Updated: Jun 29, 2019
Once you make your own homemade dill pickles, you’ll never buy store bought again.
I’m a BIG fan of dill pickles. I’ve tried just about every pickle recipe out there (I even have a book devoted to pickling!) along with every technique, and these crispy garlic dill pickles are a hands-down favorite in my house.
No canning necessary, my crispy dill pickles are quick and simple to put together, and only take a few days to turn from cucumbers to crispy, delicious pickles
If you’ve never made pickles because the task has seemed too daunting, never fear, my favorite fermented crispy garlic dill pickles are so easy and so delicious that you’ll likely win a blue ribbon at the State Fair on your first try. Did I mention they are E.A.S.Y? Put the canner away, get out a few jars, spices, and pickling cukes and you’re less than a week away from AMAZING pickles!
BTW, have you ever tried Bubbies pickles? They are my favorite store-bought pickle, but pretty darned pricey at $6 a jar. These taste just like Bubbies but I can make them at home for literally pennies on the dollar. In fact, when I run out of pickles during the winter (I don’t have a fridge big enough to store all of the pickles we go through!) I buy Bubbies and save the brine from the jars and re-use it to make these pickles. Sometimes I don’t even add anything. I just throw some Persian cucumbers in the jar, let it sit on the counter for a week or less and voila, I have pickles. Now you’re wondering if you should just do that! Go ahead, but know that they won’t be as flavorful as when you follow the recipe below.
If you are lucky enough to have a pickle left over at the bottom of the jar that your kids didn’t gobble down, they are fantastic in tuna salad. I also love to add them to my Dad’s Famous Potato Salad.
If your kids are like mine and won’t get near a forkful of sauerkraut, never fear, just feed them these wonderful, probiotic rich pickles instead! They are kid approved, taste great and are a fantastic addition to any lunchbox!
Suggestions for what to use when you don’t have sauerkraut or pickle brine
If you’ve never made sauerkraut or fermented pickles before then you likely don’t have any extra brine laying around. Here are a few alternatives that I’ve used with success:
On the West Coast you can purchase a jar of Bubbies fermented pickles or sauerkraut. Use the brine from that jar as a starter for your homemade pickles. These are usually found in the refrigerator section of a health food store, or the health food section of a larger supermarket.
Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is another good bet. I used a tablespoon or two (per quart) in my pickles when I ran out of brine. You can use any brand that has a “mother” or is “live.”
Probiotic powder to equal 30 billion units/cells per quart. I have not used this method, however next time I make pickles I’m going to give it a try and see how it works. It works in other ferments, should not leave a taste, and should work as a starter just like it does in my cultured coconut yogurt. Keep in mind that you can also simply open a probiotic capsule. You don’t have to buy the powder. It’s all the same thing.
How to keep that 4 letter word -MOLD- out of your pickles
Let’s start by talking about how to keep mold from growing in the first place. As Lea from Nourishing Treasures says in her informative post The 3 Biggest Fermenting Mistakes You’re Already Making. “Oxygen is the enemy when it comes to ferments.” So, in order to keep mold from growing, you must keep the environment anaerobic, or free of oxygen.
There are only three ways (that I know of) to keep oxygen out of your ferments. #1 Luck #2 Airlock #3 Oil
I personally don’t seem to have much of #1 and I haven’t gotten around to #2. The truth is that #3 works so beautifully that I’m not sure I’ll bother with any other method.
Q: But what if I want to reach in and taste a pickle to see if it’s done?
A: Go right ahead. I got a little oil on my fingers, and there may have been a small amount on the pickle I ate, but I could not taste it, and did not have a slimy coating at all. I honestly could not even tell there was oil anywhere to be found, other than there was a slight coating on my fingers. I did not need to re-apply the oil to the top of the ferment either. The oil was a thin layer, but it did the job very effectively.
Q: Should I try to remove the coating of oil from the top of my ferment when it’s done fermenting?
A: Since these pickles are refrigerated after fermenting, the oil hardens at the top and can easily be removed at that point.
Q: If there is a white dust on my pickles, is it mold?
A: No, the brine will get cloudy and bubbly. That’s just part of the fermentation, and should be eaten. (see final picture)
That takes us to the part of this post where I talk about what to do if mold appears.
Here’s a jar of pickles that I did not add a layer of oil to….and yes indeedy that’s mold. 🙁
The good news here is that white mold is non-toxic. The pickles are still good tasting and safe to eat. However, when any kind of mold appears on my ferments it’s game over. I’ve tried to remove the thin layer of mold and let it continue to ferment on the counter but mold is persistent and once it takes hold it doesn’t go away. Also, if I let it go much longer than a day or two, I’ve had it turn into unsafe mold (see below). Therefore, if my ferment is anywhere near being “done” I remove the mold as best I can, put the whole thing in the fridge and eat it ASAP.
When mold is NOT safe
There are times when it is not safe to eat your ferment. When mold is black, red, orange, pink or has fuzz, throw the entire ferment out. Do not try to save any part of it! These kinds of molds have legs and they’ve already gotten to the finish line way before you.
Last but certainly not least, here is a picture of what your pickles will likely look like when they are done!
Let me know if you have questions or tips of your own in the comments below. There’s always more to learn when it comes to fermentation!