucumbers in cold water, this will remove dirt but not the oh so important bacteria needed for lacto fermentation. Then slice off the blossom end of the cucumber. The blossoms contain an enzyme that will soften the pickle if left on. To find the blossom end, look for the rough dot, instead of the smooth, indented dot at the other end of the cucumber.

Cucumbers on a board with ends sliced off

Rinse the Dill

Secondly, rinse the dill flowers and stems. I like to use the stems as well, they contain great flavor. Break them into pieces about 3 inches long. Throw away the woody part and root.

Bowl of dill flowers and stems

Peel Garlic

Thirdly, break individual garlic cloves out of the bulb root. Remove the peel from each clove. I like using a garlic peeler tube for this, it makes it easier and faster. (See equipment below.)

Bowl of peeled garlic

Wash the Grape Leaves

Then rinse and pat dry the leaves.

Bowl of grape leaves

Layer Ingredients into Pickling Crock

Layer the cucumbers, dill stems and flowers, garlic and grape leaves alternatively in a pickling crock. Place a couple of ceramic crock weights on top. These weights will ensure all the ingredients will be submerged in brine.

Pickling crock showing cucumbers and dill

Add Brine

Lastly, pour the brine into pickling crock until it covers the weights. Now we can rest assured all the vegetables and spices are submerged otherwise mold could develop. There should be about 1-2 inches of headspace. Cover jar with lid to keep dust or other foreign objects out.

Brine being poured into pickling crock

Preparing the pickles for lacto fermentation takes about 2 hours for 20lbs of cucumbers.

Once the cucumbers are in the crock, store them at room temperature (around 60 – 70 degrees F) for about 3-10 days. Check them after 3 days, the brine should be cloudy and bubbly, and the pickles should be sour. If on day 3 they are not ready, check again on day 4 and so on. Fermentation time will vary, my pickles were ready on day 5.

When you are satisfied they are ready, transfer pickles to mason / canning jars for storage. Before doing that, I like to run jars and lids through a high temp dishwasher cycle with no detergent added, even if they are new. Place as many pickles in the jars vertically as will fit. Add a couple of garlic cloves, a dill flower, a grape leaf and pickling spices. Then pour in brine until it reaches the top of each jar. No need to leave head-room as fermentation is complete. Make sure the lid forms a good seal with the jar. This part of the process takes about 45 minutes.

Flexibility of the Recipe

Flexibility with Ingredients

This recipe offer lots of flexibility with regard to the spices and vegetables that can be added to the cucumbers. Bear in mind, these variations will yield different flavor overtones but the flavor of the pickle with be the prevalent one. Feel free to swap out the garlic and dill and add alternative fresh veggies like sliced onion, ginger root or jalapeños, change out the peppercorns and coriander for fennel, mustard or celery seeds, or add spices such as broken up cinnamon bark and whole cloves.

Flexibility with Equipment

There’s flexibility with the equipment too. If you do not have a pickling crock, then use your mason / canning jars for the fermentation period and for storage. During fermentation, gas is produced so ‘burp’ the jar lid daily, (remove lid of jar, an effervescent pop will occur, put lid back on). You can also use a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band during fermentation. With this approach, no burping is needed. When fermentation is complete, replace the coffee filter with a sealing jar lid and store in the refrigerator.


Who can resist them in a burger? Slice them lengthwise and place them on a bun for burgers, Cuban, pulled pork and hot chicken sandwiches.

Although lacto fermented pickles are considered a condiment, they have so many more uses:

  • they’re great as a snack. Pack them for school lunches, and road trips.
  • as an ingredient in slaws and salads. I like to replace the sweet relish in potato salad with my lacto fermented pickles.
  • in devilled eggs, they don’t just provide flavor but crunch too.
  • use them instead of bread to make sandwiches. I make these often as an alternative to traditional sandwiches.
  • as a side dish, ever heard of bacon wrapped pickles? Now you have!
Board with three pickle sandwiches on it


Lacto fermented pickles will store in well sealed mason jars for up to 6 months, although they are best enjoyed within 2-3 months of fermentation.

Pickles do not freeze well. The texture becomes compromised and the pickles become soggy.

Got Questions?

I’ve got answers – hopefully!

Questions about Ingredients:

  1. What happens if I buy fresh cucumbers but then wait a couple of days to start the process? I would advise steeping the cucumbers in cold water for a couple of hours to perk them up a bit.
  2. What if I can’t get grape, horseradish or oak leaves? I suggest using black tea, either loose leaf or in bags. In a bowl, place the same number of tea bags (or equivalent amount in loose leaf) as number of jars you are using. Add boiling water. Steep for at least an hour and then pour the tea liquid and tea bags into the pickling crock. When fermentation is complete, and pickles are being placed in jars, ensure each jar gets a tea bag in it.

