Homemade Fermented Pickle Recipe

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic

I’m out of control, you guys…

Since my foray into homemade sauerkraut earlier this year, I’m now on a kick to ferment everything…

I have to admit, it helps that I’m no longer scared of the whole process, and have learned that fermented foods don’t taste gross– as long as they are done right.

My homemade fermented ketchup boosted my confidence even further, so I hunted down some pickling cucumbers at the Farmer’s Market (the ones in my garden aren’t ready yet…) and have dove head-first into the salty world of old-fashioned brined pickles.

And my oh my, I am so glad I did.

But first, in case you’re wondering about the whole brined pickles vs. fermented pickles vs. vinegar pickles thing, here’s a quick run-down:

pickling cucumbers in a colander

Three Ways to Make Pickles

  • Fermented/Brine Pickles: These are the ones we’re making today. Fermented pickles rely on good old-fashioned salt and beneficial bacteria to make things happen. The best part about a fermented pickle recipe? It’s easy to make as little (or as much) as you need, and they are packed-full of probiotic benefit.
  • Vinegar Refrigerator Pickles: These guys are also simple to make, however, they will be lacking in the probiotic department. Instead of using the fermenting process, refrigerator pickles rely on vinegar for that traditional pickle tang.
  • Traditional Canned Vinegar Pickles: I’ve made a whole lotta canned pickles in my preservation career thus far. The benefits of canned pickles is that you can put up big batches at once and they will be shelf-stable for long periods of time. The downside? The high-temps ruin any beneficial bacteria and a lot of the nutrients.

Why Use an Airlock Fermenting System?

Airlocks make the fermenting process even more fool-proof (especially for beginners) by reducing the the chance of mold, and allowing the ferment to release gases without you having to “burp” it. Can you ferment without an airlock? Sure, but to me, an airlock seems like cheap insurance for a better end result.

There are a number of air lock systems out there, but I’ve been loving the Fermentools system. It fits right onto mason jars so I don’t have to buy a bunch of special jars, and it makes it easy to make big batches (I did several 1/2 gallon jars with this pickle recipe, and it didn’t take any extra work or equipment to make it happen). I’ve been working with Matt from Fermentools for a while now and he’s been totally helpful as I’ve navigated my first adventures into fermenting.

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic

Fermented Pickle Recipe

You will need (per quart jar):

  • Small pickling cucumbers*
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 heads of fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dill seed, if you prefer)
  • Sea salt and water to make 2% brine solution (instructions below)

*It might be tempting to try to use the larger, slicing cucumbers to make pickles, but don’t. They are mostly water and will give you a mushy, limp result. Your local farmer’s market should have loads of pickling cucumbers if you can’t grow them yourself, and you’ll be glad you went to the extra trouble to find them.

How to Make 2% Brine:

Dissolve 1 tablespoon fine sea salt in 4 cups non-chlorinated water. If you don’t use all of the brine for this recipe, it will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

I always use sea salt for my brines, but kosher salt or canning salt will work too. Just avoid iodized salts.

The finer the salt, the less stirring you must to do to dissolve, which is niiiiiiice. I particularly like the ultra-fine salt from Fermentools.com, as it dissolves almost immediately (and comes with a super-handy chart on the front of the bag.)

The Pickle Recipe:

Start with very clean jars.

Add the garlic, mustard seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, and dill to each jar.

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic

Wash your cucumbers thoroughly and discard any that are mushy or soft. Remove the blossom end from each cucumber, and pack them into the jars. I prefer to leave my cucumbers whole, as it seems to give a crunchier end result.

Cover the cucumbers completely with the 2% brine solution.

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic

Add a weight to the jar to keep the cukes from floating to the top. (I use the handy glass weights from Fermentools, but you can get creative with whatever you have on hand.)

Add the air lock assembly (or regular lid if that’s what you’re using), and set aside to ferment at room temperature for 5-7 days. Keep in mind, the warmer your kitchen, the faster the fermenting process.

After the initial fermenting process is over, remove the airlock, cover with a regular lid, and store at 32-50 degrees for up to six months. (I’m keeping mine in my fridge.) The pickles will continue to slowly ferment and improve in flavor during the storage process. After about six months, they will start to slowly degrade, but will absolutely still be edible. However, I’m betting they’ll be long-gone before then.

fermented-pickles

Fermented Pickles: What’s Normal?

Your fermented pickles might look a little bit different than the home-canned pickles you’re used to. Here’s what to expect:

  • Cloudy brine, often getting cloudier as time progresses.
  • Fizziness! Fizzy pickles are totally normal and just a sign things are working as they should.
  • Liquid leaking out of the jar. Again, this is a normal process of fermentation. However, you can sometimes avoid it by making sure you don’t add too much brine to your jars.
  • Lots of bubbles = happy pickles
  • Pleasant sour taste. Fermented pickles have a slightly different tang than vinegar pickles. However, my kiddos are still gobbling them up.

