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, then let’s make lacto fermented 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!
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 good Lactobacillus bacteria go to work.
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 actually increases! 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!
The Foundation for This Lacto Fermented Pickles Recipe
This recipe for lacto fermented 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 needed 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 🙂
As per my usual modus operandi, I 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 aromatics. And guess what? 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!
If you are interested in other home fermentation recipes, check out some of my other articles:
- Sourdough starter
- Crackers from left over sourdough starter
- Homemade yogurt
- How to use whey left over from yogurt making
And now for this featured fermented pickles recipe!
Cucumbers and Aromatics
- Cucumbers (see notes)
- Fresh dill (several large sprigs rinsed and stems trimmed)
- Garlic cloves (2 per jar, smashed and cut in half)
- Bay leaves (3 per jar)
- Serrano pepper (1 per jar, sliced, if you want spicy)
For the brine (enough to fill 2 1-pint mason jars)
- Filtered water (1 quart)
- Kosher salt (2 1/2 tablespoons)
- Sterilize all equipment to be used by submerging in boiling water.
- Heat 1 quart of water, dissolve salt, and let the brine cool.
- Trim ends from cucumbers and slice to size (see notes).
- Into the bottom of each jar place a few sprigs of dill, the garlic cloves, a pinch of peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and 2/3 of the sliced serrano.
- Pack the cucumber spears on top of the spices.
- Fill the jar just below the brim with the brine.
- Add the rest of the serrano slices.
- Top with third bay leaf.
- Seal the jar with the pickle pipe.
- Set aside in a cool dry place, less than 80°F.
- 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.
- Once fermentation is complete, replace pickle pipe with a normal lid, and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.