Fermented Foods Part 3: Spicy Lacto Fermented Dill Pickles

What to do when your cucumber plant is overflowing with fruit? Make pickles of course! And if you are a home fermentation lover like me, they will be lacto fermented dill pickles. Why lacto fermentation? For one, it is about as natural a process as you can get. And for two (and most importantly), for the added nutrition!

Pickle ingredients
Pickle ingredients

Health Benefits of Lacto Fermentation

There are plenty of quick overnight pickle recipes readily available online, but I wanted to try a true lacto fermentation. The biggest difference is that the quick pickle recipes utilize vinegar for the brine. The lacto fermentation process just uses a salt brine with some spices, and lets the goodย Lactobacillus bacteria go to work.

Pickle making equipment
Pickle making equipment

In short, the process of lacto fermentation allows these good bacteria to break down the sugars in fruits/veggies, into lactic acid, which acts as a natural preservative. And as an added bonus, the nutrition content of the food is actually increased! Good probiotic bacteria thrive in fermented foods. When consumed, these probiotic bacteria lend a hand to improve your digestion and overall gut health.

Fermented foods are also rich in B12 (a byproduct of the fermentation process), and vitamins D and K2 (both help with calcium absorption). If you were to use an alternative fermentation process like high heat or vinegar, while still tasty, these methods actually destroy the good bacteria. So you are really missing out on the added health and nutrition benefits lacto fermentation can offer!

Finished pickles
Finished pickles

The Foundation for This Lacto Fermented Dill Pickles Recipe

This recipe for lacto fermented dill pickles is based on a fermentation guide/recipe ebook I received from Nourished Essentials. They gave out a couple free pdfs with the purchase of some fermentation equipment (weights for small batch mason jar fermentation), and I have tried a couple of their recipes so far with nice success.

I also found another great resource over at Cultures for Health. It is a very similar recipe, but they addressed one very important question I had – what were some more options to use for tannin containing leaves? Grape, oak, and horseradish were all possibilities, but not something I could easily find. Tannin is critical to keep the crunch in the pickles, so I didn’t want to leave it out. The answer: bay leaves! And good news, most of us have those handy in our pantries ๐Ÿ™‚

Ready to add brine
Ready to add brine

True to form, I also decided to make a couple modifications. In particular, I wanted to try making spicy pickles, so for one of my jars I sliced up a serrano chili and included that in with the other spices. And it worked! The pickles in that jar are quite spicy! So if you like a little kick in your condiments, I would definitely recommend adding in some sliced chili peppers!

Ready to add brine
Ready to add brine
Beginning pickle fermentation
Beginning pickle fermentation

Lacto Fermented Dill Pickles

Category: Condiment

Cuisine: All American

Finished pickles - spicy

Lacto feremented dill pickles are not only delicious, but are an excellent source of probiotics and vitamins B12, D, and K2.


  • Cucumbers, see notes
  • Fresh dill, several large sprigs rinsed and stems trimmed
  • Peppercorns
  • Garlic cloves, 2 per jar, smashed and cut in half
  • Bay leaves, 3 per jar
  • Serrano pepper, 1 per jar, sliced (if you are going for spicey!)
    For the brine (enough to fill 2 1-pint mason jars)
  • Filtered water, 1 quart
  • Kosher salt, 2 1/2 tablespoons
    Other Equipment
  • Wide-mouthed mason jars
  • Pickle Pipe Masontops (or other method for allowing CO2 to release but keep O2 out)
  • Weights to keep cucumber slices submerged (optional, see notes)


  1. Sterilize all equipment to be used by submerging in boiling water.
  2. Heat 1 quart of water, dissolve salt, and let the brine cool.
  3. Trim ends from cucumbers and slice to size (see notes).
  4. Into the bottom of the jar place a few sprigs of dill, the garlic cloves, a pinch of peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and 2/3 of the sliced serrano.
  5. Pack the cucumber spears on top of the spices.
  6. Fill the jar just below the brim with the brine.
  7. Add a few more serrano slices.
  8. Top with third bay leaf.
  9. Seal the jar with the pickle pipe.
  10. Set aside in a cool dry place, less than 80ยฐF.
  11. The fermentation can take anywhere from 3 days to several weeks. I let mine go for about 10 days. You can taste every few days until the flavor profile is to your liking - just be sure you only dip into the jar with a clean utensil, do not double dip, and re-seal well.
  12. Once fermentation is complete, replace pickle pipe with a normal lid, and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.


For the cucumbers, I used the Armenian Cucumbers growing in our garden. I have read that they make excellent pickles (maintaining a good crunch), but you could use whatever is available to you, or even small whole kirbies. To trim the cucumbers into spears, I measured the depth of the jar I was going to use, and then trimmed them 1 inch shorter (in length) by 1/4 - 1/2 inch wide.

Using weights is optional in this case, since the cucumber slices are packed in tightly, and heavy enough to stay submerged. I did not use weights in this recipe, although I would consider using them next time, just to be sure everything stays submerged. (I had some floating serrano slices on top that became discolored.) If you opted to use weights, then you would need to adjust the height of the cucumber spears to that there was space for the weight to sit on top, and still seal the jar. So measure accordingly! ๐Ÿ™‚

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