How to Make Fermented Crock Dill Pickles

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Summer offers garden goodness and one of my all-time favorites are pickles.  If you eat the typical store-bought canned dill pickles or any canned pickle for that matter, you are completely missing out in more ways than one!

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

Fermented, or cultured foods, are an integral part to the human diet, and most do not understand how our bodies need them.  Our gut is our second brain, and eating fermented foods nourishes it to the full, creating an awesome mini-system that fuels our bodies giving it what it needs to battle diseases and toxins.  Check out the latest Mother Earth News (Aug.-Sept. 2013) for an excellent article. (see below for more resources)

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpiecesMy family is not what you would call your average grocery consumer.  We are whole food, real food, get-it-while-its-fresh food eaters making the most of every bite.  Now, I will say that we deviate from time to time, but for the most part, we avoid processed foods.

We make our own ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, cortido (Latin sauerkraut), yogurt, buttermilk, crème fraiche, salsa, kefir….all fermented. 

So, of course, we ferment our pickles, like the olden days…in crock, with a salt-water brine, just bubbling with goodness.  My kids salivate just waiting for them to be done.  What better healthy snack can I provide for them than a crisp, juicy, full-of-fermentation goodness dill pickle?

Want to make your own?  Here’s how.

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

You’ll need: (this is for a 1 gallon recipe. I use a 10 gallon crock…I have a family of 7 and we like to eat them all year!)How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

  1. ceramic crock or food-grade bucket, cleaned
  2. plate to fit inside crock or bucket, cleaned
  3. 6T. sea salt (3/8c.)
  4. 3-4 fresh dill flowering heads (you can use dried, 3How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces-4t., but fresh is best)
  5. handful of oak, grape, or cherry leaves (Yes, leaves.  They make the pickles crisp!)
  6. 2-3 heads of garlic, not cloves, peeled
  7. a pinch of peppercorns
  8. 3-4lbs. unwaxed cucumbers (small pickle size)
  9. Large rock or weight, cleaned

Wash the pickles, and remove any blossoms being careful not to bruise them.  If you can’t get fresh ones, just soak the ones you have in some ice-cold water to freshen them up.  Then, place them in the crock along with the dill, leaves, garlic, and peppercorns.

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill Pickles by Prodigal Pieces #prodiglapiecesDissolve the sea salt in half a gallon of water and pour it into the crock.

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpiecesNow, the pickles will float and you want them submerged.  Here’s where the plate comes in.  Turn your plate upside down and push the pickles under the brine, making sure to catch them all.  Place your large (clean) rock on top of the plate to keep the pickles submerged.

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

Place a towel over top for a tent to keep the pesky flies and gnats out.

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

You’ll need to check the pickles daily to see if there is any mold on the surface.  Don’t panic, just skim it off and wash the plate and rock (or weight) and replace them – mold is good.  

How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces How to Make Fermented Crock Dill PIckles by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpiecesDo the same the next day, and so on.  After about a week, grab a pickle and give it a taste.  You can stop the fermenting whenever you like the flavor.  My 10 gallon crock takes around 4 weeks to get it where I like it.  A one gallon crock takes anywhere from 1-4 weeks.

Once you think they’ve pickled to your liking, just store them in a refrigerator for months!  How easy was that?!

Any questions?  Please feel free to ask!

additional resources:

~ DISCLOSURE: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that I might make a few cents if you purchase an item I have recommended. Your price will still be the same, but the seller might pay me a tiny percentage.
If you liked this recipe, then you’ll also enjoy this recipe.
Grain Free Spice Cookies by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

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  • Anonymous

    It normal for the brine to be cloudy correct?

    August 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Yep, it will be cloudy and perfect to eat. :o)

      August 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    How long does it take for the scum to form?

    August 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hi Pam! Depending on the room temp. it should take about 2 days and then you will need to skim it off every day. :o)

      August 12, 2013 at 12:54 am Reply
  • Becky Kranz

    After the pickles are fully fermented to taste you can take them out of the crock and put them in gallon jars in the refrigerator? I will want to use the crock for other foods! Thanks.

    August 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm Reply
  • Larissa

    Absolutely! I get about 7-8 gallon out of my 10 gallon crock, so I put them in gallon containers and put them in our extra refrigerator for the whole year – if they last! You actually have to take them out because they will continue to ferment to the point of rotting. They will still ferment in the refrigerator, but it will be drastically slowed down.

