Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles + A Weck Jars Giveaway

Once a month, I feature a chapter from my book and partner with the folks from MightyNest on a related giveaway. This month, I’m focusing on the health benefits of cultured foods. Read on to learn more about how nutritious these can be, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for beautiful jars in which to make your own delicious versions.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

Naturally cultured foods and drinks are teeming with vitamins, live enzymes, and natural probiotics (bacteria that are helpful for reducing the amount of harmful organisms in the intestines). These were prevalent in the diets of our ancestors, yet they’re not frequently consumed by most people today. Cultured (aka lacto-fermented) foods are good for everyone, but they are particularly useful if your digestion is poor or your immune system is weak (75% of your immune system’s cells reside in your digestive tract!). Cultured foods foster a healthy digestive environment, and contribute to optimal wellness overall.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

How lacto-fermentation works: Bacteria known as lactobacilli convert sugars and starches into lactic acid. The presence of lots of lactic acid results in a food that’s exceptionally nutritious and much less prone to spoilage. Before there was refrigeration and before foods were canned to extend their shelf life, they were naturally preserved in small batches using the lacto-fermentation method. Examples of lacto-fermented foods and drinks include yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, and vegetable preparations such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

I try to include at least one serving of something that’s been lacto-fermented in my diet every day, but I eat more when I have any sort of digestive issue going on or on the rare occasion that I have to take antibiotics. You can purchase high quality versions of cultured foods at natural food stores, but I think knowing how to make your own is a good skill to have (plus you’ll save money). In the photos for this post, you see lacto-fermented asparagus, carrots, and cucumbers. I’ve included the recipe for the cucumbers below, along with some of my favorite fermentation resources.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are a good place to start if you want to begin making your own cultured foods. These are particularly beneficial for you because they contain many nutrients as well as fiber: you can add them to all sorts of dishes as condiments. I’ve been making my own cultured vegetables for years: once you get the hang of the process, you’ll see how easy it is (you don’t need much more than veggies, salt, and a little time), and you’re sure to become hooked. Then you can look forward to always having some cultured veggies on hand to enhance your meals…and your health!

(Text adapted with permission from my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Lifeby Winnie Abramson. Copyright 2013 by Chronicle Books.)

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spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

Do you already make your own cultured veggies? To help you with the process, or to get you started if you are new, MightyNest will give one of my readers 9 beautiful Weck glass jars. These jars don’t have to be used for cultured veggies, of course: Weck jars can be for storage and decoration, for making pickles with vinegar, and they are also perfect for water bath canning. (They are made of thick glass to withstand boiling and sterilization. The glass lids are immune to rusting and can be used again and again.) The winner will receive three 1 liter asparagus jars, three 1 liter tulip jars, and three 3/4 liter molds (the photos in this post show one of each). The approximate retail value of this giveaway is $50.

This giveaway is only open to readers in the USA and ends on 5/26/14 at 11:59PM Central Time. Please leave a comment on this post and pledge to add some culture to your diet via the widget below, and you’ll be entered to win the Weck jars. Good luck!

More of my cultured/lacto-fermented recipes:

Kimchi
Kombucha
Sauerkraut

Cultured/lacto-fermented recipes from blogging buddies:

Spicy Lacto-fermented Carrots (With Food and Love, adapted from my book)
Fermented Salsa (Tasty Yummies)
Water Kefir (Nourished Kitchen)

Helpful Books:

Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods
The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas

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Recipe for Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles

According to traditional foods expert Sally Fallon (author of the book Nourishing Traditions), an ambient temperature of 72°F/22°C is ideal for making lacto-fermented vegetables. At this temperature, the process should take 2 to 4 days (if your kitchen is cooler, it will take longer, and if it’s warmer, things will speed up).
These pickles are a little bit sweet and pack quite a bit of heat; I adore them and snack on them frequently.
For this recipe, you'll need a 1-qt/960-ml glass canning jar with a lid made of metal, BPA-free plastic, or glass.
To keep your pickles extra crisp, you can try adding something that provides tannins, such as a horseradish, oak, or grape leaf (I do not generally do this and I think the pickles are just fine).

