Probiotic Rich Dill Pickles

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Lacto-fermentation is a traditional method of making pickles without using vinegar. Pickles made in this manner are alive and rich in probiotics. In this age of antibiotics we all need whatever extra help we can get in making sure the balance of the flora growing in our intestines is as helpful to our absorption and production of nutrients as possible.

Fermentation with lactic acid is also a very safe way to preserve your foods. Please enjoy this recipe, if you would like more information on lactic-acid fermentation and the health benefits of such foods please visit my site


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Step 1: Wash Cucumbers

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For 8-10 small cucumbers use about two jars and 1 quart (litre) of brine. Wash your cucumbers to help clean off any unwanted extra ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare Brine

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Using an old olive oil bottle (any bottle that is about 1 litre or 1 quart will do, make sure it has a good lid).

For one quart (litre) of water add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt. I prefer to use Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt. Shake the bottle of water well to make sure all of the salt is dissolved.

It is best to use filtered water or water that is un-chlorinated, if you don't have a filter, let the water stand overnight, the chlorine will evaporate.

Step 3: Prepare Spices

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There are quite a few spices you can use which add a nice taste. Dill is traditional, I like to add fennel seeds and sometimes chili peppers. The mustard seeds and horseradish root help to keep the pickles more crispy. I have also heard grape leaves help with this. Feel free to experiment. This is one of my favorite combinations of spices.
  • small handful fennel seeds
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 5-7 cloves
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • dill flower heads and leaves
  • small handful of coriander seeds
  • 1 horseradish root, sliced
  • cinnamon bark
Put the spices into the prepared (quart size is good) jars.

Step 4: Poke Cucumbers

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Poke the cucumbers with a fork about three times on various sides. This will help the brine to penetrate the cucumber more quickly.

Step 5: Stuff Jars

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Squeeze as many cucumbers as you can into each jar. Pack them in tightly. If they are poking too much out of the jar, you can also cut them in half. They will need to be in far enough to have the brine fully covering them.

Step 6: Add Brine

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Pour the brine in over the cucumbers and spices. Make sure that the brine covers the ends of the cucumbers by at least 1/2 an inch (1 1/2 cm).

Step 7: Allow to Ferment

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Close the jar tightly with a lid and set in a warm place (out of direct sunlight) in your kitchen for about 3 days or until the bubbles subside.

Place the jars into a cool place or a cellar for at least 6 weeks before eating. Once you have opened the jar, keep it in the fridge.

Easy and delicious! Other vegetables can also be made in this manner, like asparagus, cauliflower, pearl onions....

This is a much more affordable, practical and delicious method to use to make sure you have healthy bacterial growing in your intestinal garden than buying expensive and often useless supplements!

More information on lacto-fermentation and other recipes can be found here.

aalberts7 days ago
Perhaps there is something in/with those few surviving bacteria that makes them more bioavailable, that we do not yet Know about, and therefore all the traditional ("anecdotal") evidence about the efficacy is not all lies and "snake oil." Being a Real scientist means you should have an open mind-- you might Discover something. Oh, and I trust my granny (and friends) more than Any degreed bashers.

Would this work for sweet pickles? Thank you

Warthaug5 years ago
This is the same method used to make sauerkraut; basically you salt the water to prevent most bacteria from growing, while allowing salt-loving bacteria to flourish.  These bacteria (mostly Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus) produce lactic and acetic acid as they "eat" the natural sugars in the cucumbers.  Eventually the acid levels get to high, the bacteria go dormant, and eventually the cucumbers pickle.

Contrary to they authors description, you will not get significant amounts of probiotics from this food.  The bacteria levels are quite low, and most will be dead by the time you consume the pickles.  In fact, its nearly impossible to get detectable changes in your gut flora from "pro-biotic" foods; even bacteria-rich foods like yorgurt simply do not have enough to make a notable difference.  Most medical studies finding benefits use daily bacterial pills containing the equilent to 2-3 liters of yogurt worth of bacteria.

