I love pickles. Always have. I’ve eaten pickles first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I’ve eaten them in my ice cream. I’ve eaten them on sandwiches and burgers like a normal person, or just straight out of the jar, one after another, like a pig. I like them with wine. I like them with carrots. MMmmm… pickles!

I’ve wanted to make my own pickles for forever. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner; its really pretty simple. This year, I planted pickling cucumbers in the garden with the goal of trying to pickle some. The thing is, they’re so good fresh and raw, we’ve been munching them as fast as we pick ’em. Then the kids and I went on a four day road trip vacation. And when we got home there was lots on the vines, so I finally got to try this recipe for fermented pickles.

I started by sterilizing my canning jars and then let them air dry. I used one half-gallon jar and two quart jars. I soaked the cucumbers in cold water and trimmed some green beans, also from our garden.

fresh pickling cucumbers soaking in water and a pile of green beans

The brine solution I made was 2 1/2 quarts of water with 6 1/4 tablespoons of pickling salt. I heated up the water gently, to help dissolve the salt, and then let it cool to room temp.

Supposedly grape leaves or oak leaves added to the jars helps keep the pickles crisp, but I couldn’t find any. I didn’t use any dill either, which is the classic pickling herb. I’m just not crazy about dill, especially fresh, so I left that out too. I did use peppercorns in all the jars, mustard seeds in two, and a dried mix of basil, parsley, and oregano in one. My pickles didn’t turn out very spiced at all. I’m going to try more spices next time, including fresh peeled garlic cloves, which I was just stupidly out of at the moment.

I added the herbs in the bottom of the jars and then packed them with fresh veggies. One quart jar was just green beans. One quart jar was cucumbers with ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and green beans. And the half-gallon jar was whole cucumbers (about 4 inches long) with ends trimmed off, a couple were cut in half width wise to fit. I added sliced onion rounds on top of all the jars, too. The onions helped keep the other vegetables under the brine while fermentation happened. Grape leaves can be used the same way.

herbs and vegetables packed into sterilized canning jars

Then, I simply poured the salt water brine into the jars, leaving an inch of air at the top, made sure everything was submerged under the liquid, and put the canning lids on top, but not tight. The fermentation process produces air bubbles, which creates pressure inside the jars. The jars sit out at room temperature for about 3-5 days depending on ambient temperatures. It helps to ‘burp’ the jars once a day to let out excess pressure from air bubbles: just unscrew and lift the lids and then close them back up again.

On the second day, the brine in my fermented pickle jars started to look cloudy. On the third day, I tasted them and they were super yummy. So we ate some and then put the jars in the refrigerator, which slows the fermentation down.

nice cloudy ferment happening in the pickle jars

Fermented foods are growing in popularity lately because they’re so healthy. Eating fermented food helps to restore a proper balance to our digestive systems and increases the amounts of nutrients our bodies absorb.

This was just my first try, and I really liked the results, so I think I’ll be doing a lot more fermenting in the kitchen from now on!