Lacto-Fermented Horseradish Dill Pickles


There is nothing like the tangy favor of traditional fermented pickles and cabbage. I know it seems strange with breakfast but fermented foods are a great way to start the day.

I have been asked for my recipe for Horseradish Dill Pickles. This time of year pickling cucumbers are everywhere and very cheap. Just make sure the cucumbers, garlic and herbs have not been sprayed. If they have been sprayed the fermentation will not occur. This recipe is very easy for someone new to fermentation. The horseradish leaf was traditionally used to keep the pickles crunchy longer. Eat the pickles within two months, which is easy because they are so good, or they start to get soft.

1 gallon fermentation crock or glass container with lid
1 stoneware or glass saucer that can fit into the container
1 granite rock that can fit into the container

5 pounds un-sprayed or organic pickling cucumbers
1 large horseradish leaf
4 whole garlic cloves
2 large dill tops with flower or seed head
2T sea salt
3c fresh water to cover
1/4c juice from another culture (optional)

Put horseradish leaf, dill flower head and garlic cloves into the crock or glass container. Tightly fit in as many cucumbers as possible. Leave some space at the top for the saucer and rock. Mix up 2T of sea salt and about three cups of fresh water. Pour sea salt solution over cucumbers. Add extra water if necessary to completely cover cucumbers. Place saucer on top of the cucumbers and weigh down the saucer with the rock. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Bubbling should start within a day or two. The pickles will be ready in about a week. Store in the fridge.

You can speed up the process by use the fermentation juice from another culture you liked the taste of. Using a culture you like will give a consistent product. Some health food stores sell live culture pickles and sour kraut. You will find these products stored in the fridge. This culture can be used to start your own culture. If you cannot find live culture, I would be happy to supply anyone with starter culture.

Just remember wild fermentation requires no starter culture at all. Our kitchens are full of local spores which will inoculate your cucumbers. Lactobacillus is ubiquitous and present on all un-sprayed vegetables and fruit. It just takes a few days longer for the fermentation process to get going.

Update August 9, 2009: I get my un-sprayed pickling cucumbers and other vegetables from Liz Lyne at 250.578.8266. She grows fabulous pickling cucumbers and gave me the tip about horseradish leaf making pickles stay crunchy longer. She is at the Kamloops Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.