Homemade Fermented Pickles and Hot Peppers

Up until recently, pickles were a real big mystery to me. I had NO idea how one could turn a simple bright green, fresh and crisp cucumber into this yellow-brown-greenish salty, crunchy, vinegary delicacy.

I thought for sure that pickle making was just as long and complicated as making olives from scratch. Hey, for all I knew, maybe one even needed some kind of degree in chemistry to successfully make the transformation happen.

How often did I look at those pretty little pickling cucumbers when they were in season, hoping that I could bring a few home with me, but never dared because I thought that for one, they weren’t even edible unless they were pickled and two, since I didn’t hold one of those aforementioned degree in chemistry, there was no way I could successfully make pickles.

So I thought for sure, if I were to get some, that the poor little things would only end up dying a terrible, terrible death all alone and abandoned way in the back of the fridge.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Little did I know that pickle making couldn’t be easier. Well, fermented pickles, anyway. Basically, all you really need is a few fresh as can be pickling cucumbers, a little bit of salt and some bottled or boiled water.

Oh, a large air tight jar. That’s it. You don’t NEED anything else.

Right, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna want to add a few aromatics to that jar, but that won’t really add to the difficulty level and will only take a few more seconds of your time, so that doesn’t count…

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

What you want to do is simply cut your cucumbers in half (or leave them whole if you prefer), cut the ends off and stuff as many of them as will fit into your jar. Then throw your favorite spices and aromatics right in.

I chose to use garlic, dill (both in the fresh and seed form), hot peppers and pickling spices.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Mix your salt and water until the salt is completely dissolved then pour that right into the jar until the pickles are completely covered. You need a ratio of about 1 tsp of salt per cup of water.

If you wanted to draw more flavor out of your spices, you could also do this is by heating the dill seeds, pickling spice, salt and water until it comes to a simmer then let this brine come back to room temperature before adding it to the jar.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Once the pickles are completely covered with the brine, find something that you can shove in that jar to keep them entirely submerged. It is very important that they remain under the brine for the whole duration of the fermentation process, else they will start developing some mold and your batch will be ruined. So long as they remain under the anaerobic safety of the brine, they’ll be fine.

It’s also important that you leave about 1 inch of head space to allow the brine to bubble up without the jars exploding on you.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now close the lid but not hermetically. A lot of carbon dioxide will be produced during the fermentation process and that needs to escape somehow. If like me you like to use hinged top glass jars, simply remove the rubber thingy that makes them air tight then close the lid normally. Undo the clip to loosen the lid once in a while to to allow some of the carbon dioxide to escape.

If you’re using Mason type jars, just make sure you screw your covers rather loosely. Again, it might be a good thing to loosen the lids all the way once in a while to let the excess gas escape.

That’s it. It’s that easy. Now all you need to do is leave this jar of cucumbers on the counter for 7 to 10 days, until the fermentation process is done turning your cucumbers into pickles. Yep, the magic happens all by itself. You won’t need to perform any crazy chemistry wizardry, I swear.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Before you know it, your cucumbers will have turned into delicious pickles. Now, I strongly suggest that you refrigerate them for a couple of hours or even overnight before you try them, otherwise, you might find them to be a bit on the mushy side. Mind you, I find that this much holds true even for store-bought pickles. A cold pickle is definitely a crispier pickle! And the fresher the cucumbers you use to start with, the crispier your pickles will be!

Notice how the brine got all cloudy? That is perfectly normal and is caused by the lactic acid bacteria during fermentation. So don’t flip when that happens to you. It will eventually settle after a couple of weeks in the fridge (if you manage to keep your pickles that long) and will become clearer.

Now, if you are a fan of really vinegary pickles, know that fermented pickles do not taste much like vinegar at all. Just like good old fashioned pickles, they are salty, garlic-y, somewhat tangy, crunchy, but not vinegary. So if you want them to have a real vinegary flavor, you can always add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the jar after they are done fermenting and give them another week to soak in that newly added flavor before you eat them.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If like me you’re into hot peppers, why not whip of a jar of those while you’re at it?

The process is even easier: stuff peppers in jar, cover with brine, close the lid.

Fermented Pickles | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Again, just make sure you find something that you can fit in there, a small bowl or lid, to keep the peppers below the water line.

