I’ll be honest, I’m more of a melted cheese, chocolate, and fresh bread kind of person…all the things my naturopathic doctor says for me to avoid. I mean, I’m a ketchup person – never mustard! So pickled, soured, fermented foods have not been on the top of my list for favorite foods. But I live in a house of people who love things like this fermented dill pickles recipe. And low and behold, I’m starting to get into the hang of it, and good thing too!
Fermented foods are SO incredibly good for you! Well, everything depends on how it’s made and with what. But traditionally, foods fermented with wild bacteria or yeast are excellent for your gut.
Your intestines are the powerhouse of good bacteria in your body. This is the bacteria that helps you digest properly, helps your immune system stay strong. There should be about 3 pounds of good bacteria growing in your gut (1). Wipe that out, like we do when we take antibiotics (which I’m not saying are not necessary sometimes), and our bodies are in deep trouble, which is why we take probiotics during and after any antibiotic treatment.
So when the ancients used to touch their gut, not their heart, when they referred to their feelings, there seems to be a lot more dedication than the pump in your chest 😉
What is Lacto Fermentation?
Lacto stands for lactobacillus, the name of a type of bacteria that grows on plants and in our intestines.There are different types of lactobacillus bacteria, one is the lactobacillus acidophilus that you may see on a yogurt label.
Through the fermentation process, this wonderful bacteria converts sugars into lactic acid (whether those sugars be in cucumbers, cabbage, or sourdough bread. This lactic acid makes sure no bad bacteria can grow. So your fermented foods are safe! Though we must make sure that there is enough lactic acid. Sometimes some bad bacteria can be introduces, which I will talk about below.
According to Cultures for Health, lacto fermentation also produces antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic qualities in our foods by raising the levels of certain vitamins and enzymes.
***Note*** Your pickles or sauerkraut from the store are not fermented, but are pickled in vinegar. This loses a lot of the good qualities that you would have by fermenting your foods.
So, what are we waiting for. Let’s make some Fermented Dill Pickles!
- 2-1/2 Tbsp sea salt
- 1 quart filtered water
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 sprig of dill (or 1 Tbsp dill seeds)
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 2 grape leaves (or oak or horseradish if you have them)
- Pickling cucumbers (enough to fill the jar)
- Place the salt, filtered water (it cannot have chlorine in it), cloves, dill, and pepper in jar.
- Stir until salt is dissolved.
- Add leaves and cucumbers.
- Water will overflow, but that's fine. Do it is the sink so when you are done the water is to the brim.
- Make sure no cucumbers are touching the surface of the water (place a leaf on top to help). You can place plastic wrap over the jar, touching the water to help prevent air from touching any cucumber as they shift. Or, if your jar mouth is wider, place a zip-top bag with water in it on top of the jar to weight the pickles down (you may need to tape the bag onto the jar).
- Let sit for 3-5 days on your counter top. It takes less time the hotter the weather.
- They'll start to produce bubbles. You'll know it's ready when the bubbles stop.
- Make sure your hands and jar are sterilized, otherwise you will introduce bad bacteria.
- If you get some cloudiness, that is perfectly normal. It has to do with your salt ratio.
- White film on the top means you are growing a certain kind of yeast which is fine. Skim it off. Your cucumbers are probably touching the air.
- Any pink or red or other color growing in your jar – throw the jar out. You did not have a good salt ratio and you’re growing harmful bacteria.
Linked to some of these great blogs.