By Monica Ford -
I know it sounds crazy but I have fermented hundreds of gallons of pickled veggies. I’m a therapeutic chef and I’m focused on ancestral cuisine including fermentation. So, when you use one of my recipes, you can be sure I’ve tested it and made it as foolproof as possible.

Have you made sauerkraut, chutneys and pickles galore? How were your pickles? Were they crisp and delicious? It’s ok. You can tell me the truth.

One of the most frequent fermentation flops I see are soft or hollow pickles. It’s a shame, because pickles are a classic, fundamental and can be an encouraging way to begin your metamorphosis into a confident, master fermenter.

Science is now showing that fermented foods support the good health of our vital systems. Amazing new findings show a link between balanced gut bacteria and lower incidence of dementia, autistic spectrum disorders, better blood pressure, lower risk of diabetes, efficient digestion and of course, a strong immune system. Want to learn more about this? Check out my favorite book right now Brain Maker . It’s mind-blowing!
· You need tannins for crisp pickles. This includes ingredients like grape leaves, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, cloves, oak leaves or black tea. This is why I choose to include grape leaves in my pickle fermentations.

· Do not ferment the cucumber blossom ends. The blossom ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that can make hollow pickle syndrome and an over-all softer pickle product more likely. Let’s be honest. No one likes soft pickles.

· Rinse your jars. Make sure you’re jars are clean but, if they are brand new, make sure you rinse them with very hot water before fermenting in them. Most manufacturers of jars for food spray a anti-bacterial solution into the jars before sending them out into the market place.

· Use non-chlorinated water. Use filtered water or spring water to wash your veggies, rinse your jar and make your brine. Chlorine can kill the delicate bacteria for which you are trying to create a hospitable environment.

· Get an airlock IF: If you regularly use wild fermentation in your home and tend to get a little mold or yeast on your ferments, accept your micro-environment and get an airlock. I like this one .

It’s time to save this sun-kissed season and put your cucumbers up as pickles for BBQs, kid lunches, low-cal snacks and gut flora boosts!


1 clean quart jar

Dill Pickle Ingredients

· 2 cup filtered water
· ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
· 1 T sea salt
· 4-5 mini “pickling” cucumbers, whole
· Greens from 1 scallion
· 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
· 1 frond dill, fresh
· 2 bay leaves, dry or fresh
· 2 grape leaves
· 1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
· 1 generous pinch - ½ tsp whole mustard seed
· 2 whole cloves
· 2 whole allspice

Crunchy Dill Pickles Method

1. Brine
o Warm half of water and dissolve salt
o Add remaining water
o When water is cool, add vinegar
o Set aside
· Put bay leaves and all spices at bottom of jar
· Curl scallion and dill frond around bottom of jar on top of spices
· Remove cucumber ends and slice into ¼-inch rounds. Press cucumbers into jar
· Pour in brine to fill jar to ¾ full
· Lay grape leaves on top of cucumbers and press down as you pour the remaining brine in to level of 1-inch below lid. Make sure the brine holds the grape leaves down.
· Affix the lid tight
· Place jar on a plate in case the jar over-flows at all
· Allow to ferment (out of direct sunlight and in a room temperature environment; approx. 75-85F) for 2 days
· Remove grape leaves and store in refrigerator

Yield: 1 Quart Pickles