Not true Warthaug. Dr. Joseph Mercola just posted information regarding levels of probiotics in food vs supplement form. He concluded that one jar of saurkraut has more beneficial bacteria than 100 bottles of the best probiotics. Look it up. Plus it is so fun and easy and financially better to educate people how to create their own fermented foods.

I'm a microbiologist by profession, and I'm well aware of Mercola and his complete lack of knowledge in this area. So you'll have to excuse me if I continue to base my statements on the work of myself any my peers (AKA microbiologists and MDs who actually do research on probiotics) over the claims of an established fraud like Mercola. The numbers of viable bacteria in foods - and how many survive the passage through the stomach - is very well understood. Both the density of viable bacteria in fermented foods, and the numbers that safely passage through to the gut, have been widely studied.

Yoghurt is the densest source of viable bacteria among fermented foods; containing ~200 million bacteria per serving (125g). Foods like sauerkraut and pickles have much less (generally 0.25 million/g) - due to a combination of less nutrients for the bacteria to eat during fermentation and due to loss of viability due to the very low pH of these foods. Published numbers are all over the place, but 5-50 million per serving appears covers the range (i.e. 0.25% to 25% compared to a serving of yoghurt). Regardless of the food, the number of bacteria that survive the passage through the gut is small; even in relatively protective foods that buffer stomach pH (yoghurt as a good example), the best survival we see is in the range of a 1-log loss (<10% survival). More common losses range from 3 logs (0.1% survival) to 10-logs (considered to be complete killing).

In contrast, probiotic capsules typically contain 10-20 billion bacteria - i.e. the equivalent of 10-20 serving of yoghurt. Moreover, the are designed to pass the stomach before dissolving, meaning that you get complete delivery of 10-20 billion bacteria contained in them. To get an equivalent delivery from a food like yoghurt (assuming the best-case scenario of 10% surviving the gut) you'd need to eat 100-200 servings - the equivalent of 12.5 kg (28 lbs) too 25 kg (55 lbs) of yoghurt.

Rather than trusting the quacks, may I suggest actually looking at science. A few links to help you out: (google for the medical science)

Dr Warthaug, In Argentina everything is GMO, even milk, because the grass and the rest of what is obtain on the agriculture contain pesticide. And they use artificial colorant and artificial flavor, so, how I can get a good probiotic, when it's contaminate. I think 100% cacao is a good help in contrast to yogurt. It's very difficult to get GMO free. I hope your answer can help me. My e-mail is Thanks.

KenE1 Warthaug4 months ago

Any professional who uses the word "quack" must be a duck. Don't assume you know the whole story. There are always more things to learn and being a scientist, you should know this.

HellaDelicious (author)  Warthaug5 years ago
I know there is a lot of information out there that will agree with Warthaug's point here, but personally I have found that I get a lot more benefit from eating my probiotics in the form of fermented vegetables and in other fermented products (yogurt, kombucha, kefir etc) than I do from supplements (plus the really 'good' ones are insanely expensive).

People traditionally around the globe have eaten various fermented foods for thousands of years and gotten incredible benefits from them, in fact it used to be that fermented foods were treasured, cared for and handed down to the daughter on her wedding day. In this way the cultures evolved alongside the family DNA and helped to protect them from various illnesses. This is still practiced in Korea (kimchi) and in various other places.

I have also read a lot of information regarding probiotic pills that points out that it is hard to really know if the probiotics will be effective, depending on what brand you buy and the types of bacteria in the pill etc. See this article for more information about the probiotic supplement conspiracy.

The other point about eating these foods (yes this is the same method as sauerkraut!) that is highly beneficial is that our intestinal tract is so excessively long that eating food with beneficial bacteria will actually get into the various crevices and deeper into the intestinal tract than the pill form can.

Anyway there is plenty of information to support either side of this argument. The key thing is to try it yourself and see what works best for you!
clpapy1 year ago

Just wondering if using Pickle Crisp or lime will interfere with the probiotic goodness?

