I’ve made plenty of homemade pickles in my life, but I will tell you right here that these fermented crock pickles are by far the best I’ve ever tasted! They are so delicious that we can’t stop eating them and we savor every.single.bite. These homemade fermented crock pickles are just like the ones my Great Grandmother used to make in the early to mid 1900’s. Now that is a vintage recipe!
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Last month we picked up a bunch of pickling cucumbers from our friends’ farm down the road since our cucumber plants didn’t produce enough for us to make pickles this year. I told my mom I wanted to make fermented pickles in a crock and this immediately sent her down memory lane.
She shared memories of being a young girl helping her grandmother make “crock pickles”. Back when my mom was young, people didn’t commonly refer to this as “fermenting” or “lacto-fermentation” like we do today although the process is pretty much the same.
We decided to make a batch of fermented crock pickles together in honor of my great-grandmother and our homesteading roots!
This recipe for fermented pickles creates a deliciously salty, sour dill pickle. We absolutely love them! I am known for having a sweet tooth and traditionally made only a huge jar of our sweet and crunchy refrigerator pickles. But the last few years I’ve also developed an appreciation of sour foods, hence my love of these sour fermented dill crock pickles and our homemade pickled beets!
Types of fermenting vessels
Similar to the way we make fermented sauerkraut, I use a variety of vessels for my fermenting. For making crock pickles, I used a lovely handmade crock I found at a yard sale earlier in the summer. This crock fit just under a dozen small pickling cucumbers that we fermented whole. You can also use a glass jar with one of these snazzy fermenting lids.
How to make fermented sour dill crock pickles
My Great Grandmother’s recipe for crock pickles was not technical in regards to the brine solution since there wasn’t the science behind fermenting like we have today. We consulted my favorite fermenting book, Wild Fermentation, for more exact quantities on salt brine ratios.
There are variations on the saltiness of the brine when making fermented pickles. The process of fermentation is quicker when it is warm, so using a higher salt level in the brine is preferred during hot weather. During cooler weather, a lower salt level in the brine is preferred. Your taste preference for salty pickles can also influence the salt brine ratio you pick for making fermented pickles. You will need to choose one of the three salt brine ratios below:
- A low salt brine ratio for 1.8% brine solution is 1 TBS sea salt dissolved in 1 Quart of water.
- A medium salt brine would be 3.6% brine solution of 2 TBS sea salt dissolved in 1 Quart of water.
- A high salt brine ratio for hot weather fermenting is 5.4% brine of 3 TBS sea salt dissolved in 1 Quart of water.
– Small pickling size cucumbers
-3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
-2-3 heads of fresh dill, rinsed clean
-fine sea salt (we use this kind)
-3-4 leaves that contain tannin (such as grape, oak or raspberry leaves- this helps keep them crunchy so don’t skip the leaves!)
- Step 1: Wash the cucumbers to remove any dirt but don’t scrub too hard. Remove the blossom end if still attached to the bottom of the cucumber.
- Step 2: Soak the cucumbers in ice water for a few hours unless they were just picked fresh from the vine.
- Step 3: Place the garlic cloves, dill and tannin containing leaves in the bottom of a clean/sanitized fermenting crock. Remove the cucumbers from the ice water and place them on top of the garlic,dill and leaves.
- Step 4: Choose the level of salt brine referenced above the list of ingredients. Stir the salt into the water to make a brine. Pour the brine over the cucumbers in the crock until the cucumbers are completely covered.
- Step 5: Place a clean weight on top to hold the cucumbers under the brine level. I found a glass bowl in my kitchen that fit perfectly down inside the handmade crock I use for fermenting pickles so this worked perfect as a weight.
- Step 6: Cover the crock with a thin kitchen towel or cheesecloth held on with a rubber band. This will allow air flow but keep out dust and any little insects like fruit flies that may be attracted to the scent of the fermenting goodness!
- Step 7: Sit the crock out of direct sunlight at room temperature and allow to ferment for 1-4 weeks. In the first week you should start to see bubbles appearing in the brine which means fermentation is occurring. You can start eating them after a week but we think they get more delicious the longer they ferment. After 3-4 weeks, the brine will start to look cloudy. To slow the process of fermentation, store the crock pickles in the refrigerator.
While fermenting, check the pickles occasionally to ensure there is no mold growing. If mold starts to grow, remove it immediately! We didn’t have any issues with mold growing in our fermented crock pickles since we used clean fermenting vessels and clean hands when making them.
We started smelling the fermenting dilly scent from our pickle crock on the counter after a few days. About a week after we first put the cucumbers in the crock to ferment, we couldn’t help but try one of our homemade fermented pickles. They were so delicious! Everyone in the family raved about them, even 2 year old Little Brother wanted seconds!
We waited another week and ate another one. It was even more dilly, garlicy and sour! After four weeks of fermenting on the counter top, we stored the fermented crock pickles that we hadn’t eaten yet in the refrigerator. We made this batch of crock pickles with a high salt brine of 5.4%. The fermented pickles were salty but we love them that way!