7.2.10 The Real Dill

Dillpickles 790 xxx
photos by george billard
As promised, here is the recipe for lacto-fermented dill pickles. In case you've forgotten, that means they are preserved with salt and bacteria—there's no boiling of the brine or anything. It really couldn't be easier. With some cucumbers, some dill, a few cloves of garlic, salt and water, the magic of pickling takes place. They sit out on the counter for about 3 days while the lactobacillus does its thing. I made both spears and chips, and I think I'm going to like them even better after they've been refrigerated. I like that cold, crisp snap. Today I'm making ice cream and popsicles, so I probably won't post again until Monday, when you'll get a chance to see how the Pulled Pork Fest turned out. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend, full of sunshine and friends and treats and relaxation. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: it's what we're all still entitled to, from sea to shining sea.
Chips 790 xxx

Dill Pickles

makes about 1 quart
  • — 4-5 Kirby cucumbers, or other type of pickling cuke
  • — 5 garlic scapes, chopped into 1-2" pieces; or 2-3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • — 3-5 large sprigs fresh dill
  • — 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • — 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • — 4 tablespoons whey (or substitute an additional tablespoon of salt)
  • — 1 cup water

Wash the cucumbers. Slice off both ends and discard. For spears, slice them lengthwise. For chips, slice into 1/4"-thick rounds.

Place cucumbers, dill, mustard seeds and garlic scapes or cloves into a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar. Mix salt and water in a small bowl and pour into the jar. Add additional water, if needed, so that the vegetables are completely covered and the liquid comes to about 1" below the top of the jar.

Screw the lid on tightly and keep at room temperature for three days. The liquid will become cloudy and a bit fizzy; this is what you want. Now you can store in the fridge or move to your cold cellar.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


Good luck with Pork Fest. I thought of you as they piled on the pork last night at Fette Sau in Williamsburg.
Vetivresse on July 2, 2010 at 11:36 am —
Here's pork in your eye!
laura on July 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm —
Hooray, I'm trying these tomorrow and the ketchup.!
Nancy on July 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm —
hi--love this! ok so i made this recipe as i've been dying to do this and when i got this post, i was inspired. i didn't have mustard seeds so i'm hoping it will be ok. quick question--the cukes, dill, garlic all rose to the top after about a day so there is about an inch of just liquid on the bottom. most everything is still submerged but i had to use a large jar with a small opening so i don't have anything that will fit to weigh it down. will this affect the process? tomorrow will be day 3....thx, nikki
nikki on July 21, 2010 at 10:50 am —
Nikki, the great thing about pickles is that they're very resilient—spice them as you like, let them sit around for a long time, whatever. It's nice to find a jar that they fit in snugly but it's not essential; just think of all those pickles swimming around in Gus' barrels! As long as they're submerged, they should be fine. And don't worry about any mishaps. As with all food, if it smells horrible, discard and start anew! Let me know how it goes...xo
laura on July 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm —
Finally got around to trying these and, wow! Just sampled after 3 days and they are better than I had imagined. The brine seems just right, and I used just tarragon & garlic because that's what I had. Now I want a pickle barrel!
Claiborne on July 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm —
Claiborne, Thanks for the update! Next time you're at a flea market or shopping on ebay, look for one of those old stoneware crocks with a lid. They're ideal for pickles. I actually prefer to put mine in the fridge, though, because I like them really cold, so large glass mason jars are my current receptacle of choice.
laura on July 24, 2010 at 4:27 am —
"or move to your cold cellar," you say in your recipe. Hmmmm. What is a cold cellar in a ranch house? With two fridges already full of fresh stuff for my wife and leftovers for my son? How cool is a "cold cellar"? 45 F? In Georgia? Well, maybe I should just boil the darn things in their jar for 15 minutes and kill all those good enzymes? Like the USDA says I must about every other thing? Ted
Ted on July 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm —
Ted, I hear you. A cold cellar is a luxury, right? I put my dills in the bottom of a pantry in my screened-in porch, or in the basement. Try picking the coolest place (in your garage, maybe?) and give it a shot. If your pickles go bad, you will smell and/or see it so there's no real worry. If you're interested in learning more about lacto-fermentation, I recommend this book, and this one.
laura on July 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm —