Simple Healthy Lacto-Fermented Pickles to Preserve the Garden Harvest

cucumbers laying in mulch

Garden Abundance

Learning how to preserve your garden harvest is a wonderful skill to incorporate when the garden is in full swing and there is an abundance of produce begging to picked with regularity. While enjoying fresh food in the moment is a true pleasure it can quickly turn from you feeling immense joy and satisfaction to complete overwhelm and burden when there is more than you know what to do with. Seeing good food that you have grown go to waste is not an option.

Let’s take cucumbers for example. Cucumbers are amazing fresh and a delight to bring into multiple dishes but what do when you have a ton of them? You can preserve them to enjoy later using lacto-fermentation! If you have any pickle lovers in your home like I do this is sure to be a hit.

garden harvest pickles laying on table ready for lacto-fermentation

Lacto-fermentation

Who doesn’t love multi-tasking? Lacto-fermentation is one of my favorite forms of preservation because of its multi-tasking abilities. I love being able to extend the life of produce and at the same time amp up its nutritional value. Fermentation in this way adds some beneficial probiotics to the cucumbers. Who doesn’t need more of those? Another plus…it’s easy. No fancy tools are needed so anyone regardless of skill or fancy equipment can give this a try.

I also appreciate that with lacto-fermentation you don’t have to be precise. Don’t get me wrong following a recipe can be super helpful but sometimes you don’t have the exact things called for or you don’t have a clean hand to pull out your cookbook or search on your phone. This is where basic guidelines and formulas come into play, which allows for more freedom and creativity in the kitchen.

Basic Fermentation Brine

To create a basic brine I like to combine 4 T of real salt to a half gallon of water. I do this mainly because it is easy to remember but know there is even flexibility here. Some people will add a little less and some a bit more depending on the percentage of salt they want in their brine. Use this as a starting point and in future ferments you can adjust to your taste. You can add a bit of warm water to the glass to help dissolve the salt faster and then top off with cold water the rest of the way. If you end up with extra brine you can put it in the fridge for the next time you have veggies to work with. The basic brine is all you need to create your ferment.

healthy cucumbers, spices, herbs, and jar on cutting board lying on table prepared for fermentation

Creative Additions

Let’s talk about extras you can try to give your ferment a boost in flavor. If you want that classic dill pickle taste adding some mustard seeds, peppercorns, garlic and dill are all great options. If you like some heat you could add a hot pepper. I find that including a bay leaf or two helps to keep the final pickle a bit crisper. With lacto-fermentation combining multiple types of veggies or changing up herbs and spices allows you to use up what you have on hand and find some flavor combinations that you enjoy the best.

Again, no measuring required just place the spices you want in the jar and put in your cucumbers. Any type of cucumber you have will work and they can be whole, sliced, or cut into spears, whichever you prefer. Small pickling cucumbers are great to add whole. If you missed a cucumber in the garden and it got bigger than you’d like, or you grew a different variety, or if you want them ready for a sandwich later, then slicing is a great option.

Keeping Cucumbers Below the Brine

The most important part about fermenting is to make sure the vegetables stay below the water line. Weigh them down with something. This prevents mold from forming. No one wants mold. You could use a cabbage leaf or a weight of some kind. If you find out you like this process these are the weights I use and find to be very convenient.

Fermentation Glass Weights

There are specific lids you can buy for fermenting but you don’t have to have them, any lid will do. Here are some that I have purchased. They are nice because you can mark the date you started the ferment which is helpful to know. If your anything like me I have a tendency to forget how many days my ferment has been sitting on the counter. These lids also let air out but do not let any in which is what we want with fermentation.

Airlock Fermentation Lids

jar lids and fermenting weights on table to help with preserving

Wait and Enjoy

After your ferment has sat on the counter out of direct sunlight for about 3-5 days you can take the weight out and give them a try. If you like the flavor transfer to the fridge for storage. You can let them go longer for a stronger flavor. Just keep trying and experimenting. And there you have it…easy and simple lacto-fermented pickles using the cucumbers you harvested from the garden.

sliced cucumbers in jar fermenting with lid on sitting on cutting board
three jars of lacto-fermented pickles made laying on table

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried making these simple healthy lacto-fermented pickles for preserving your garden harvest.

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