These fermented dill pickles are my absolute favourite. The recipe comes from a hand-me-down canning cookbook from the 1950s. It is well used and tape now holds most of the pages together, but it still has some inspiring recipes.
The reason this is my favourite recipe is that it is so SIMPLE. All you have to do is pack the cucumbers into a canning jar with the brine and cap it with the lid. No skimming required. You don’t have to check on them. They’ll last for up to a year in a cool dark location without any further preservation.
I’ve been making them for years… and never had an issue.
An offbeat fermented dill pickle recipe
This recipe is very different from usual Lacto-fermented pickles. There’s no scum removal, canning or preserving. And it makes the most delicious traditional Eastern European pickle.
I usually turn about 10 lbs of cucumbers into pickles. They get packed into jars in early September and we usually finish eating them by May. I’ve never had a failure with this recipe. However, if you’re uncertain, just make a small batch and eat them after one month of fermenting.
It can be a bit daunting the first time you make fermented vegetables. However, it is a perfectly safe and delicious way to preserve food. Best of all there’s no canning required with this low-energy, zero-waste recipe.
Here are a few tips to make sure your pickles are a success:
- Start with sanitized jars. Either run them through the dishwasher on a sani-cycle or pour boiling water over the jars and the lids.
- Avoid any cucumbers with mould or slime.
- This is a garlic-free recipe because garlic can contain unwanted strains of bacteria.
- The best cucumbers are farm-fresh. They’ll be firm and have plenty of natural Lacto-bacteria on their skin.
- Cool and dark is the best place to store these pickles. However, there are options for urbanites (like me) without garages or basements. Here’s a post all about storing fermented foods.
What type of jar should you use?
There are a number of different jars that can be used for fermented dill pickles.
- The traditional recipe calls for a standard mason jar with a metal lid and jar ring. With the lid screwed on finger-tight (not sealed), the gasses will still be able to escape. I usually do a few jars this way for eating within the first few months.
- I use 2-quart fido jars (affiliate link) for pickles that are going to ferment for longer than a month. They are great for preventing contamination. (Photo at the top of the post).
- You could also use a mason jar with an airlock or a pickle pipe (affiliate links).
Grandma’s Fermented Dill Pickles
This traditional recipe makes fermented pickles really easy. Just pack them in a jar and leave them in a dark, cool location for up to 6 months! Skip the work of canning and enjoy probiotic pickles all winter long.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2–3 quart jars 1x
- Category: Pickles
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Polish
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 2 lbs pickling cucumbers
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 4 cups water (chlorine-free)
- 2 cups of chlorine-free water
- 1/4 cup vinegar (5% acidity)
- 2 tbsp pickling salt
Packing in each quart jar
- 1 tsp grated horseradish (see notes for alternatives)
- 1 sprig of dill
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- Trim the blossom ends off the cucumbers.
- Mix the icing solution using cold water, and let the cucumbers soak in the icing solution overnight (for 8 to 18 hours). Keep the cucumbers submerged in the icing solution by weighing them down with a dinner plate or bags of ice. If it’s really warm in your house, stash them in the fridge for the icing.
- Once you’ve set up the cucumbers for icing, mix the pickling brine ingredients (vinegar, salt and water), bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Divide the hot brine between two sterilized 1-quart mason jars and allow to cool overnight.
- The next morning drain the cucumbers and pack them into the brine-filled mason jars, along with the dill, horseradish and mustard. Use a weight to keep the pickles below the brine and leave at least 1 inch of headroom at the top of the jar.
- Put a lid on the jar that will allow gas to escape while keeping out mould and other contaminates. (See the section above for different jar and lid options).
- Store the jar in a cool dark location.
- The pickles will bubble and ferment for 4-5 days, but leave them undisturbed until you are ready to eat them. Let them ferment for at least 1 month and up to a year.
- The small amount of vinegar isn’t enough to prevent fermentation. It is just enough to add the acidity needed to prevent contamination.
- If you don’t have horseradish you could use a pinch of black tea. It helps prevent the pickles from getting too soft.
- Always be extra cautious with any long-term ferment. See the section above for some tips, including how to sanitize your jars.
- Never eat anything that looks or smells bad. Fermented pickles usually get a dusting of white on them or settling on the bottom of the jar. This is either the spent yeast (from fermenting) or the salt. It is not an issue. If you’re concerned, check out this reference for any pickle problems.
Keywords: vintage, traditional, 1950’s, preservation, summer, fall, winter, probiotic, healthy, storage, vegan, keto, vegetarian, zero-waste, cook-free