If your ferments ever end up with a disgusting or putrid smell, that’s a good indication to toss them.

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic
Cloudy brine = totally normal

I Want Crunchy Pickles!

Ain’t nobody likes a mushy pickle…

It’s a problem that has plagued pickle-makers for centuries: how do you find a pickle recipe that results in perfectly crisp cukes?

I’ve experimented with this quite a bit, and have found loads of little tricks to keep pickles crisp. Here’s a short list– keep in mind you don’t have to use ALL of them– sometimes just one or two tweaks makes all the difference.

fermented-pickles-recipe

  • Use small, firm cucumbers. This is hands-down the most important! If you start with a mushy cucumber, you’ll end up with mushy pickles. Always, always select the smallest, most firm cucumbers and leave the big soft ones out of the pickle jar.
  • Jar them immediately after picking, or as soon as possible. Going straight from the vine to the jar is the best. However, I’ve still had good results using farmer’s market cukes– providing they are firm when I buy them, and I don’t leave them on the counter for days and days.
  • Soak cukes in an ice water bath for a couple hours. An icy bowl of water tends to really help firm them up.
  • Cut off the blossom end of cucumber. The blossom-end is said to contain enzymes which can cause mushy pickles. Removing it is your best bet.
  • Add tannins to the jar. This may include oak leaves, grape leaves, or black tea. Honestly? This trick is always recommended, but I’ve had hit-or-miss results with it… If you have oak leaves or grape leaves handy, it definitely can’t hurt to toss one in each jar. Or, add a 1/2 teaspoon of loose black tea to each jar.
  • Add alum, food-grade lime, or Ball’s Pickle Crisp. I don’t like adding alum to my pickles (aka aluminum), and have never gone to the trouble of finding lime or using Pickle Crisp, so I can’t say for sure if these options really work. Although you’ll find a lot of folks recommending these additives, I’d rather just stick to the other ideas on this list.

homemade fermented pickle recipe with dill and garlic

Fermented Pickle Notes:

  • Want to keep things super simple? You can ditch everything in this recipe but the cucumbers and brine. Seriously! That’s the best thing about pickles– tailor them to your taste preferences and what spices you have on hand.
  • My Fermentools airlocks makes it super easy to make larger batches of pickles– especially in my half-gallon jars. However, if you only have a handful of cukes, you can still jar them up to ferment in small batches.
  • Can I use whey in my ferments? Yes, some folks use raw whey in their fermented vegetable recipes to jump-start the fermenting process. However, I haven’t found whey to be necessary, and I like the flavor a simple salt brine brings to a recipe.

Where to Buy Fermenting Stuff?

I’ve been totally impressed with my Fermentools equipment. Here’s why:

  • The airlocks work with the jars I already have.
  • You can easily make big batches of fermented foods with little hassle (no lugging around heavy crocks, either)
  • Their glass weights are super nice to just pop into my mason jars so the food doesn’t float out of the brine and get gross.
  • There’s a super-handy chart on the front of their ultra-fine powdered salt bags to help you figure out exactly how much you need for the perfect brine

Shop the online store at Fermentools HERE.

fermentoolslogo

This post is sponsored by Fermentools, which means they sent me one of their air lock systems so I could try it out. However, like everything I promote here on The Prairie Homestead, I don’t promote it unless I’m actually using it and loving it, which is absolutely the case here.

How to Freeze Green Beans

how to freeze green beans without blanching

Here I go again, breaking the rules…

First it was canning peaches with honey, and then my no-sugar canned pears, and now I’m becoming a green bean rebel.

You see, I have an extreme aversion to two things when it comes to food preservation:

  • Super intricate methods with seemingly unnecessary steps (Ain’t nobody got time for that when you have 15 bazillion bushels of food to put up…)
  • Used boatloads of sugar to preserve fresh produce

Now you do have to be a little bit careful when you’re preserving food– sometimes you just *can’t* be a rebel with certain things if it impacts the safety of the recipe. However, with the peaches and pears I listed above, the recipe is still completely safe, even with the edits.

So next up on my food-preservation-rebellion list?

Green beans.

First, let’s chat real quick about freezing vs. canning.

how to freeze green beans without blanching

Canning Green Beans vs. Freezing Green Beans

This one is totally your personal preference. Some folks prefer the taste and texture of canned beans, while others prefer frozen ones.

Personally? I prefer frozen green beans as I think they have a fresher taste, and less nutrient loss. Plus I don’t have to heat up my kitchen to make it happen. But if you really like canning green beans instead, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you decide to freeze, then there’s the issue of blanching… And that’s where my rebellious streak comes out.

Should I Blanch Green Beans?

