Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Probiotic Dill Pickles

Note to self:
No matter how much you love pumpkins, do not let a volunteer pumpkin grow next to your cucumber bed.

I planted my cucumbers way out back behind the chicken coop (the chickens are out in their pasture pens, so they're not close enough to destroy any vegetables, but it's very well-fertilized from their *ahem* deposits all last winter). Since I can't see the plants easily, I kind of forgot about them. When I went out to check on them this afternoon, this is what I found. See any cucumbers in there???

Well, after wading through the pumpkin vines, I did find some cucumber plants, and even a few veggies ready to pick. But I also realized that something needed to be done. I carefully pruned away most of the pumpkin vines (realizing halfway through that the bulk of them were not actually pumpkin vines, but a volunteer patty pan squash or two. This was a relief, since I don't particularly care for pattypan squash, and felt much better about ripping those out than my precious pumpkins! There were a few ripe squash of harvestable size, so I saved those and shredded them later for making into zucchini chocolate chip cookies.)

A half hour later, I had removed most of the intruding vines (except one pumpkin plant I just couldn't bring myself to pull - it had four big Cinderella-style pumpkins already growing on it, and since I didn't have any other plants with that shape of pumpkin on them, I gave in and let them stay - did I mention I'm a sap when it comes to pumpkins?) The cucumber plants were long and straggly, so instead of trying to train them up the tomato cages, as I'd originally intended, I laid them down on top of some old cardboard boxes - hopefully this will make it easier to find the ripe cukes, and keep them from rotting in the wet grass.

(Can you see that adorable pumpkin on the right edge of the picture? How could I pull that cute thing out???)


With the eight or so pickling-sized cukes I found under that jungle of vines, I decided to make our family's favorite dill pickles (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions - I changed up the spices a bit, so they taste more like what my family's used to; similar to the Vlasic dill pickles we used to buy).

Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles
for each pint, place:
one head of dill
one clove of garlic
enough cucumbers to fill jar
1 Tablespoon of salt (sea salt works fine)
Cover with water (you can add some whey for a little kick-start), leaving an inch of headspace (this will bubble up as it ferments). Place a lid on the jar and leave at room temperature for 3 days, "burping" the jar regularly to release pressure. After three days, move the jars to a refrigerator or cool cellar for long-term storage.

I love this recipe because not only are they good for you, but you don't have to can them! I appreciate any excuse not to have to heat up the house in July and August. It's also nice that you can just make a jar now and again as you have cukes - you don't have worry about making a full canner load.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.


  1. How come I didn't realize sooner that the lacto-fermented pickles didn't need to be canned? So simple!

    Oh, yeah... it's because I haven't finished reading Nourishing Traditions like my favorite Cheerful Agrarian told me to...

  2. if you use a cattle panel for your cucumbers they are super easy to find. we have been using some for our for about four years now all we did was cut the in half and zip tie the solid end together and used the spiked end after cutting it to poke in the ground. great thing is I can walk underneath them and just pick cucumbers, no searching needed and they will last for a really long time.