Anyone ever ferment pickles or other vegetables?

I canned pickles years back. More effort than it was worth really. Fermented pickles, the old fashioned barrel type pickles, sounds like an interesting endeavor. It doesn’t involve canning procedures, operates at room temperatures, and doesn’t take that long. This website is one of many describing the process. They use a ziploc sandwich bag filled with water as an airlock. It all sounds pretty easy. The hard part will probably be finding good cucumbers to pickle. I want to make Kosher dill style pickles, I’m not particular about the type of cucumber as much as finding fairly small ones.

Anyone done this before?

I do quick pickles which is not the same. I do, however, make fermented drinks occasionally --tepache, ginger beer, sorrel-- things that do not generally need specialized equipment. Hubby occasionally makes beer and I dream of making mead one day.

ETA: I may try this method. It looks close to the drink fermenting process.

Yeah, I’ve made giardiniera a few times (and posted here about it). I haven’t checked out your link, but a ziplock bag sounds like asking for trouble (the weight of the liquid, along with some accidental pressure, can easily push the seal open). Get yourself a suitably sized Mason/Ball glass jar, the kind with the rubber ring and a screw-on lid (or a lever to lock down the lid). It’s fun, easy and tasty.

Half-sour pickles can be as simple as adding the right amount of kosher salt and fermenting for a few days. That’s about as complicated as I care to get with pickling.

I’ve made sauerkraut. I’ve made refrigerator red radish, daikon, and carrot pickles. Mostly I take brine from a commercial pickle I like (say, dill stackers), add a few peppercorns and more dill, put in some vegetable, shake it, and return it to the fridge for a few days. The commercial brine is good for a few rounds then needs to be replaced.

That website seems to have it down pretty good. The tricky bit is first getting the right amount of salt, the second is the seal. I’m not sure about that bag method, though.

If you’re making pickled cucumbers, I have been told to be sure to remove part of the cuke, I think the blossom end, because it makes them mushy or something. I am very much not an expert, though I did participate in a Cub Scout pickle making activity led by a guy who owns a pickle making company.

@pulykamell has posted here about fermented pickles that he makes.


Giardiniera is on the list. Can’t make a good antipasto without it!

My wife likes those, I’m going to try them out.

I’ll try out the seal but i’m looking for airlocks that fit on Mason jars. Most recipes mention cutting off both ends of the cuke. I don’t have a problem with that.

Hoping he’ll chime in with details.

If you’ve got a decent local farmers’ market, try there – in cucumber season, that is; which is going to depend on where you are. I doubt you’d find pickling cukes around here before June or more likely July; some people do grow greenhouse cukes, but those tend to be the long types.

Is there a major advantage for fermenting over quick pickling? I always have mason jars of quick pickles (and pickled red onions in my fridge.) Is fermenting a flavor thing, or a longevity thing?

Oh, man, it’s been awhile. Here’s the sun pickles recipe I referenced in that thread, courtesy of

The process I used was more similar to this one, though, as I never used vinegar in my dill pickles:

The main exception is I didn’t use horseradish. The leaves are there to help keep the pickles crisp. You can also use alum at a concentration of about 1/4 tsp per pint of pickles. (I’m reading now that that’s not used as much anymore, favoring something like calcium chloride, sold as “PIckle Crisp” or “Xtra Crunch” at 1/8 tsp per pint.)

Here’s the recipe from a pickling book I have:

Dill Pickles

Use the following quantities for each gallon capacity of your container.
4 lbs of 4-inch pickling cucumbers
2 tbsp dill seed or 4 to 5 heads fresh or dry dill weed
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup vinegar (5%)
8 cups water and one or more of the following ingredients:
2 cloves garlic (optional)
2 dried red peppers (optional)
2 tsp whole mixed pickling spices (optional)


Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4-inch of stem attached. Place half of dill and spices on bottom of a clean, suitable container. Add cucumbers, remaining dill, and spices. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers. Add suitable cover and weight. Store where temperature is between 70 and 75° F for about 3 to 4 weeks while fermenting. Temperatures of 55° to 65° F are acceptable, but the fermentation will take 5 to 6 weeks. Avoid temperatures above 80° F, or pickles will become too soft during fermentation. Fermenting pickles cure slowly. Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. Caution: If the pickles become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them. Fully fermented pickles may be stored in the original container for about 4 to 6 months, provided they are refrigerated and surface scum and molds are removed regularly. Canning fully fermented pickles is a better way to store them. To can them, pour the brine into a pan, heat slowly to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Filter brine through paper coffee filters to reduce cloudiness, if desired. Fill hot jar with pickles and hot brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process as below:

Marianski, Stanley; Marianski, Adam. Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles & Relishes . Bookmagic LLC. Kindle Edition.

Fermented pickles taste different, yes. Lactic acid vs acetic acid. The former is a … hard to describe … fruitier and more complex tang? I’m okay with vinegar pickles, but nothing beats a proper fermented pickle for eating on its own, or in pickle soup. Like I said above, I put zero vinegar in my fermented pickles (or at least when I used to do them. It’s been awhile, and I’ve got access to fermented pickles at Eastern European groceries here.)

I followed one of the recipes for sun pickles that you posted or linked to years ago, and made it as a project with my nephews in the summertime. We all really enjoyed it. They still ask about it.

I’ve made pickles. Several kinds.
I’ve fermented persimmons into a ‘beer’ and muscadines into a wine.

It’s not hard. Just particular steps you must take.

My parents used to make a lot of pickles. They made bread and butter pickles, sour pickles, and half-sour pickles. The half sour ones were just the first ones we removed from the tub of brine.

My father grew cucumbers, and near the end of the season he processed them into pickles. The bread and butter pickles were a process (cukes were sliced and cooked and canned.) The sour pickles i think he literally just washed the whole cucumbers and dropped them into the big tub of brine. They were very good. But I’ve never had a lot of cucumbers to deal with, so if i want pickles i buy them already pickled.

Here’s a recipe for Jewish sours. Similar to the Polish dills I linked to above (not surprisingly). Jewish sours are properly fermented pickles, not vinegar-ed:

When I did them, I used some pantyhose at the top of the jar to keep any critters from wandering in, and a loose plate to cover.

That’s similar to what my (Jewish) Dad did. I think he put a plate on top of the cucumbers, and weighted it down with a rock. I also don’t think he sealed it in any way.

Yeah, you want the gasses to escape. I suppose you can also do it with an airlock type of setup, but nobody had those growing up. My pantyhose was probably overkill, but I usually left the jars outside, so I wanted to be safe. My mom would do them in the cellar, away from light. I did the “sun pickles” method because … I dunno … I saw some other person do it that way in Hungary. They all seem to work, but the sun method is a bit faster.

And if you get some good brined pickles, try this recipe:

It’s one of my favorite soups. You can also use rice in lieu of potatoes, if you want, as the starchy bit of the soup.

Yeah, my father’s pickle crock was in a screened porch. So no bugs, no critters. If it had been outdoors something like pantyhose would have likely been welcome.