Ingredients

  • *5 or 6 pickling Kirby cucumbers, or 6 or 7 small Persian cucumbers (about 1 lb/455 g), ends trimmed off, and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
  • *1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • *1 tablespoon all-natural Thai fish sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • *1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • *1 jalapeño pepper thinly sliced
  • *1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • *1 tablespoon minced ginger

Instructions

  • 1. Clean the glass jar in hot, soapy water, or use the hottest setting on your dishwasher.
  • 2. Combine the cucumbers with the salt, fish sauce, maple syrup, jalapeño. garlic, and ginger in a medium bowl. Mix well, then transfer everything to the glass jar. If a few pieces of the cucumbers don't fit, that's fine; you can just eat them.
  • 3. Add enough water (preferably filtered water) so the liquid covers the cucumbers. (The cucumbers may want to pop up over the brine, so to ensure they stay below it, I've started putting a piece of sliced cucumber over the top of the pickles as a "weight"...you can see what I mean in the top photo of this post). I discard the "cucumber weight" once I transfer the pickles to the refrigerator.) It's important to leave about 1 inch/2.5 cm. of room at the top of the jar before closing the lid. If you don't leave enough room, liquid may seep out of your jar as the pickles ferment.
  • 4. Allow your pickles to sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 days. You'll know they're done when the brine begins to bubble; do not worry if the brine is a bit cloudy- this is completely normal (it's also normal for the hue of the cucumbers to darken a bit). Enjoy right away, or store in the refrigerator, where the pickles with keep for at least 2-3 weeks: the heat from the jalapeños will mellow a bit as they sit in the brine.

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71 thoughts on “Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles + A Weck Jars Giveaway”

  1. I make a compact airlock for lacto-fermentation, and I keep hearing people talk about Weck jars (mostly in EU). Yours is the first article that has shown them and recommended their use! Love the good photos!

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  4. I want to make more fermented foods… My hubs bought a HUGE crock for sauerkraut, and I would love to expand my pickle repertoire. And let’s not forget kombucha…these pickles are definitely on my “to make” list when the cuke harvest starts!!!

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  5. I have been making my own kombucha for a few months now, and I am excited to branch out to lacto-fermented vegetables!

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  7. Going to take advantage of Chicago’s awesome farmers markets & try our hand at this wonderful (& healthy) project!

    Reply
  8. I am taking a sabbatical this summer and fermenting foods is one of my projects to take on, I have been buying fermented and really want to make my own.

    Reply
  9. I bought a Kombucha starter kit over the weekend. Theses jars would be great for my cukes this fall. And they’re so elegant!

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  10. I love preserving my home grow organic goodness the earth and sky provides. I would love these jars to encase the healthy goodness.Just beautiful and BPA free!

    Reply
  11. Dealing with candidsias taught me so much about the importance of fermented foods! Thank you for sharing this post!

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  12. These would be great! I’m just starting my journey to healthier eating and am wanting to add fermenting to my menu.

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  13. So far my first attempt at sauerkraut is in the works, would love to try pickles too! definitely need jars :)

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  14. I adore my weck jars, and would love to add to my (tiny) collection! And fermented pickles are easily my favorite kind. So much better than vinegar-based ones!

    Reply
  15. I have an addiction to jars and these would make me so happy. I’ve been making my own Kefir for some time and am just being introduced to fermenting veggies. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and recipes.

    Reply
  16. I have never tried this but I am heading out to the store to get the stuff to give it a try. It sound so divine! Thank you for sharing!!

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  17. I drink kombucha a few times a week but I’d really like to start making my own and other recipes filled with probiotics!

    Reply
  18. Have a good friend who lacto-ferments almost everything in her garden! Have been wanted to get on the band wagon and try to make some pickled veggies too. I’d like to be able to share my bounty this summer.

    Reply
  19. i’ve been making ‘regular’ pickles with ACV for years. never thought to lacto-ferment them. i’m so excited to try this. and the only plants thriving in my garden right now are my cucumbers! yay! :)

    Reply
  20. I have just gotten into the fermented food world. Been some good and bad recipes. Still trying. Can’t wait to try this one out. Thank you!!!!!

    Reply
  21. Sorry got carried away there, I will definitely try those pickles. Last year my brother made zuchini pickles from his garden, they were very spicy! And strangely addictive. I am a big wimp when it comes to heat… you might want to add more red pepper if you like it hot. Adjust as you go.

    Reply
  22. I absolutely love Kimchi, making it, eating it…
    Here are a couple pictures of my latest batch I just put in the fridge. I have one jar still from last months batch that is all wonderlicious.

    http://www.evernote.com/shard/s256/sh/3ea32df6-615c-4e75-b4ab-ec53f41fa922/c9d107ccca6269c8736d46297b64ad7a

    I don’t use fish sauce anymore, I’ve found the taste is brighter without it and it reduces the salt content considerably. The last fish sauce I bought from the Korean Market, that had the LEAST sodium, had 10,000 mg per serving. Of course the serving size was 1/6th of the 1 liter bottle. Yikes.