When you freeze green beans, it’s always been recommended that you blanch them first. For those who aren’t familiar with blanching, it’s a common practice in food preservation that involves boiling the food for several minutes, and then plunging into ice water.

The thought is that blanching stops the enzyme action which can result in loss of flavor and color.

The problem? It’s an extra step. And I don’t like extra steps. And if you have a big bunch of green beans to freeze, you have to blanch in fairly small quantities, which takes time.

So last year I did the unthinkable: I froze all my green beans without blanching. Scandalous, I know…

But guess what? They’ve been in my freezer for almost a year now, and they still taste good. And there’s no obvious flavor or color loss that I can see. So that was enough to make me skip blanching for good. Here’s how I do it:

how to freeze green beans without blanching

How to Freeze Green Beans without blanching

You will need:

  • Fresh green beans
  • Freezer baggies

In  my opinion, the most important part of this process is starting off with good beans. Older, tougher beans just don’t freeze well. You know the ones– they feel kinda woody and hollow when you try to snap them. Skip freezing those guys, and only select the freshest, most tender green beans for your freezer.

Snap off the ends, and break the beans into halves or thirds, if you like. (I usually just leave them long, though).

Wash and drain thoroughly.

Spread the green beans on a baking sheet in a single layer, and flash freeze for 30-60 minutes. Remove them from the tray, place in a freezer baggie, label, and place back into the freezer.

When you’re ready to eat them, boil until tender, season, and that’s it. Fresh-from-the-garden-flavor in the dead of winter (or anytime).

how to freeze green beans without blanching

So that’s how to freeze green beans using the cheater-method. But for those of you who are still blanching enthusiasts, no worries– I have instructions for you, too.

How to Freeze Green Beans (blanching method)

You will need:

  • Fresh green beans
  • Freezer baggies
  • Boiling water
  • Ice-cold water

Just like before, select the freshest, most tender beans. Snap off the ends, and snap into halves/thirds, if desired.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, and lower the beans into the pot. The key here is to not overload the pot. If you add too many beans to the pot at once, it’ll take too long for the water to come up to a boil. Blanch small quantities at a time so the water returns to a boil within a minute or so of you placing the beans in the pot.

Once the water returns to a boil, set the timer for three minutes.

After three minutes, remove the beans and plunge them into ice water for another 3 minutes.

Then remove from the ice water, drain very thoroughly, and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze 30-60 minutes, then place into freezer bags.

If you’d rather freeze in freezer containers, or skip the flash-freezing process, that’s OK too. However, if you skip those steps, there’s a chance you’ll end up with a big chunk of rock-hard frozen green beans that can be hard to separate if you just need a small amount later.

how to freeze green beans without blanching

Other Food Preservation Posts You’ll Love:

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe

blueberry cheesecake ice cream recipe

Food is my love language.

Clean laundry is my husband’s love language.

So yeah, there’s a bit of tension there.

I hate everything about laundry. I hate washing it, I hate putting it into the dryer, I hate folding it, I hate putting it away. And I despise ironing with every fiber of my being.

Did you know some people actually iron their sheets? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t be friends with someone who irons sheets. I’d rather be canning in a 110 degree kitchen, or digging a million post holes by hand, or getting whacked in the face with my cow’s tail a dozen times.

Our Extreme Farmhouse Remodel project is rolling right along...
Our Extreme Farmhouse Remodel project is rolling right along…

So even though I outwardly attributed my impulsive creation of this blueberry cheesecake ice cream recipe to wanting to reward my husband for all the hard work he’s been doing on our house remodel lately; deep down inside I knew what he truly wanted was clean socks… And that I was really making the ice cream for my own selfish benefit. But hey, who can blame me?

There’s blueberry ice cream, and then there’s this Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. It’s so good it deserves to be capitalized. It’s a whole different animal than your typical blueberry ice cream– it’s creamier, and richer, and you’ll want to eat it by the pound. You’re welcome.

blueberry cheesecake ice cream recipe

(And I’m just kidding about not being friends with people who iron their sheets. Sort of.)

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe

(this post contains affiliate links)

fresh blueberries in colander

In a small saucepan, mash together the sugar and 1 cup of blueberries.

Cook the sugar/blueberry mixture over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes and allow them to simmer and thicken. Cool slightly.

In a blender, combine the cooled mixture, the remaining fresh blueberries, buttermilk, cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Blend until mixed completely.

Stir in the cream/half n’ half and allow to chill for one hour.

Freeze in a 2-quart ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

(This is the ice cream maker I have and LOVE)

Serve immediately, or place in freezer for a while to harden it up a bit, if you prefer harder ice cream.

Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, if desired.

