Dill Pickled Cucumbers- Home Fermentation for Beginners

The word has a magic about it. Ask any traditional baker, brewer or cheesemaker and prepare to listen all day. Simple foodstuffs are transformed. Goodness is preserved.

Dill pickled cucumbers

Healthy humans have 100,000,000,000,000 bacteria in our intestines. Altogether they weigh 1.5 Kg and they work non-stop looking after our digestion,  the absorbtion of nutrients from our food, protecting us from infection and strengthening our immunity. They even have an effect on our mood!

‘Probiotics’ is a word we’re all accustomed to as it’s printed on the packaging of live yogurt. ‘Psychobiotics’  is an even newer concept. It’s the name given to friendly bacteria whose presence in the gut increases the level of ‘happy hormones’ in some parts of the brain. How this works is still being studied, but it’s only a matter of time and rigorous clinical trials before doctors will be prescribing specific probiotics for particular conditions to do with the digestion and the emotions!

So why wait to become ill? We can boost our own ‘microbiota’ or ‘microbiome’ by increasing our consumption of traditionally fermented food.

‘Where do I get some of that?’ you may ask.

I remember my Grandad coming in from the farm, going straight into the dairy, taking a jug of buttermilk from a churn and downing it in one long gulp. His sigh of satisfaction will always stay with me- and he lived in good health to the age of 95 years. This would have been common in farms with a dairy herd up to fifty years ago, but not any more.

Living in suburban Dublin, we use live yogurt (lots of it if someone has had a routine course of antibiotics, as they kill the good bacteria along with the bad) and we buy artisan cheeses. Real sourdough bread is another fermented food on the table, and we also buy traditonally fermented craft beer.

Since summer is upon us with its bounty of vegetables, I decided to pickle some cucumbers and found a recipe  on David Leibowitz’ website- Arthur Schwarz’s Homemade Kosher Dill Pickle Recipe

  • It couldn’t be easier…
  • dissolve salt in water  to make brine
  • top and tail cucumbers
  • slice into wedges (my choice….they could have been left whole)
  • Place in a jar with crushed garlic, pickling spice, bay leaves and dill weed.
  • Wait

Over the next few days, these will ferment in the sunshine and when they taste right, they’ll be moved to the fridge. All we need then is some sunshine for a picnic or barbeque.

Jars of home-made cucumber dill pickles

If you decide to increase your intake of fermented foods, take time to observe how your digestion behaves and how you’re feeling.  After all, your internal carers and housekeepers need minding .

If they’re happy, there’s a good chance you’ll be happier too.


About haysparks

Viewing the world, the human condition, our history, evolution and health through the prism of food.
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2 Responses to Dill Pickled Cucumbers- Home Fermentation for Beginners

  1. MandyM says:

    These look great. I prefer a “sour” pickle, which I’ve found not easy to find in Ireland, the only pickles seem to be the sweet kind, not my first choice for a pickle. I think I’ll give these a go, especially seeing as Summer seems to have finally arrived, late, but at least it’s here. For how long, I don’t know, but I’ll make pickles while the sun shines 😀

    Thanks for pointing to this recipe!

    • haysparks says:

      Hi Mandy,
      I’m afraid I can’t guide you on that as I’m new to pickling myself. However there’s a very strong tradition of it in eastern Europe and I know Vlad of Arún Bakery does some pickling at home in Dublin, in the tradition of his home in Prague. I wonder if Magda of Magda’s Cauldron would have any answers for you? this is the time to find out as autumn bounty comes rolling in.

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