• Use the following quantities for each gallon capacity of your fermentation container: shopping list
  • Cucumbers - fresh, crisp - not wilted, soft or overripe! shopping list
  • 4 lbs of 4-inch pickling cucumbers shopping list
  • 2 tbsp dill seed or 4 to 5 heads fresh or dry dill weed (it is SO easy to grow, plant it next to your cucumbers) shopping list
  • 1/2 cup salt (canning or pickling salt - NOT table salt) shopping list
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (5 percent) shopping list
  • 8 cups water and one or more of the following ingredients: shopping list
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional) shopping list
  • 2 dried red peppers (optional) shopping list
  • 2 tsp whole mixed pickling spices (optional) shopping list
  • a fermentation crock shopping list
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  • Equipment: shopping list
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) shopping list
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) shopping list
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) shopping list
  • 1 large pots; teflon lined, glass or ceramic. shopping list
  • Large spoons and ladles shopping list
  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell many sizes and types of canners for all types of stoves and needs - see canning supplies shopping list
  • Pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at grocery stores, like Safeway, Publix, Kroger, grocery stores, even online - about $9 per dozen jars including the lids and rings). Be sure to get wide mouth jars to fit the pickles in! Pint size works best! shopping list
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once. shopping list
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times. shopping list
  • See this page for pickling supplies, equipment, books, crocks and additives. shopping list
  • shopping list
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  • Pickling Equipment Notes: shopping list
  • The basic equipment used for pickling is similar to other types of canning. However, there are some differences: shopping list
  • Utensils made of zinc, iron, brass, copper, or galvanized metal should not be used. The metal may react with acids or salts and cause undesirable color and taste changes in the pickles or make pickles unfit to eat. Likewise, enamelware with cracks or chips should not be used. shopping list
  • For fermenting and brining, a crock or stone jar, an unchipped enamel-lined pan, a glass jar, a bowl, or a casserole can be used for small quantities. Kegs and barrels (made of hardwood and either enamel, glass, or paraffin lined) can be used for larger quantities. The container used must be fitted with a flat dish to fit inside and cover the food in the brine. A weight is necessary to hold the dish down and to keep the foods below the surface of the brine. A glass jar filled with water and closed with a cap makes a good weight. shopping list

How to make it

  • Directions - How to Make Natural Fermented Old Fashioned Dill Pickles
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  • Step 1 - Selecting the cucumbers
  • It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality cucumbers!
  • At right is a of picture cucumbers from my garden - they are SO easy to grow. But be sure to grow the varieties that are labeled "pickling cucumbers" - they will be much more crisp!
  • The picture at right shows a good cucumber for pickling (bottom) and a bad one (top). The good one is dark green, firm, and not bloated. It has lots of warts!
  • The bad one is overripe, it has yellow or white areas in the skin, and the warts are almost all gone. If you cut it open, you will see developed seeds. You don't want seeds!
  • Overripe cucumbers make mushy pickles.
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  • Step 2 - How many cucumbers?
  • It takes about 3 or 4 cucumbers to fill a pint jar. Each cucumber is about 4 - 5 inches long and you will cut off the ends so they will fit with ¼-inch to spare..
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  • Step 3 -Wash and cut the cucumbers!
  • I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the fruit in plain cold water.
  • You will need to cut a 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end and discard, but you must leave the stem end and ¼-inch of the stem attached.
  • You may then pickle the cucumber whole; or you may choose to slice it in half lengthwise to make halves; and if you want, again to make spears (quarters).
  • Set them aside for use in step 6.
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  • Step 4 - Fill the crock
  • Place half of dill and spices on bottom of a clean, suitable container. For more information on containers see "Suitable Containers, Covers, and Weights for Fermenting Food," below
  • Add cucumbers, remaining dill, and spices.
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  • Step 5 - Add the vinegar and salt
  • Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers. Add suitable cover and weight.
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  • Step 6 - Store / ferment
  • Store where temperature is between 70ºF and 75ºF for about 3 to 4 weeks while fermenting. Temperatures of 55º to 65ºF are acceptable, but the fermentation will take 5 to 6 weeks. Avoid temperatures above 80ºF, or pickles will become too soft during fermentation. Fermenting pickles cure slowly. Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. Caution: If the pickles become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them.
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  • Step 7 - Long term storage
  • Whether you store them in the fridge or can them, you need to do the following 4 steps first:
  • Pour the brine into a pan,
  • heat slowly to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Filter brine through paper coffee filters to reduce cloudiness, if desired.
  • Fill jar with pickles and hot brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
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  • Next, follow either Option 1 OR Option2:
  • Option 1
  • Canning fully fermented pickles is simple, safe way to store them.
  • Get the jars and lids sanitizing
  • The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. I get that going while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars. If you don't have a dishwasher, submerge the jars in a large pot (the canner itself) of water and bring it to a boil.
  • Be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!
  • Get the canner heating up
  • Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on).
  • Start the water for the lids
  • Put the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes. Note: everything gets sanitized in the water bath (step 7) anyway, so this just helps to ensure there is no spoilage later!)
  • Adjust lids and process as recommended in Table below, or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described below.
  • Recommended process time for Dill Pickles in a boiling-water canner.
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  • Option 2 - Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment
  • The following treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Fully fermented pickles may be stored in the original container for about 4 to 6 months, provided they are refrigerated and surface scum and molds are removed regularly.
  • Place jars in a canner filled half way with warm (120º to 140ºF) water.
  • Then, add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars.
  • Heat the water enough to maintain 180º to 185º F water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185ºF may cause unnecessary softening of pickles.
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  • This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 1994. Reviewed June 2006.
  • Suitable Containers, Covers and Weights for Fermenting Food
  • A 1-gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables. Therefore, a 5-gallon stone crock is of ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cabbage or cucumbers. Food-grade plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks. Other 1- to 3-gallon non-food-grade plastic containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag. Click here to find out more about fermentation crocks. There is also a good book about making old-fashioned sauerkraut.
  • Caution: Be certain that foods contact only food-grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners. Fermenting sauerkraut in quart and half-gallon Mason jars is an acceptable practice, but may result in more spoilage losses.
  • Cabbage and cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the shredded cabbage or cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weight it down with 2 to 3 sealed quart jars filled with water. Covering the container opening with a clean, heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the vegetables are fermenting. Fine quality fermented vegetables are also obtained when the plate is weighted down with a very large clean, plastic bag filled with 3 quarts of water containing 4-1/2 tablespoons of salt. Be sure to seal the plastic bag. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable for use with 5-gallon containers.
  • The fermentation container, plate, and jars must be washed in hot sudsy water, and rinsed well with very hot water before use.
  • Causes and Possible Solutions for Problems with Fermented Pickles
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  • I personally recommend checking out their page! It is so full of information and a great site. I do not know how to tell you how much I like their page!

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