Garlic and Dill Lacto-Fermented Pickles

Traditionally, dill pickles were made by the lacto-fermentation process. Requiring nothing more than salt, cucumbers, water, and seasonings. But no vinegar! The fermentation process works because the high salt content kills off bad bacteria leaving the healthy bacteria alone. This style of pickling is not only healthy for you but tastes wonderful as well!

Prep Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
7 days
Total Time:
7 days 30 mins
1 gallon


  • 1 gallon spring water

  • ¾ cup sea salt

  • 5 pounds fresh pickling cucumbers

  • 3 (2 inch) pieces peeled horseradish root

  • 6 medium heads fresh dill

  • 2 large onions, cut into rings

  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

  • 5 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

  • 3 tablespoons whole mustard seeds

  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

  • 6 large bay leaves

  • 3 cups washed mustard greens, or as needed


  1. Pour a small amount of spring water out of the bottle. Add sea salt, put the cap back on, and shake until dissolved; set brine aside.

  2. Inspect a gallon-sized jar for cracks. Sterilize in simmering water.

  3. Cut off the blossom ends (opposite the stem ends) of cucumbers. Cut into thick rounds or spears, or leave whole. Slice each piece of horseradish root into 4 pieces. Mix peppercorns, mustard seeds, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

  4. Lay 2 heads of dill in the bottom of the sterilized jar; top with 1/3 of the onion rings, 1/3 of the garlic cloves, and 1/3 of the cucumbers, then pack down tightly. Sprinkle in 1/3 of the peppercorn mixture and 1/3 of the horseradish pieces. Repeat these layers twice more; jar will be fully packed except for top 1 to 2 inches. Fold up mustard greens and pack them tightly at the top. Pour in brine until completely full and covering mustard greens. Make sure there are no bubbles stuck inside the jar. Reserve excess brine.

  5. Place a small plate at the top of the jar to keep the contents weighed down. Cover with a towel and wrap jar top with a rubber band or twine to keep in place. Store in a cool location (60 to 80 degrees F, 16 to 27 degrees C) for 1 week; check brine level daily, adding more as needed to keep everything submerged.

  6. After 1 week, sample pickles for flavor. Cover and continue to ferment to desired flavor, up to 3 more weeks.

  7. Once pickles are done to your liking, divide into smaller, sterilized Mason jars and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator. If taste is too strong, pour out part of the brine and add spring water.

Cook's Notes:

The fermentation process causes bubbles to form so some of the brine will leak over the top of the jar. Put your jar in a large bowl to catch the mess! Brine may turn cloudy with time, this is normal.

Do not use a water or pressure canner! It will cook the cukes and kill the fermentation.

Don't use store-bought cucumbers as they have a wax coating that will interfere with the fermentation. If cucumbers aren't just picked, soak them for a few hours in ice cold water to freshen them. Don't use tap water, as it contains chlorine and other chemicals that prevent fermentation. Make sure to cut off blossom ends, this will keep pickles crispy.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of brine ingredients. The actual amount of brine consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

38 Calories
1g Fat
8g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 24
Calories 38
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Sodium 2651mg 115%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 14mg 68%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 32mg 180%
Potassium 272mg 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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