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Live-Culture Sour (or Half-Sour) Dill Pickles

Live-Culture Sour (or Half-Sour) Dill Pickles Related:   condiments & sauces, gluten-free, kid-friendly, low-fat, pareve, vegan, vegetables & legumes, vegetarian

Prep time: 2–10 days

Cook time: None

Yield: 1 quart jar

Lacto-fermentation is the artisanal method of harnessing live cultures of microorganisms to create lactic acid, a natural preservative. Lacto-fermentation has been practiced by humans all over the world since the dawn of time. Fermented foods are known to have numerous health benefits, including fortifying the immune system and helping your digestive system get the most nutrients out of the food you eat. Lacto-fermentation involves mixing a brine of salt and water at room temperature, adding seasonings and fresh cucumbers and allowing it all to ferment together at room temperature. When fermenting, we use temperature to control our microscopic friends and refrigerate to stop the fermentation process. Fermented pickles can be kept refrigerated for up to a year. Note: This recipe is for a quart jar; you can scale up to use a half-gallon jar or larger.


  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt (free of flow agents or additives)
  • Water
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 1-3 flowering dill heads
  • 2-4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced or coarsely chopped
  • 5-8 pickling cucumbers, halved, quartered or left whole depending on size and your preference


  • Always begin with an empty jar and put your salt into the empty vessel. Then add some warm water to dissolve it, followed by cool water until your jar is just over half full of water. Stir until you no longer see salt crystals.
  • Add spice blend, dill heads and garlic. Next pack your cucumbers into the jar bringing the level of brine to the top of the jar. Make sure the brine fully covers the cucumbers! Use the neck of the jar to lodge the cucumbers under. Any cucumber sticking out of the brine will rot and turn mushy. Loosely cover the jars (don't screw the caps on tightly) and place in a dish or pan to catch any spillover.
  • Ferment your cucumbers on the counter or in a cupboard at 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 10 days. After 2 days, they will be “half sours”—crunchy, deli-style pickles that still taste of fresh cucumber. After 5 days they should be approaching the full sour flavor. Try them every few days and stop the fermentation process when you like what you taste by putting them in the fridge, thus bringing the temperature below the activity level of the lactobacillus.

4 Responses

  1. Kerri says:

    I want to make these. Do you leave the lids off while fermenting on the counter?

    • Merav Levkowitz Merav Levkowitz says:

      No, Kerri, once the brine covers the cucumbers, put the cover on loosely (don’t secure it tightly). Let us know how they come out!

  2. Barry says:

    Followed the recipe just now and the cucumbers float so they are not totally below the water line. What do I do to remedy that
    Thank you

    • Merav Levkowitz Merav Levkowitz says:

      You can try wedging them into the edges of the jar, so that one holds the others down, or stuffing the top with dill, so it pushes them down. There are also pickle weights that you can buy to weigh them down.

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