As the summer ends, there’s a lot to start missing about the season. Sunny days at the beach or pool, excuses for long weekend trips and longer daylight hours are just some of summer’s best qualities. But there’s another thing I’ll be missing as the weather cools: cucumbers! Luckily, fermentation allows my favorite vegetables to be preserved well past their usual prime.
If you’re like me and don’t want to let cucumber season get away, pickling is a great option. Not only do you get to continue enjoying them, but your body also gets to enjoy the many health benefits of cultured foods.
Pickles are just one example of a fermented food that people love, but most store-bought varieties have skipped the fermentation process. Instead, they’re made through a quick-pickling method, meaning they get their flavor by adding acid. This way, the pickles don’t have to formulate healthy bacteria.
My Dill Pickles are actually fermented, meaning they undergo the lacto-fermentation process to self-preserve by creating beneficial bacteria. This method is healthier and better for your gut. Win-win!
Yields: 1 gallon
4 lbs. small cucumbers
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and chopped
1 handful dill weed
1 handful grape leaves (or other tannin-rich leaves)
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
2 tsp. minced horseradish
1 tsp. hot chili pepper flakes
2 ½ quarts spring or filtered water
¼ cup sea salt
1-gallon crock or jar*
- Get the pickles ready: Gently wash the cucumbers. Place the garlic, dill weed, grape leaves, peppercorns, horseradish and chili pepper flakes in a 1-gallon crock.
- Fill the crock: Tightly pack the cucumbers in the crock, placing larger cucumbers at the bottom. Combine the water and salt to make brine and pour over the cucumbers. Put a plate or other weight on top of the cucumbers and add brine to completely submerge all of the ingredients. Cover the crock with a towel held in place with a rubber band.
- Time to ferment: In a few days, fermentation will begin. Bubbling can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on the temperature. When bubbling has ceased, sample a cucumber. If it has not pickled through to the center, give them some more time. When they are fully pickled, transfer to fridge for storage. (A half-sour pickle will still be raw and crunchy in the center.)
*Gut Girl Note: This recipe can also be made in two 2-liter jars—simply divide the seasonings between them.
Heal Your Gut! My Dill Pickles recipe is just one of many ways to prepare fresh ingredients that will assist in maintaining a healthy gut flora. If you want more information, check out my free Daily Gut-Healing Checklist.