Makes approximately 1.5 quarts.

blueberry cheesecake ice cream recipe

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe Notes

  • Regular granulated sugar will work here, too, if that’s all you have.
  • If you don’t have lemon zest handy (I rarely do), you can substitute two drops of high-quality lemon essential oil instead. These are the essential oils I use— they are considered “food-grade.”
  • I cooked half of the berries to add a greater depth of flavor to the finished recipe. However, if you’re in a hurry, just skipping the cooking and chilling and use all raw berries instead.
  • The large amount vanilla extract in this recipe actually helps the ice cream from becoming crazy hard when you refreeze it. Actually, any alcohol will have that effect, and since homemade vanilla extract is made with vodka, it fits the bill just fine. However, if you want to omit it, that’s fine too.
  • You can serve this with crumbled graham crackers, or add some graham cracker crumbs into the ice cream maker in the last 1-2 minutes of mixing. Or put it between two crackers for an ice cream sandwich. I made my own graham crackers using this recipe.
  • Wanna get wild and crazy? Spoon your blueberry cheesecake ice cream into a graham cracker pie shell and chill until hardened for an ice cream pie.
  • If you’re looking for a basic homemade ice cream recipe, here’s my Simple No-Cook Vanilla Ice Cream, and also my Homemade Frozen Yogurt Recipe. Or heck, if you’re reading this during the wintertime, try Snow Ice Cream.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1.5 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided (frozen will work in a pinch, if you must)
  • ¾ cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half n half
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, mash together the sugar and 1 cup of blueberries with 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Cook the sugar/blueberry mixture over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes and allow them to simmer and thicken. Cool slightly.
  3. In a blender, combine the cooled mixture, the remaining fresh blueberries, buttermilk, cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Blend until mixed completely.
  4. Stir in the cream/half n' half and allow to chill for one hour.
  5. Freeze in a 2-quart ice cream maker according to manufacturer's recommendations.
  6. Serve immediately, or place in freezer for a while to harden it up a bit, if you prefer harder ice cream.
  7. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, if desired.

blueberry cheesecake ice cream recipe

How to Make Sour Cream

how to make sour cream

I can sum up the reason I have a milk cow in one word:

CREAM.

Ok, so there are more reasons than that, I suppose. But cream has a lot to do with it. Fresh cream sitting on the top of a gallon of raw milk is a beautiful thing, my friends.

And there’s so much stuff you can do with it. Homemade butter, homemade cream cheese, whipped cream frosting, swirling it into your coffee. Good grief, how could someone NOT love cream?

If you use as much sour cream as we do (I put it on pretty much everything…), you’ll be happy to know it’s pretty darn easy to make. It’s very similar to learning how to make buttermilk, but you use cream instead of milk, and a slightly different starter culture. Here’s how to make sour cream at home:

how to make sour cream

(this post contains affiliate links)

How to Make Sour Cream

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • One of the following starter cultures:
    • 1 packet direct-set sour cream culture (where to buy)
    • OR 1/8th teaspoon mesophilic starter culture (where to buy)
    • OR 1 cup sour cream with live, active cultures*

*If using 1 cup of sour cream as your starter, reduce the amount of heavy cream to 3 cups.

Gently heat the cream to 86 degrees Farenheit. Stir the starter culture into the warm cream.

Cover it loosely with a towel and rubber band, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, or until it is thickened and tangy.

If you like, you can now turn your sour cream into cultured butter, or just drizzle it (or plop it–depending on the consistency) on your favorite dishes.

how to make sour cream

You can use your homemade sour cream as a starter to make future batches as well. However, after a while, it seems to “wear out” and you’ll want to begin with a fresh starter.

Homemade Sour Cream Notes:

  • I use our raw cream, but pasteurized cream will work too–just avoid UHT cream if you can.
  • If you are using raw cream, your end result might be a bit less thick than the sour cream from the store. But it’s still delicious and definitely usable.
  • If you have access to raw cream, making sour cream can be as easy as letting raw cream sit out on the counter and sour. (Keep in mind this doesn’t work with pasteurized cream, though. If you leave pasteurized cream out, it just gets gross, since all the beneficial bacteria is gone.)
  • However, I prefer the flavor of sour cream that has been inoculated with a bit of starter culture. It allows me to have more control over the flavor.
  • Wondering how the heck to separate the cream from your fresh milk. I’ll show ya how here.

How to Make Sour Cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Home Dairy
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • One of the following starter cultures:
  • 1 packet direct-set sour cream culture
  • OR ⅛th teaspoon mesophilic starter culture
  • OR 1 cup sour cream with live, active cultures*
  • *If using 1 cup of sour cream as your starter, reduce the amount of heavy cream to 3 cups.
Instructions
  1. Gently heat the cream to 86 degrees Farenheit. Stir the starter culture into the warm cream.
  2. Cover it loosely with a towel and rubber band, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, or until it is thickened and tangy.
  3. If you like, you can now turn your sour cream into cultured butter, or just drizzle it (or plop it--depending on the consistency) on your favorite dishes.

 

how to make sour cream