I made these pickles 10 days ago. There is white stuff on the bottom of the jars and on the cucumber stems. Is this mold? What did I do wrong? I sterilized the jars also.
HellaDelicious (author)  rachellepatten1 year ago
No that is not anything to worry about. Sometimes the lactobacillus forms this white stuff.

By the way I highly recommend checking out these amazing pickles made in oak barrels on Whidby Island in Washington State:

The tannins from the oak give the pickles this amazing almost smoked flavor. If any of you have access to oak barrels it might be worth a try!
Mjas2 years ago
Will it matter that I used 1-1/2 tsp instead of 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt?? I have 8 jars on my cupboard and they have not bubbled yet. :(
#72 years ago
HellaDelicious (author) 4 years ago
By the way, if the weather is hot, you may only need to leave the pickles out for one or two days. After you have made them a few times you will know what amount of time you prefer to leave them out for. Various people may like them more sour or less, so try them a few times and see how you like it. I also eat them before waiting 6 weeks most of the time.
HellaDelicious (author) 4 years ago
It is best to use jars with the canning tops that have the rubber seal. After two or three days some of the gasses and juice will be released through the seal, this is fine. It is best to put an old towel or something under the jars as they are fermenting so that these juices don't get everywhere.
PaulsMom4 years ago
Hi I'm looking for some clarification....You don't put these in a water bath after making them. All the other recipes I've read say you need to do this for safety....? I have a recipe my grandmother gave me that is a sweet dill. Her instructions did not include heat processing. Her's was more like yours , no water bath and 8 weeks to cure. Just want to make sure I'm being safe. Thanks for any help.
HellaDelicious (author)  PaulsMom4 years ago
No need for a water bath. This is a real traditional method without using vinegar. Usually pickles using vinegar will need a water bath. This method just encourages the lactobacili to grow and ferment. These pickles are delicious. I often do this with asparagus too and they are fantastic as well. Yum.
craftymaven5 years ago
I've made these too using a mandoline  to slice the cucumbers, and the pickles are ready to eat in 3-4 days. They ferment faster in the warm summer months. The kids LOVE these! Check out Weston A Price and Nourishing Traditions for more information on old-style eating. There's also a book (and website) called Wild Fermentation that gives info about fermenting many other foods. Most veggies contain lactobacilli on their leaves or skins, and under the right conditions, they grow into lactic acid, great for digestion. I've never tested how long they keep, cause they're gobbled up at our place. Good instructable, thanks for spreading the word.
HellaDelicious (author)  craftymaven4 years ago
Awesome! Thanks for adding in all the links to those great informational sites. I love both those books too and I am really needing to get a mandoline too!

Warthaug5 years ago
I forgot to add to my last comment,

The flower end of cucumbers (the end opposite the stem) contains enzymes that can cause the pickles to go soft.  Many people remove this end to prevent this; it really can help make for crisper pickles.  I'm lazy, so I cut both ends off instead figuring out which end is the flower end (plus they pickle faster this way).  This method works for both this (fermentation) as well as traditional (heat) pickling.
HellaDelicious (author)  Warthaug5 years ago
This is a great tip. Also adding in things with high tannings helps like the grape leaves. I have also found that adding chili peppers helps a bit too. I don't personally mind if the pickles are so crispy or a little softer.
kissiltur5 years ago
that is a gloriously simple pickling method, but where does the lactic acid come from?
HellaDelicious (author)  kissiltur5 years ago
The salt helps to prevent other organisms from growing and encourages the growth of the lactobacilli bacteria. You can vary the amounts of salt or add whey instead, it is good to experiment yourself to see how you prefer the flavor.

A good book with tons of info on fermentation and lots of traditional recipes is Sandor Ellix Katz book Wild Fermentation if you are looking for in depth information I think this book is an excellent resource.
SinAmos5 years ago
Quick question - how long can you store them after the initial 6 weeks?
HellaDelicious (author)  SinAmos5 years ago
You can store them for quite long periods in a cool place. I haven't ever stored them for longer than this since I can barely wait six weeks to eat them in the first place!
thepelton5 years ago
I gotta try this.  I love dill pickles.
SinAmos5 years ago
I love it.