Ready to learn to pickle? We’ll get you started with our favourite bomb-proof pickling and lacto-fermentation methods – using whatever veggies you’ve got (in your garden OR your fridge).
Learning how to make delicious, nutritious, lacto-fermented pickles is an excellent way to increase your household’s resilience AND make your tummy very happy, both at once. And it’s dead-easy, once you know the basics.
The best bit about pickling? You don’t need and fancy equipment or ingredients – you can get started living your best pickle life with just salt, water, a jar or two, and whatever veg you’ve got in your fridge.
Pickles are a central part of our home kitchen – pickling is an incredible way to store seasonal veg, and also a great way to add extra diversity to your diet and your biome, at any time of year. And no matter where you live, there’s something near you that can be pickled, right now.
So! Here’s our recent online mini-workshop that just happened – and then below that there’s the recipes we show you, plus some of our favourite resources to get you pickling. Please ask any questions you have below, we’re super happy to help!
Here’s the video:
Firstly, thanks so much to all the folks who showed up LIVE for the above workshop – it was so lovely to have you in there with us!
Below are the recipes and some resources for you to get going with…
Basic Vinegar Pickle – Agrodolce
So here’s a very basic and delicious sweet/sour vinegar pickle that couldn’t be much easier. As said in the workshop, this recipe was gathered from our friend Olivier Sofo of Living Earth Farm, over a decade ago. It really is just vegetables, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. You can definitely do this.
You will need:
- Thinly sliced veg (try zucchini or capsicum)
- 500ml White wine vinegar
- 2 Tblsp salt
- 2 Tblsp sugar
- Spices, a bit of sliced onion, a few cloves of garlic (all optional – whatever you like)
- a clean jar with metal (or glass swingtop) lid
Take your clean jar, and add your spices to the bottom. Then, add your thinly sliced veg, and pack it down. Heat your vinegar to a minimum of 70 degrees c (you don’t need to boil it) and carefully pour over the veg in your jar. Fill to top of jar, and cap tightly. Flip the jar upside down, and leave on the bench until cool.
When cool, flip the jar back upright, label, and store in the cupboard for 2 weeks before eating. Great as a snack with cheese, or on sandwiches, or in salads, or whatever. Enjoy!
Basic Lacto-Fermented Brine Pickle
This super simple recipe is to get you started, and then once you’ve got your head around lacto-fermented brines, the sky is your limit!
Fermenting vegetables in brine is a form of lacto-fermentation – it’s similar to making sauerkraut, but even easier.
For this fermenting process, you are relying on the good yeasts and bacteria present on the skins of fresh, organic veg, and using them to ferment your veggies into probiotic powerhouses – with the aid of a simple mix of fresh water and salt: ie a brine.
Lacto-fermentation refers to the lactic acids that the yeasts and bacteria, which live on your veg + fruit, create when they ferment. These microbes, whose job it is to protect your veg from untimely moulds and pests, are the basis of many vegetable ferments that people have been making for thousands of years.
Because when these microbes are introduced to a brine, they proceed to ferment both the brine and their host vegetables into a safe, ‘pickled’ food, which contains millions more ‘good bugs’ than the vegetable in its raw form.
Plus they taste great. Crunchy salty-sour goodness. Yum.
A note on salt, and water: try and find an unadulterated salt to use for this type of recipe – sea salt is great, rock salt is fine. Check the ingredients and avoid anything with added iodine or anti-caking agents. For the water – use rain or spring water, if you can. Tap water, with its various additives, will work less well. But if that’s all you’ve got, use tap water – don’t let that stop you!
So! Let’s go. This 3% brine recipe can be used for most ‘hard’ veggies – you could try carrots, radishes, daikon, beetroot and so on. The pic above is a 3% brine with garlic scapes and asparagus – this is a seriously versatile recipe! Chop your veg into sticks, slices or however you roll. We’ll use carrots for the recipe below.
You will need:
- Fresh carrots cut into sticks (or slices, if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons of salt per 1 litre of water (which makes a roughly 3% brine – ie 30g salt to 1000g water)
- Spices that you think would go well with your veg – maybe mustard and celery seeds?