Leave these on the counter right next to your cucumbers and wait for the magic to happen.

Fermented Hot Peppers | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

And TADA! Beautiful HOT, really, really HOT peppers!

Frankly? I’m never gonna buy these ready made ever again. Making my own is way too much fun and so rewarding. Plus, I know exactly what goes into my jars!

So there you have it, I hope that this post inspired you to try your hand at making pickles at home and that next time you come across beautiful, fresh pickling cucumbers, you’ll be tempted to take a few home with you… I know I will. No way I’ll ever be able to resist them anymore.

Home Made Fermented Pickles

Home Made Fermented Pickles


  • 6-7 very fresh pickling cucumbers
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 bird's eye chili peppers, fresh or dried
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp dill seeds
  • 1 tbsp pickling spice
  • 3 cups bottled or boiled water, at room temperature
  • 1½ tbsp Himalayan or unrefined salt (kosher or pickling would also work, make sure the salt contains no caking agent)
  • 1 large, very clean glass jar (2 pint Mason type or hinged-top jar)


  1. Trim the ends from the cucumbers and cut them in half if desired. You can also leave them whole if you prefer.
  2. Stuff the cucumbers so they fit snuggly in the jar and add fresh dill, bird's eye peppers, dill seeds and pickling spice
  3. Mix salt and water in a large measuring cup, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers until they are completely submerged. Make sure to leave at least 1 inch of head space to allow the brine to bubble up during fermentation without exploding the jars on you.
  4. Alternatively, if you wanted to draw more flavor out of your spices, you could also do this is by heating the dill seeds, pickling spice, salt and water over medium heat until it comes to a simmer then let this brine come back to room temperature before adding it to the jar.
  5. Once the cucumbers are completely covered with the brine, place a small non-reactive object such as a small dipping bowl, shot glass or plastic lid over them to make sure they remain entirely submerged then close the lid although not hermetically. Either screw your cover loosely or remove the rubber band that makes hinged-top jars air-tight before closing it.
  6. Leave your pickles to ferment on the counter for 7 to 10 days. During that period, you’ll want to crack open your jar every once in a while to let the excess gas escape.
  7. After 7 to 10 days, transfer your now pickles to the refrigerator where they will keep for several weeks.
  8. Optionally, if you like your pickles to be a little more on the vinegary side, you can add a little bit of vinegar to the jar once the fermentation process is complete. Let your pickles macerate for a couple more days before eating them.

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  1. says

    Homemade fermented pickles and peppers are my weak spot. Seriously, I could kill for a jar of those. But for this one time let’s settle this without bloodshed.
    Just name the price and I will pay. 😉

    • says

      Sorry my friend, I’m afraid if you want some of those pickles, you’re gonna have to get them at the source (aka, here, in this very house!)

      However, in order to avoid bloodshed, I am totally willing to throw in some home made sauerkraut and corned beef along with aforementioned pickles. That is my best offer. Take it or leave it?

      Oh, and uhm, I’d hurry if I were you. Those pickles are going fast, you know! 😉

        • says

          Oh maaan, now you’re not playing fair! The Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies?!!?! Now I would be the one doing the killing for a couple of those. Alright then, you win. Guess we have a deal.

          You’re tough man, real though! 😉

    • says

      Really? Are you saying they’re not available in your part of the world? They are usually all over the place during the months of autumn here in Quebec. I haven’t tried it, but I hear small Lebanese cucumbers also work well. I am very tempted to give them a try and if I do, I’ll let you know how the experiment turned out.

        • says

          Oh man, I feel for you! Mind you, there are things that I can’t really get my hands on here either and have to order from the US. Redboat fish sauce, Coconut Aminos and Kerrygold butter come to mind. Raw milk is a big no no here, too, so that and all that comes with is also impossible to find. Bummer!

