cucumbers

Preserve Summer: Dill Pickles Recipe

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!

Dill Pickles

Yields: 1 gallon

Ingredients
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

Equipment
1-gallon crock or jar* 

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Watermelon Salad with Dairy-Free Feta

It should come as no surprise that I think salads are one of the best summer meal options. They’re simple to make, so you can quickly assemble one for lunch or easily put together a large amount for a pool party.  

My Watermelon Salad with Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta is everything a salad should be—satisfying, healthy, and so good you’ll be eating it for the rest of the season. Watermelon is a great way to stay hydrated when it’s hot out (it contains 92% water!), and the fermented cheese fills your gut with friendly bacteria.

For an extra health benefit, I like to sprinkle my salad with fresh herbs. Cilantro or mint (or a bit of both) are excellent options, as they aid in digestion and help cleanse the body. I love how such little additions can ramp up the health and flavour profile of any meal.

Now, I know how challenging it can be to get in the kitchen when your schedule is crowded with everything from camp drop-offs to summer vacations. But here are some shortcuts: prepare the cheese in advance and buy the watermelon pre-cut. Then, it takes no time at all to pull together. If you’re on the go, pack it up for a picnic, road trip or potluck.

Watermelon Salad w/ Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

Ingredients
Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta, prepared in advance (see recipe here)
2 ½ limes, juiced
½ cup coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 green onion, finely chopped  
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 seedless watermelon
1 cucumber
Chopped cilantro or mint

Directions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk the lime juice, oil, onion, salt and pepper. Let sit for one hour.
  2. Cut the watermelon and cucumber into 1-inch chunks.
  3.  Add the dressing and fresh herbs just before serving. Toss well.
  4.  Add the Feta and gently mix to incorporate into the salad. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this dairy-free, gut-friendly recipe as much as I do! Are there any other recipes or comfort foods you’d like me to make healthier? Let me know via email or in the comments below. Making the switch is easier than you’d think, and I’m here to help you on your delicious journey.