- A few vine leaves, or black currant, oak or horseradish, if you have them
- A clean jar and firm lid to make your pickle in
Chop your carrots into a shape that you like to eat – sticks, slices, sparkly stars – its up to you. Then, add a few spices (optional) to the bottom of your clean jar, and then pack in the carrots. Leave a few cm headroom at the top.
Wedge the carrots in as much as you can, and if you have some of the leaves mentioned above, push them down on top – this will help keep the carrots under the brine.
Now – make up your 3% brine. You might want to halve the salt and water above, if you’re sure you’ll only need 500ml of brine – but more is better, and the extra can always be stored in the fridge, labelled, until you make another pickle in the near future?
Add the salt and water to a bowl, and stir the salt into the water to dissolve. If your salt is in larger chunks, you might want to add a little of that water to the bowl as boiling water, dissolve the salt in that, then add the rest of the water as cold. If your brine is tepid when it goes into the jar, this isn’t a problem.
Now – pour the brine into your jar, and fill to the top. Make sure all the veg are safely underneath the brine, and not floating above it. Lid your jar loosely, and place on a plate on your kitchen bench for the next 4-7 days. The fermentation process will mean that the jar bubbles a little, expelling some of the liquid – this is fine!
Taste the carrots after day 4, and each day thereafter, until they taste good to you – they will become more sour and delicious with each day, but different people like different levels of sour – so learn what works for you.
Once your pickles taste as you like them – put them in the fridge to slow the fermentation process. They will remain taste-stable for…. ages! But do eat them in the next few months.
Looking for the recipe for those 4% ‘half-sour’ Dill pickles?
We use the recipe from Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation book for the 4% half-sour gherkins that we showed you in the video…. happily, the recipe is also online on Sandor’s website here.
For this recipe, I’m going to point you at our blog archive, rather than explain it twice!
The below recipe is the same as explained in the workshop video above – int he workshop I used red cabbage, grated carrot and grated fennel. But as the recipe below explains… you can use prettymuch whatever greens (or veg) you’ve got…
Great books + resources:
Here’s just a few of our (many) fave fermentation + pickle books – please feel free to suggest more below, so we can check out your faves also?
- Wild Fermentation – Sandor Katz – start with this one, also his website is amazing
- The Art of Fermentation – Sandor Katz – the big orange one (the book, not Sandy).
- Ferment for Good – Sharon Flynn – lots more great stuff on her website The Fermentary
- Ferment – Holly Davis – also lots of recipes on her blog
- Fermentworks – Kristen Shockey’s website has so many good things on it, and her books are all great too.
- Summer Kitchens – Olia Hercules – lots of great Ukrainian ferments in this book – also check out her website
- Wildcrafted Fermentation – Pascal Baudar – I love this book, though it might not be the best for absolute beginners – Pascal also shares his ongoing experiments generously on instagram
- And here’s an inspiring little film about a ferment-focussed Community Supported Agriculture…. this could be you and your cabbages one day, dear pickler!
Some extra resources in response to Qs during the live workshop:
- Acidity of different vinegars – as said, its a fuzzy science! A simple pH test kit would help, if you want to be accurate.
- Tropical sources of leaf tannins for crunch – green banana peel looks like a goer?
- Preserving lemons in salt – not something we covered, but oh boy do we love these. Super simple recipe.
And a few Milkwood ferment-ish recipes you may not have seen:
- Making: Apple Scrap Vinegar
- Curing Olives: Basic Brine + Salt Methods
- How to make Wild Fermented Young Country Wine (it’s easy)
- Pickled Fennel Agrodolche: Storing the Season
- Making: Wild Fermented Elderflower Soda
- Apple and Juniper Kraut + Fermented Tomato Salsa
Got any questions? Fave recipes to share? Please let us know below, we’d love to hear. Happy pickling to you.
If you’d like to know about future free workshops like this one, sign up to our fabulous, useful and very friendly newsletter – and we’ll let you know when the next one is happening.
We acknowledge that permaculture owes the roots of its theory and practice to traditional and Indigenous knowledges, from all over the world. We all stand on the shoulders of many ancestors – as we learn, and re-learn, these skills and concepts. We pay our deepest respects and give our heartfelt thanks to these knowledge-keepers, both past and present.