Questions about Fermentation:

  1. Will my pickles get moldy? No, not if you follow the directions above. As long as ceramic weights are used to submerge everything in brine, mold will not grow. Brine is used as a natural preservative.
  2. How do I know if my pickles are ready? After day 3 take one out. Cut a piece off and taste it. If the tangy sourness is at a level you like, then they’re done. If they are not particularly sour, let them ferment another day and repeat the tasting experiment. Once a desired level of sourness has been reached, then jar them up for the fridge.
  3. How do I know fermentation is happening? There are 3 indicators – gas will be produced so bubbles will appear in the brine, the brine will be cloudy and the vibrant green color of the cucumbers will begin to dull.
  4. Will I know if the fermentation process didn’t work? Yes you will! The smell will be the only indicator you need – it will smell like rotting broccoli.
  5. So after making this recipe I get lacto-fermented pickles and pickle juice, both are full of probiotics. Why not skip this and take a probiotic capsule? The capsule may not work effectively after a while because it contains the same bacteria that your body will become accustomed to. Eating an assortment of probiotic foods delivers the variety of bacteria your body needs to function optimally.

What went wrong:

  1. I noticed that fermentation happened but my pickles are not sour. What happened? The wrong temperature is what happened. If your room is too cold, (less than 60 degrees F), then fermentation won’t happen. If your room is too warm (more than 70 degrees), then fermentation happens too quickly and your pickles will over ferment. Ideal fermentation temperature range is 65-68 degrees F.
  2. Why are my pickles slimy? That’s due to the natural bacteria involved in fermenting. It’s harmless albeit not appealing.
  3. There’s a white film on the top of my pickling crock. Should I throw my batch of pickles away? NO! That is a kahm yeast, which is harmless and tends to form on fermented foods when a certain pH is reached. Simply skim the yeast of the top and carry on pickle fermenting!


Mason Jar

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Jars of pickles surrounded by ingredients used to make lacto fermented pickles

Recipe for Lacto Fermented Pickles

Lacto fermented pickles are easy to make at home yet require little to no skill. They are flavorful, and packed full of probiotics. You'll never buy a store bought pickle again!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Fermentation Time 3 days
Total Time 3 days 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 48 3 pickles
Calories 86 kcal


  • 20 pounds cucumbers Preferably around 3 inches long
  • 20 stalks dill heads 2 bundles of dill heads
  • 4 bulbs garlic
  • 330 g salt
  • 4 tbsp coriander
  • 3 tbsp peppercorns
  • 20 grape leaves
  • 2.5 gallons water


  • Prepare the cucumbers by soaking them in water in a large bowl for 10 minutes.  Then place them in a colander and rinse them under running water.  Set aside to drain.
  • Separate the cloves of garlic from the root.  Using a silicone garlic peeler, peel the garlic.
  • Gently rinse the dill plants.  Allow to dry on sheets of paper towel.  Break off heads and tender stalks.  Discard the woody part of the stem, which is closer to the root and the root itself.
  • Gently rinse grape leaves and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Measure out and combine whole coriander and peppercorns.
  • Make a 3% salt water brine by mixing the salt with water and stirring until the salt has dissolved fully.
  • Using a 3 gallon pickling crock, place cucumbers, garlic, grape leaves and spices, in alternate layers. Place the weights on top and pour in the brine. Ensure that all of the vegetables are submerged below the brine.
  • Store within a temperature range of 60 – 70 degrees F. (Ideal range is 65-68 degrees F.) Check pickles on day 3 to see if fermentation is complete. Look for all 3 signs of fermentation to be present. These are: cloudy brine, pickles tasting tangy and sour and pickles being a dull green color. If not all 3 indicators are present, then wait another day and check. Continue to check and look for all indicators, this should not take longer than 10 days.
  • Once you are satisfied pickles are ready, then start to place them vertically into mason jars. Each jar will hold approximately 12 pickles, depending on the original cucumber size. Make sure garlic, dill, coriander, peppercorns, grape leaves and brine are also placed in every jar. Screw lid on tightly and store in refrigerator.


This recipe takes about 2 hours of food preparation, at least 3 days of fermentation time and finally about 45 minutes to place pickles in jars.


Serving: 3picklesCalories: 86kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 2671mgPotassium: 483mgFiber: 2gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 1604IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 1mg
Keyword canning, cucumbers, fermentation, lacto-fermented, pickling, probiotic
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