DIY / Tutorials Garden Recipes

Dill Pickles ~ How to Make Fermented Crock Dill Pickles

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.

Washing Garden Pickle Cucumbers for Crock Dill Pickles with Recipe 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.  Not only is our gut is our second brain, and eating fermented foods nourishes it to the full, but we are also creating an awesome mini-system that fuels our bodies giving it what it needs to battle diseases and toxins.  Check out Mother Earth News (Aug.-Sept. 2013) for an excellent article. (see below for more resources)

Mother Earth News Issue 2013 | #prodigalpiecesMy family is not what you would call your average grocery consumer.  However, 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.

Likewise, 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 dill 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 #recipe #food #diet

*post contains affiliate links so you can find the products I love to use too. (see full disclosure)

You’ll need: (this is for a 1 gallon recipe. I use a 10 gallon crock…I have a family of 8 and we like to eat them all year)10 Gallon Crock for How to Make Fermented Crock Dill Pickles by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces

  1. 1 gallon 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, 3Fresh Garden Dill for Homemade Fermented Dill Pickles by Prodigal Pieces |, 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


First, 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.
Crock full of pickles for home fermentation by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpiecesNext, dissolve the sea salt in half a gallon of water and pour it into the crock.

Adding Water to 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.

Using Stone Weight for Crock Dill Pickles by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces

Last, place a towel over top for a tent to keep the pesky flies and gnats out.

Batch of Crock Dill Pickles with Recipe by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces

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

Fermentation Happening in Crock Dill Pickles with Recipe by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces Skipping Foam off of Crock Dill Pickles with Recipe by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpiecesDo the same the next day, and so on. In conclusion, after about a week, grab a pickle and give it a taste. In addition, 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:

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In addition, more recipes like my fermented dill pickles:

You can have your muffin and eat it too. Delicious grain-free muffin recipe from Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comFresh or Fermented Garden Salsa with Probiotics by Prodigal Pieces |

89 replies on “Dill Pickles ~ How to Make Fermented Crock Dill Pickles”

I have had a batch on for 6 days and the husband forgot to skim the scum off while I was away this week. Has this ruined the pickles? Will they still be safe to eat?

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.

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?

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)

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,

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! 🙂

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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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?

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

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. 😀

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!

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!

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?

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! 🙂

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

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

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

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!

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. 🙂

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

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. 🙂

Hi, I tried your recipe but made mine in food-safe plastic buckets. I was very disappointed…the cukes were bloated, mushy, and hollowed-out. I followed the recipe exactly, I used spring water, sea salt, and lots of garlic, as per your instructions. Was it the food-safe plastic? I have since obtained a crock and may try another batch, if I can regain my nerve. Thank you in advance for your answer.

Donna, there are a lot of variables that could be the issue. Were they kept in a cool, dark place? It sounds like they fermented too quickly. I have only used the crock, but others I know have used the plastic, so I’m not exactly sure. I wouldn’t be afraid to try again, as that is how we learn. Be sure to take one out every now and then to test it and see. I wish you much success!

Perhaps they did ferment too quickly. It was extremely hot here. Maybe I’ll take my crock downstairs to my cooler basement and try again with this recipe. Thank you.

This recipe is great! We just tried our pickles and they are delicious! Thanks for the great pictures that showed the mold and how to skim it.

Which is better for covering the crock of fermenting pickles, the crock’s lid (Ohio Stoneware), or a towel? First timer and very excited about this process.
Thanks for your help

Hi Larissa,
I have been making fermented pickles for several years and love their taste. I make five gallon batches because a lot of my friends like them too. I use grape leaves from my neighbors grape vines and sometimes I even use horseradish leaves. I have never really know how to store them in the refrigerator but after reading your article, I got a better education on the matter. I do have a question for you. Your recipe is for a gallon. If I wanted to make five gallons, do I just multiply the ingredients by 5 or it there something else that I should be aware of? Thank you very much for your article and have a great day.

Hi Larissa,
I forgot one question in the previous post. Do you trim off the end of the cucumber that had the flower on it?
Thank you.

Success! I tried this recipe again with my stone crock, which I put in my cool basement. I had good-tasting pickles in eight days. Thanks so much.

This is so exciting! Thank you for the recipe and advice. I put my pickles in the crock last night and now am just waiting for the magic. I made 10lbs of them! I am not sure how much we can eat each month. Can you tell me how long they will be edible once I put them in the refrigerator? I plan to put them in jars in the brine. We’ll always have a jar to eat from, but how long do the keep? Have you ever done a canning process once they’ve fermented? I hesitate to mess with the good bacteria, flavor and crunch. I just wasn’t sure how long they are edible when kept in the fridge.

My pleasure, Heide. Sounds like you have some yummy goodness on the way! 😀 They can last for up 6 months up to a year if stored in their brine in a refrigerator. If you can them it will destroy any benefits you spent time creating. Hope that helps! 😀

I’m trying this method for the first time in 50 years… I don’t have a space cooler that 80 degrees & am concerned with the “safety factor” / spoiliage.. I’ve always make pickles w/ vinegar .. they smell ok theve been in the crock for abt 1 1/2 wk and still hard with only a little of the rim turning pickled color.. do I need to worry abt getting sick eating them ?

Hi Larissa, did 31 pounds of small cukes in two crocks. They turned out great and going to put them in jars today. Thanks so much for your recipe. They are so yummy.

I tried this recipe. Today(8/18/18)is 3 weeks in with a crock of pickles. I skimmed off the top every day, and after a week they were crunchy and tasted just like Classen dill pickles. But 3 weeks in they have aquired a taste, kind of a sharp taste, not that enjoyable. Should I have taken them out after a week and put them in jars and in the fridge? I was worried that they would not be “cured” and would make me sick.

I don’t have access to grape, cherry, oak or maple leaves, but I have a massive amount of Rhubarb leaves, sunflower leaves, cucumber leaves, and leaves from poplar trees…. Can you tell me if any of those would be safe to use when making these fermented pickles? (First time fermenter 🙂 )

Hi, I have m8ine on day 3 of fermentation, just a little foam, but am starting to smell a faint dill pickle smell when I am near it. have added a chopped sweet red pepper, garlic and small onions as well as the dill never heard of leaves but was wandering if wild graape leaves would do as where we live hard maple and oak are more scarce. I am intending to do a crocl of fermented cabbage, and one of mixed pickle would it be the same?? how about a handful of pickling spiced and a bit of brown sugar for flavour?

The wild grape should work. Yes, it would be the same. We do mixed veggies for my kids and they love it. I don’t think the spice would hurt, but skip the sugar as it kinda defeats the probiotic benefits you’re after. 😉

Hmmm…well, it sounds like you will just need to make note as to how much salt you added and cut back next time. It took me a couple of ferments before I got it to where I liked it.

Hi, I make Sauerkraut and have the special crocks with the lids and water trough air locks. That way way no mold problem. I will try and make a batch of pickles and let you know of the outcome.

I remember my mother making crock pickles using about one inch cubes of zucchini and they were delicious. Do you think cubed zucchini could be substituted for cucumbers in this recipe?

My pickles are about 2 weeks in and they are tasting great. Plan on giving some more time in the crock. before I put them in the jars do I want to rinse or whip any mold off? If I get some mold in the brine that I put in the jars is that OK? If I do not have enough brine can I just make more.

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