          I will definitely keep you posted on the cucumber situation! :)

        • says

          Good news Michelle, IT DOES WORK!!! I made a batch using small Lebanese type cucumbers, and they turned out really really good. Very crunchy, same look and feel as regular pickles. In fact, I think that someone would be kind of hard pressed to tell the difference. The taste is a little bit different, however. Strangely enough, they have more of a cucumber flavor to them, so I definitely recommend adding a few tablespoons of vinegar to the brine after fermentation, then let them soak up that new flavor for a few days, in the fridge, before you eat them. I’m real happy to have tried, now I can basically make my own pickles year round! BOOM! 😀

  2. says

    It’s one of those things I’ve been wondering about forever…. Like you I thought this would be difficult, but I guess it’s as with chutney. I always had this weirded a making it was hard and it was so utterly simple! Thanks for this. You convinced me to try!

  3. Diana says

    I just made these and after filling my jar with the pickles and making the salt water solution I had about 1/2 cup of salt water left. Is that going to create a problem with them fermenting right if the salt is off? I live in Tx and my house is usually about 77 degrees. Should I add salt to the jar and shake it? or should they be okay?

  4. Lori says

    I was just wondering if I need to keep them submerged under the brine after they have fermented for week and I have moved them to the refrigerator? Or can I take the weights out? Thanks.

  5. says

    I make pickles in a similar manner, using a ceramic crock. One trick to keep the pickles crunchier is to add grape leaves at the bottom of the crock – I suggest for your jar, a single fresh grape leaf on the bottom, then pile everything else on top; that should suffice. Also – my latest batch: a friend at work gave me 2 fresh ghost peppers from his garden. I diced one up, and added to a batch (25 small cukes, 1 1/2 gal brine) – and 10 days later – amazing! Delicious! Addictive!

    • says

      I’d read about that trick before… the problem is with finding grape leaves! I find, however, that my pickles have been ample crunchy even without the grape leaves, so I don’t really see a need to get out of my way to try and find some. If I ever do come across them, however, I’ll make sure to give them a try!

    • says

      i have access to the fresh grape leaves. do you have any tips for preserving these pickles? i would like to make more than one jar to last me through the winter. i would also like them to be preserved so that i can give them as gifts. thoughts?

      • Keith says

        I don’t know of any way of keeping these for an extended period. They will keep for a month, maybe, in the fridge. But that’s it. I think the only way you’d be able to create gifts would be to find gherkins and process them 1-2 weeks before you want to ‘gift’ them – and they can’t be shipped easily either (must stay refrigerated). Sorta outta luck. I’m in Minnesota; being early September, I’m just about at the end of this season. I’m going to have to go cold turkey pretty soon. Nasty.

  6. says

    i very much want to make these pickles, but i would like to make a larger quantity while cucumbers are so available. is there any way to preserve them longer? will canning kill everything good in them and make the fermentation pointless? any thoughts? :)


    • says

      They will preserve for a wee while, Erika, but they do have to be kept in the fridge. Canning them will indeed kill the fragile bacteria, rendering the fermentation process pointless indeed.

      My solution was to buy a second hand fridge to store my fermented vegetables, sauerkraut and kombucha…

  7. Danielle says

    I am new to this – what do you use as the weight? I noticed that I can buy things specific for that but was wondering of any other suggestions.

    Thank You

  8. LCC says

    Hi Sonia.

    I made my pickles before I came across your method. I have several questions.

    1)I made mine with a different recipe – http://www.food.com/recipe/pickled-lebanese-cucumber-494648 Do you see anything wrong with this method? The only salt I used was to initially dehydrate the pickles for 4-5 hours. I did not add any to the vinegar/water mixture. It mentions 200g salt, but I supposed that was for the pre-canning portion of the recipe as it is not mentioned in brine creation.

    2)I had limited jars available. I used a 6x6x6 Rubber Maid Plastic container with lid. I had heard many people use plastic for short-term pickling. Is this okay? Is it air tight enough?

    3)What is the risk for botulism with pickles? I’ve heard a lot of debate back and forth on whether you actually need to seal your jars/containers via boiling.

    Thank you.

  9. says

    Help! After less than a week, mold began to grow. There is a white film at the bottom. Why? What did I do wrong? Are they done; must I throw them out?

  10. Stan Wells says

    Is it possible to ferment cauliflower? Pickles are great, but I love pickled cauliflower.

    • says

      I’ve never tried, but I’m sure it’s feasible! The process would be the same… Now you really had me want to try this. As luck would have it, I just bought a HUGE head of cauliflower. Guess I know what I’ll be doing today! :)

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