Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sour Dill Pickles the Old Fashioned Way... Fermented in a Crock!

UPDATE 10/26/13- Before we begin it's important to note that in the recipe below the ingredients list calls for a ratio of 6 tablespoons of salt to the first 8 cups of water, and if more water is necessary to fill your crock, add additional water/salt at a ratio of 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of water. As per Sandor's instructions this will make a brine of approximately 5.4% salt (for the first 8 cups of water) which is salty, but does not require desalinization like a 10% brine would.

If you prefer saltier/ less salty pickles you can experiment 

1 T salt to 1qt water = 1.8% brine
2 T salt to 1 qt water = 3.6% brine
3 T salt to 1 qt water = 5.4% brine etc.


This is my first time trying this recipe, but I am working from (adapting a bit) the recipe for sour fermented pickles out of the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, so I expect it will be great.  I have been researching online for a while now, and many, many blogs and videos on the web credit their success to the recipe in this book.  So, here goes nothing...

Tools needed:
crock or 1 gallon glass/ceramic jar
glass plate or weights to hold down cukes in brine solution
clean cheesecloth or some other cloth material to cover crock/jar with
2 liter glass bowl or pitcher (to mix brine solution in)
measuring utensils

recipe calls for 3-4 pounds fresh, unwaxed, pickling cucumbers
handful of fresh grape leaves (tannic acid in them helps keep pickles crispy)
6 T sea salt
3 or 4 fresh flowering dill heads or 3-4 T dried dill leaf
2-3 heads garlic, peeled
1 t black peppercorns
and other herbs you like in your pickles
2-4 liters non-chlorinated or distilled water

(I have a 7.5 liter crock, so I doubled this recipe.)


Clean and rinse cucumbers and grape leaves.

If you cannot use fresh picked (today) cucumbers, give them a cold water bath for an hour.

Make sure to remove blossoms.  They will make mushy pickles.

Clean crock or jar well.  Sterilization is optimal.  My crock is too big and heavy to put into the canner or dishwasher, so I washed it with hot, soapy water, dried it thoroughly, and rubbed apple cider vinegar allover inside of crock. Then, let dry.
Pour 2 liters of water into the glass pitcher.
Add the sea salt to the water.  Stir well, until salt is completely dissolved.
Place the grape leaves into the jar or crock, followed by whole garlic cloves, peppercorns, and dill.
Add the cucumbers and cover them with the salt brine.
Put weights on cucumbers to weigh them down.  If you don't have weights, you can use a plate and weigh it down with a water filled jar or a bag full of water or a boiled clean rock.  At this point, if the salt brine does not cover the weight, add more brine at a ratio of 1 T per cup of water.
Cover the jar or crock with a cloth or lid made for lactic-fermentation.

  1. Store your jar/crock in a cool place.  (I am keeping mine on my kitchen counter.)
  2. Check daily, skim mold off (if you get any)  If there is mold, you must clean the weights/plate too .
  3. After a few days, taste the pickles to check on their progress.
  4. Always check crock daily for mold and brine level.  Never let brine solution drop below weight/plate.  
  5. The recipe suggests that your pickles will be "done" between one and four weeks time. Apparently, temperature is the big variable that influences this.  Once, you are satisfied with the taste, move your pickles to the refrigerator to slow down fermentation.  Enjoy!


  1. This is on my ever growing list of things to do...Good luck I hope these pickles turn out for you. You're a busy gal:)

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