Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

August 21, 2020
Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles native me

If there is one food that I’m known for, it’s my home-canned pickles! This year, I decided to venture out and ferment some of the cucumbers I bought and see if fermented garlic dill pickles would be just as tasty as my other ones. Low and behold, they are even better and you get the added bonus of consuming beneficial lactic acid bacteria.

There are two crucial ingredients when it comes to making pickles. Without them, you will end up with nothing but a jar full of mush, and nobody wants to eat that. When making your fermented garlic dill pickles make sure that you include enough tannins and salt to get a nice crisp pickle.

What are Tannins & Why are They Important?

Tannins are an astringent plant metabolite or phenolic acid (tannic acid) found in an array of different plant species. These metabolites bind to proteins, starches, cellulose, and minerals. As a result, foods become more resistant to decomposition. Fermenting vegetables such as cucumbers that have a high water content can be troublesome without the addition of tannins because of their tendency to decompose quickly and become mushy.

Some good sources of tannins:

  • Grape Leaves
  • Black tea
  • Coffee
  • Oak leaves, wood, and bark
  • Bay leaves
  • Unripe Fruit

My personal favorite source of tannins to use for making fermented garlic dill pickle are bay leaves. They add a lot of flavor and contain plenty of tannins to keep your pickles nice and crisp. One other big plus to using bay leaves: most pickling spice already contains it. This makes life much easier because you can avoid buying or seeking out extra ingredients.

Why is Salt Important?

First of all, salt is important in all instances of fermentation. Yes, some people who, because of health issues, have to avoid salt and there are ways to ferment without it. This recipe uses a 4% brine, which I have found to be ideal for great pickles for a few reasons:

  • Crispness: This goes without saying that nobody wants to eat a pile of mushy vegetables. Especially something like pickles. Salt pulls the water out of the cell walls, a process known as reverse osmosis. Vegetables that are high in water content require more salt to stay crisp. Cucumbers need a brine between 3.5-5% sodium content.
  • Safety: Salt keeps unwanted bacteria and yeasts from reproducing while Lactic Acid Bacteria grows to an acceptable level. Lactic Acid Bacteria will lower the PH of your ferments, hindering mold and harmful bacteria from taking over.
  • Taste: Salt is a flavor enhancer and getting the amount right is key for a ferment that you will enjoy eating. Salt also suppresses bitterness, balances sweet and sour flavors, and helps to release aromas.

For more in depth info on salt, check out my post on how to make a brine for fermented vegetables. If you plan on making your pickles with a lower brine percentage, I have a chart on that post that will point you in the right direction.

What are Pickling Cucumbers & Where to Find Them

Pickling cucumbers are a variety of cucumbers that are ideal for preserving. They are much smaller than your run of the mill cucumbers you’ll find in your local supermarket. They also have a crunchier texture, smaller seeds, and the skin is much thinner. This makes them perfect for tasty crunchy pickles.

The first place I always look for fresh pickling cucumbers is at my local farmer’s markets and produce stands. They are usually in stock in my local area from August-September, but it will depend on your specific location. These places usually sell the dried dill stalks and the garlic you will need as well.

When buying pickling cucumbers, make sure you test the firmness of each one. Leave any mushy ones behind.

If you have the garden space and the know-how, they are also very easy to grow yourself.

Pickling cucumbers for fermented garlic dill pickles.

Important Tips for Making Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

  • Place all your spices at the bottom of your jar or crock before you load in the cucumbers. This will prevent most of the spices from floating above the brine, hindering mold growth.
  • Always cut the blossom end of the cucumbers off. There is an enzyme present in the blossom end that will cause your pickles to come out mushy. As a fail-safe, I usually cut off both ends.
  • Taste Daily. Depending on the temperature, salt content, and other factors, it’s very difficult to predict when your pickles will be done. The best method is to taste them until the flavor is to your liking.

I hope that your fermented garlic dill pickles turn out amazing and fill your belly with healthful probiotics.

Happy fermenting!

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Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

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By Curie Ganio
Prep Time: 3 hrs Cooking Time: 5-10 days

Flavorful and crisp fermented garlic dill pickles that have a tangy and salty flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Pickling Cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp Pickling Spice
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (peeled)
  • 1-2 Stalks of Dried Dill Weed
  • 1-2 Red Chili Peppers (optional)
  • 4 C Uncholrinated Water
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp Sea Salt

Instructions

1

Cut the blossom end off of the cucumbers wash all the dirt off.

2

Dissolve 1 Tbsp of the salt into some water in a large bowl.

3

Add a few handfuls of ice, and the cucumbers.

4

Allow the cucumbers to sit in the ice water for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

5

Place the pickling spice, dried dill stalks, red chili peppers, and garlic at the bottom of a half-gallon jar.

6

Place the pickles in the jar one by one, stacking them over the spices and filling in as many gaps as possible.

7

Measure out the water in a small bowl, and add the salt.

8

Stir until the salt has dissolved to make a brine.

9

Pour the salt over the pickles in the jar, leaving 1-2 inches at the top.

10

Place a weight to hold the pickles under the brine and loosely place a lid over the top of the jar.

11

Allow to ferment at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 5-10 days.

12

Taste every day or two until the desired flavor is reached.

Notes

This recipe makes approximately a 1 Liter (1/2 gal.) jar of pickles with a 4% brine.

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