How to make Manhattan-style, Fermented Pickles with Garlic and Dill! An easy step-by-step guide to making the most flavorful, crunchy, tangy pickles full of healthy probiotics, with only 20 minutes of hands-on time! The pickle brine is like a “tonic” -drink a shot of it daily to help build immunity!
What happens when people open their hearts? They get better. ~Haruki Murakami
I’ve been chomping at the bit to share this easy recipe for Fermented Pickles with you! If you are a crunchy pickle lover like me, you are going to be in heaven. Seriously, these are the best!
These Manhattan-style “half-sour” pickles, are crispy, crunchy, flavorful and ohhhhhh so alive! They are not for canning, but rather live happily bubbly lives in your refrigerator. They are fermented in a salt brine and get their delicious tanginess from light fermentation rather than vinegar.
Full of healthy, gut-healing, immunity boosting probiotics these little guys are perfect as a low-calorie snack, or sliced and added to sandwiches or served as a tasty side.
Not only are they delicious, and incredibly EASY to make, they are also incredibly good for us!
And as crazy as this may sound to some, the fizzy brine itself is like a healing tonic to me – I love to drink a shot of it- especially when I feel like my immunity needs a boost! So flavorful and totally energizing.
It starts with 2 lbs of “pickling cucumbers”. This recipe makes one large 1/2 gallon jar (or use two quart-sized jars) – a relatively small batch.
You will find Pickling Cucumbers at your local farmers market and you will recognize them by their small ( 4-6 inches) blocky shape, bumpy skin and color gradient from light to dark. Ask the farmers if they have Kirby cumbers or pickling cucumbers, they can help direct you to the right ones.
Your pickles will only be as good as your cucumbers, so choose wisely!
Make sure they are roughly all the same size -all about 4-5 inches long with 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch diameters – to fit in the jar nicely and to ferment at the same rate. Handpicked each one. They should be fresh and crisp.
Wash them, and soak them in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes to firm and crisp them up.
Gather your fresh Garlic and Dill and pickling spices.
Spices to use in Fermented Dill Pickles:
- Use fennel seeds, mustard, peppercorns, coriander seeds, allspice, and celery seeds. Feel free to embellish! I added a couple of chilies for a little heat.
- Fresh Dill and lots of garlic!!!
- Fermented cucumbers need tannin to help keep their skins from going soft. Traditionally, a few grape leaves are used but bay leaves work well too!
Because these fermented pickles are left whole, you really want the brine to be extra flavorful.
I add a lot of garlic… 10 cloves! Layer the cucumbers, spices, garlic, dill and bay leaves in a large two quart jar ( half gallon).
Carefully measure and mix salt and water to create the saltwater brine- then pour this brine over the pickles.
How salt works in fermentation:
- In a nutshell, using the right ratio of salt in fermentation encourages the growth of healthy bacteria, while at the same time kills off bad bacteria. You want to be precise when measuring the salt and water in these kinds of recipes.
- Too much salt may kill off ALL of the bacteria -preventing fermentation.
- Too little salt will allow bad bacteria to keep on living. It is a fine balance. 😉
SALT TO WATER RATIO (fermented dill pickles):
- This recipe is a 2.5 % salt water brine, which is considered “safe”. It equals 6 grams of salt per one cup of water. This ratio allows one to drink the brine (like a shot) because it is not too salty.
- If you want a stronger brine, feel free to go up to 3.5% So for example, 3% ratio = 7 grams salt per 1 cup of water. 3.5% Ratio= 9 grams of salt per 1 cup of water.
- Use unprocessed salt (sea salt) and unchlorinated, filtered water for best results.
Leave an inch or two of room at the top.
Weigh down the cucumbers so they are completely submerged under the liquid, using fermentation weights, a small zip lock bag filled with a little water, or something as simple as a clean river stone. (My friend Tonia uses stones she collects on the beach and she gave me this idea.)
Cover with a loosely with a lid, place in a bowl or pan to catch any overflow, and place them in a cool dark place for 3-7 days, like the basement. I’ve found a slower, cooler fermentation works best here.
Check after 3 days. Look for signs of life: bubbles, or cloudy water. This took me about 4 days. I let it go one more day, then placed the jar in the fridge to further slow the fermentation.
If you like to create a “fizzy” brine for drinking, tighten the lid, and burp daily. This will create a little pressure and give it some effervescence.
The fermented pickles turned out absolutely perfect! Crunchy and flavorful!
The brine is deliciously tangy, salty, and effervescent -so tasty!
Let me know how you like this one in the comments below.
How to make Manhattan-style, Fermented Pickles! A simple recipe for making the most flavorful, crunchy, tangy, garlic dill pickles with only 15 minutes of hands-on time. Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics these little guys are perfect as a low-calorie snack, or sliced and added to sandwiches.
- 2 lbs pickling cucumbers- all similar size (4–5 inches)
- 6 cups filtered water (non-chlorinated- tap water may have chlorine which can inhibit fermentaion)
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt or Himalayan salt -1 teaspoon (or 6-7 grams salt) per 1 cup of water (see notes) 2.5% brine.
- 8–12 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 teaspoon each: fennel seeds, coriander seeds, allspice, peppercorns, dill seeds, mustard seeds,
- handful fresh dill
- 1–3 fresh red chilies – or add chili flakes (optional)
- 3–4 bay leaves ( or a grape leaf)
You’ll need a 1/2 gallon mason jar, crock, or 2 quart-sized jars- clean and sterile.
- Rinse the cucumbers and place in an ice-water bath, to crisp them up (10-20 minutes).
- Warm one cup of the water on the stove, and stir in all the salt until dissolved. Let cool to room temp. Mix this cup with the remaining 5 cups water. You will end up with 2.5% saltwater brine.
- In a large, clean two quart jar, layer the cucumbers, garlic slices, fresh dill sprigs, bay leaves and spices.
- Pour the saltwater brine over top, leaving an inch of headroom.
- Weigh down the cucumbers if need be, so they are submerged under the brine. ( Use a fermentation weight, or a small ziplock back with a little water in it). Place a lid on it, loosely tightened. Place in a pan or bowl to collect any overflow and leave it in a cool dark place for 3-7 days, checking after 3 days ( a basement, or lower kitchen cupboard).
- After 3 days, check for signs of life: bubbles, clouding. Check every day after. Tap the jar, and see if tiny bubbles rise to the top.
- Once you see active bubbles you can place the jar in the fridge, where it will continue to ferment, but much more slowly. Slow and cool ferments seem to yield the best results here.
- If you like a fizzy brine, tighten the lid, burping every week or so. If you don’t want to think about it, give the lid one loose twist, so it’s on there, but gases can escape.
If you need more brine, make sure you use the same ratio- 1 teaspoon sea salt per one cup of water.
If using a grape leaf, place it on the side of the jar, then layer remaining ingredients.
BRINE: This recipe is a 2.5 % saltwater brine, which is considered “safe”. It equals 6 grams of salt per one cup of water. I’ve had really good luck with this ratio – and this ratio allows me to drink the brine (like a shot) because it is not too salty. If you want a stronger, saltier brine, feel free to go up to 3.5%.
- 2.5% ratio = 6 grams salt per one cup of water. ( 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, per 1 cup water)
- 3% ratio = 7 grams salt per 1 cup of water. (1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, per 1 cup water)
- 3.5% Ratio= 9 grams of salt per 1 cup of water. ( 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, per 1 cup water)
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