    August 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm Reply
  • Matthew

    I am curious if there is a certain time frame in days or weeks when one can say the pickle is fully fermented? I have read in some articles that partially fermenting them can leave one open to the possibility of some pathogens (listeria seems to one mentioned most). The pickles have to be “fully fermented.”

    What would you think would be a minimum time for a safe, full fermentation (with 70-76 degree ambient temperature). At least a week?

    September 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm Reply
    • Larissa Haynes

      In my research, it is suggested 1-4 weeks and that the temperature and setting be in a cool, dark location. You can read more on it in “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz (I do no back his lifestyle), or in “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. I have some suggested links posted above. Yes, I would agree that at least a week or more, depending on temp. would be best. Hope this helps! :o)

      September 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm Reply
    • Matthew

      Thank you very much for the response (and the whole post!)

      September 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm Reply
  • Christine Freeman

    I love pickles, so thank you SO much for this recipe! Not a single, store-bought “dill” pickle actually contains dill, if you read the labels.
    I also noticed in your intro here, that you make kefir! Would you be so kind as to share how? I LOVE that stuff. It’s not so easy to find around here.
    Thank you,

    September 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply
  • Emily Truax

    Hey there, This article and its really awesome! Where did you find a 10 gallon crock? Can I use a food grade bucket instead, do you know?


    PS. Great to see an awesome Christ-loving mama taking care of her family! Keep it up! 🙂

    December 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm Reply
  • Gretchen

    I have a few questions for you. Do you wash the leaves? Do you dissolve the salt in hot water and if so do you wait until the water is cold before adding it to the crock? When fermentation is completed do you transfer the brine with the pickles to the fridge? Thank you for your help.

    August 16, 2015 at 3:32 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, I wash the leaves and let the water cool to room temperature. You don’t want to cook the pickles, and guess I should add that in my post. I do use the same brine to store them in a refrigerator for long term. The fermentation continues, but is much slower. Thanks for the questions!

      August 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I have fond memories of my mother making dill pickles and I finally brought her large crock home and want to try them this year. I do not remember her using leaves! Do you just pick the leaves from a tree, wash them and place them in the crock?? I have a large oak tree in my back yard that was a gift from friends in memory of my mom when she passed away. I also remember her placing fresh dill in the bottom and then layering some dill in between.

    September 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Leaves help the pickles stay crisp. Yes, just wash and rinse and add right to the brine. Have fun with it and make new memories!

      September 10, 2015 at 9:15 pm Reply
      • Lisa

        No vinegar, correct? And should I boil the water and let it cool, or just use cold water?

        September 12, 2015 at 4:21 pm Reply
        • Larissa

          Yes, no vingar. Dissolve the salt in room temp water, heat if needed, but then let it cool back to room temp. Have fun!

          September 14, 2015 at 11:43 am Reply
  • Debbie

    When my pickles are done fermenting in the crock and I transfer them into jars do I boil the brine to rid it of its cloudiness? The pickles look like their sitting in murky water. How do I get rid of that? I want the water to be clear like in the store bought jars, correct?

    September 19, 2015 at 12:36 am Reply
    • Larissa

      You’ll want to keep it, Debbie. That’s all your awesome probiotics working their goodness. Store bought pickles are canned, no life in them at all and sitting in vinegar. 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions.

      September 19, 2015 at 8:22 am Reply
      • Crissy

        Sorry I just want to clarify, so after you reach the desired fermentation, you remove the pickles and place them in your sterilized jars. Then boil the brine before you pour it back into the packed jars? Or just pour the cold unprocessed brine into the packed jars?

        August 22, 2016 at 2:24 am Reply
        • Larissa

          No boiling as that will kill the beneficial bacteria, just pour the cold brine in and store. 🙂

          August 22, 2016 at 5:31 am Reply
  • John

    I read somewhere about putting plastic wrap on top of jar before the metal lid is that true just got my first crock can’t wait to try it I’m already thinking about getting another one

    July 8, 2016 at 8:17 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, I do that for long term storage if the lid is metal. I also buy the plastic Ball jar lids that make it a bit easier. Sounds like you’re ready to roll! It is addictive. 😀

      July 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm Reply
  • Jamie

    These will be my first crock recipe! I have slicing cucumbers though, can I cut them and still follow the recipe as is? And can I add some apple cider vinegar to the jars right before storing in refrigerator for extra flavor? And do you want to keep a leaf in each jar too or only while fermenting? Thank you!