    I’ve been making it so long that I don’t think much about it.
    I cut up a big head of nappa cabbage into chunks
    Add 2Tbsp of salt, sea or kosher and 2 cups of filtered water.
    Let sit for 8 hours or so, turning the cabbage every hour or so…drain off brine, reserving some.
    Mix about 3/4 c of crushed korean red pepper with a handful of garlic cloves and about a Tbsp of ginger in the food processor. Change the blade to the shredder and run some carrots through it.
    Then I cut up some green onions into slices, mix all the stuff in with the salted cabbage and stuff it in to my 1 qt bail jars.
    Now you have to keep the food below the water line, so what I do is press down the kimchi with my (clean!) hand and use smaller glass jars that have been well cleaned to keep it down. (that is a “better than bouillon” jar you see inside the bail jar, they work perfectly) Then add brine until it is above the level of the Kimchi. It will bubble up and make a mess sometimes so keep a paper towel under them during the “it’s alive!” phase.
    Let sit out until the smell is sour and fresh, like sourdough. Your nose will tell you if it’s wrong. Then put in the fridge and it will continue to ferment only much slower…
    I like having 1/2 cup with a cheese omelette with green onions and sesame seeds.
    Delicious! And inexpensive. :)

    Reply
  23. I filled my garden with cuces this year, planning to make Lacto-pickes for the first time. Thank you for the easy “how to”!

    Reply
  24. I’ve been wanting to make pickles and been thinking trying to get more fermented foods in my diet too. I’m definitely going to try this recipe. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. I love pickles, and have been wanting to try to make them myself. Your recipe provides just the inspiration I need to give it a try – thanks!

    Reply
  26. I have been thinking to start working more fermented food into my diet AND my kids love pickles, so I’m looking forward to giving this recipe a whirl, thanks.

    Reply
  27. I’ve made yogurt and sauerkraut so far. Now, I’d like to try other fermentation. These pickled veggies look good for a next step!

    Reply
  28. I make kraut all the time and love it! Have attempted kombucha but haven’t been able to make it work just yet. Pickles are on the list to try! Thanks so much for the recipe and tips!

    Reply
  29. Lacto-fermentation is a totally new concept to me and I am very interested. And canning jars with glass lids ? I’ve been looking for something like those. I am so glad I stopped by to check out your pages and read this article. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  30. I have been wanting to learn about lacto-fermentation for a long while now…this sounds way easier than I was expecting, def gonna give it a go this summer, THANKS!

    Reply
  31. I’m a school nurse and enjoy learning about healthy nutrition and sharing this information (and recipes) with others. I love pickles and will be making this recipe over the summer. I have one of the very small Weck jars, and it’s both beautiful and functional. I’d love to have a set!

    Reply
  32. I made my first pickles last year (sweet and kosher dill). They were very good, but I want to try these, too, plus some other veggies like carrots, beans, and asparagus. Love the idea of glass lids, too.

    Reply
  33. I can’t get enough pickles, the spicier the better. I really want to try Lacto Fermented Salsa this year as well. And I’m trying to convert my kitchen to all glass so these jars would be so helpful.

    Reply
  34. I made kraut, kimchee, pickled asparagus and cukes last summer and plan to try even more cultures this summer. Love the jars!

    Reply
  35. I have always loved miso soup and recently discovered how healthful it can be after a very long antibiotic regimen. I’m sooo looking forward to making these delicious pickles! Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  36. I tried cultured pickles for the first time last summer, and I’m hooked. I hoarded them, they were so good! This looks like a terrific recipe and I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  37. This has really given me a good way to start adding fermented veggies to my diet in my quest to get healthier! Thanks so much!

    Reply
  38. I love jars and don’t have any of these. Would love to try them, I use jars every day more and more. These are so beautiful!

    Reply
  39. I’m a believer in the healing power of yogurt – I like the idea of some different foods to augment the yogurt in my diet.

    Reply
  40. I love fermented vegetables!!! I can’t wait to start making my own. :-). The jars are so pretty and we homeschool, so winning the $1,000 would make a huge difference in my kids’ education.

    Reply
  41. I’ve never tried lacto-fermentation before. The tamari sounds like a great alternative to more conventional pickling brine.

    Reply
  42. What an interesting concept! I love pickles, but I’ve never thought to make them at home. Will have to try this summer.

    Reply