    August 17, 2016 at 11:22 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Yay for you! Cutting is fine though will ferment faster. No vinegar as it will kill the probiotics. There will be plenty of flavor. 🙂 Leaves can be kept in. Hope this helps and you have fun!

      August 17, 2016 at 7:47 pm Reply
  • Steve

    My pickles have what looks like mold on them. I washed it off & the pickles are amazing. Should I leave the white stuff on the pickles?

    August 24, 2016 at 11:34 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, if it’s sort of frothy that’s totally a part of the fermentation. It may have gone a little too long, but should be fine. Enjoy!

      August 25, 2016 at 6:29 am Reply
      • Ben

        When will I stop skimming the top if I put them in jars when I’m done will scum still form on top?

        August 12, 2017 at 12:17 am Reply
        • Larissa

          It will slow down when you refrigerate them. It doesn’t hurt anything to have it.

          August 12, 2017 at 8:28 am Reply
  • Tom

    What type of grape leaves do you suggest? I’m told some grape leaves are toxic. Do you use canned leaves or fresh off the vine? How many leaves per gallon?

    May 16, 2017 at 3:06 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Good question. I have not hear that some were toxic. Maybe research the leaf you’re hoping to use before adding it or just use oak. I use fresh and about a handful per gallon. Hope that helps! 🙂

      May 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm Reply
  • Diane L Hunt

    I remember my Mom doing the pickles in the crock but we would eat them right from the crock.Guess she canned them at one point really don’t remember that part.I have her crock and will try your recipe.I cann lots of pickles with vinegar so this will be a fun thing to try.Thanks

    August 2, 2017 at 10:08 am Reply
    • Larissa

      They are so yummy straight out of the crock. What fun memories! Hope you enjoy.

      August 4, 2017 at 6:00 am Reply
  • Dianne

    Hi Larissa, I put my pickles in a bucket on the 2nd of August as of today the 6th I see no foaming yet. Should I be concerned? I followed your receipes but added crushed red pepper flakes.
    Thanks Dianne

    August 6, 2017 at 11:25 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Hi Dianne. 🙂 No need to worry. You may not get much if any. Keep on fermenting on. 😉

      August 6, 2017 at 9:14 pm Reply
  • Alice Downing

    Hi Larissa, your web site is beautiful. LOVE living off the land. I am immune suppressed and am wondering how to tell if the pickles have spoiled? I am wanting to try this recipe.Do you know anything about making Perpetual pickles, where you have a brine in the crock and keep adding fresh veggies as you have them? I have a smallish crop of pickling cukes..thanks, Alice

    August 10, 2017 at 2:31 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Alice. The ways I know they are spoiled are by smell (kinda off scent, as you can imagine) and if they are squishy soft. I haven’t really had any spoil in my batches, but let some go to test it. Yes, you can keep reusing the brine for a time as that’s what we do for not only our cukes, but our veggies. You can even use it to start a new culture quicker. Enjoy!

      August 10, 2017 at 6:36 am Reply
  • Jacci

    Do you use tap water or distilled?

    August 10, 2017 at 6:39 am Reply
    • Larissa

      I have used tap, but boil it for a bit to remove some of the chemicals. Distilled work too, but I prefer spring water from our local spring, which I know is hard to find. 🙂

      August 10, 2017 at 6:45 am Reply
  • Bob

    Do you cover the pickle containers after putting in fridge or leave uncovered?

    August 10, 2017 at 4:54 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      I cover them. 🙂

      August 10, 2017 at 10:03 pm Reply
  • Kendra

    Can I slice the pickles? I have a wide variety of sizes from the garden. Thanks for the recipe!

    August 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, you sure can. Though keep in mind they will ferment much faster.

      August 15, 2017 at 7:39 pm Reply
  • Linda B Wilkinson

    I followed a recipe similar to yours water vinegar garlic salt dill alum they were in the crock for about 2 weeks before they started to ferment how long do they ferment when can I transfer to the refrigerator,how long can they stay in the ref.
    Thank You

    August 17, 2017 at 8:50 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      If you’re using the other recipe, I surely don’t know. This one takes a couple of weeks and can stay in the refrigerator for 6 months or more as I stated above. 🙂

      August 18, 2017 at 11:26 am Reply

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