Lacto-Fermented Pickles with Garlic Scapes

By • June 10, 2010 • 42 Comments



Author Notes: If you aren’t familiar with it, lacto-fermentation is the act of creating a lactic-acid rich environment that enables the natural preservation of certain foods. Lacto-fermentation also makes these foods more nutritious (it increases their vitamin content) and more digestible (it fosters the growth of natural probiotics). Lacto-fermenting is also referred to as “culturing” foods. Vegetables are easily lacto-fermented/cultured by mixing them with a salt water solution and allowing them to sit in an air-tight container (a glass mason jar works well) at room temperature for several days before moving them to the refrigerator. I like simple dill pickles without additional spices, but you could add a few teaspoons of picking spices, if you like. You could also add 1 Tb. of mustard seeds (the recipe that inspired this one, from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, actually calls for this). - WinnieAbWinnieAb

Food52 Review: I've made many pickles over the years, all in search of the elusive half-sour pickle from Brauer's Deli, a memory of my childhood. My search is over -- I declare these to be the perfect deli pickle. Crunchy, briny, fresh tasting, and garlicky with a terrific herbal note from the dill. The process couldn't have been easier. And the bonus? I got to use my antique canning jars! Next time, I might add a small chile pepper to the mix. - MrsWheelbarrow
A&M

Serves 1 quart

  • 4-5 kirby or other type of pickling cucumbers
  • 5 garlic scapes
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • very clean 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar with screw-top lid (run through the dishwasher before using to ensure it is sterilized)
  1. Wash the cucumbers. Snip off the very ends and slice them lengthwise. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the garlic scapes and then cut them into pieces several inches long.
  2. Place cucumbers and garlic scapes into a 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar. Mix salt and water in a small bowl and pour into the jar. Add additional water so that the vegetables are completely covered and the liquid is about 1 inch below the top of the jar. Screw the top on the jar tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for three days.
  3. After this time, go ahead and open the jar. The liquid should be pretty fizzy, which means the lacto-fermentation was successful. If there is any type of “off smell”, discard and start again (I’m mentioning this as a caution, but also want to mention that I have been lacto-fermenting for years, and I have never had anything go wrong).
  4. Go ahead and taste a pickle. The cucumbers should have a nice garlicky tang from the scapes, and they should be pleasantly “dilly”. You can eat the pickled garlic scapes too, of course, but they are strong.
  5. Once opened, move your jar to the refrigerator for storage. Lacto-fermentation will continue in the colder temperature, but at a much slower rate, and the garlic scapes should mellow a bit over time.
Jump to Comments (42)

Tags: Easy, Healthy, Summer

Comments (42) Questions (2)

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11 months ago Better Than Mom's

Made these a week ago with little cukes from the farmers market, and substituted whole garlic cloves. I also added fresh dill, and some mustard seed, and threw in a couple grapes leaves since I have them. Let the jar sit in the basement for 3-4 days, then threw them in the frig. They are absolutely superb! I'm also going to lacto-ferment some sauerkraut and salsa! This is the best time of year with all the fresh veggies available!

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12 months ago Allan

Did my first batch of pickles with garlic and have to ask you - even though everything tastes and smells great, some of the garlic at the bottom of the jar is blue and the brine is cloudy like milk mixed with water.... Is this normal?

Fsm

12 months ago trampledbygeese

Did you use cloves or scapes? If you used cloves, could it be that they were not seasoned (aka, aged/dried/cured after harvest) fully or that they were young garlic? I have this happen more often with home grown garlic than with the store bought, but that's because I usually take it right from the soil to the kitchen without seasoning (drying) it properly.

It could be the the kind of garlic, or it could be the age of garlic, or it could be the kind of salt you used, or it could be the amount of water or kind of nutrients in the soil, or it could be that it was exposed to light at the wrong time during pickling, or it could just be for no discernible reason whatsoever. Sometimes garlic just turns blue. It looks weird, but I've never had any issues from eating blue/green garlic.

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about 1 year ago louisez

great recipe! how long do they keep once refrigerated?

Stringio

about 1 year ago Alexis Kropp-Kwon

Thanks for the advice. We used organic sea salt, but perhaps we didn't let them sit long enough. We'll try again.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Alexis Kropp-Kwon

I'm wondering if I did something wrong. These were very salty. I followed the recipie exactly.

Fsm

about 1 year ago trampledbygeese

They start salty then get sour as they ferment. Although I've had a few salty batches lately. What I've started doing is weighing the prepared veg, then using 1 tsp of salt per pound of veg. This is working much better for me, however, in warm weather I need to add 1/4 tsp more salt. Another possibility is if you use salt with iodine or other additives, this would inhibit the fermentation.

Fsm

about 1 year ago trampledbygeese

addendum, that's 1/4 tsp extra salt per pound of veg in hot weather.

Fsm

about 1 year ago trampledbygeese

Just put these up tonight. Going to try the first batch in a crock instead of a jar like I do my sauerkraut, making certain there is enough liquid to keep the veg submerged and weight everything down. It already smells amazing.

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about 2 years ago jmhjams

I love this technique and made these last week (I originally found the recipe on your Healthy Green Kitchen blog, which I love!) The pickles are now in my fridge (I used garlic bec. there were no longer scapes at my farmer's market). However, the liquid is definitely cloudy, especially toward the bottom of the jar. Is this really okay? I see someone else asked this question. They taste good, and have a little zing to them. Just checking that cloudy is really fine. This doesn't happen when I do other methods of pickling.

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about 2 years ago Sarahindia

Day 2--lid of jar is convex! Is that normal/OK? They're not going to explode on me, are they?

Winnie100

about 2 years ago WinnieAb

If there's not enough headspace in the jar, and the lactofermentation is very active, there might be too much pressure building up. I'd loosen the cap to let some air escape, and maybe take one of the cucumber slices out, so the jar is not so full.

Winnie100

about 2 years ago WinnieAb

I'd loosen the cap and remove one of the cucumber slices so the jar is not so full. If there is not enough headspace and the lactofermentation is very active, I'd be a little concerned.

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Great process!

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over 3 years ago innoabrd

Yum, this was just mentioned in a foodpickle thread. I love half-sours!

A few questions:

1) How long past the three-day mark can I leave them, unopened, at room temp before they need to be refrigerated?
2) What happens if you don't slice the cucs? I can't get kirbys here, and the only ones small enough for a jar are these skinny 'israeli' cucs. Was thinking that since they're skinny I wouldn't want to slice, but didn't know if the unbroken skin would inhibit the process?

thanks!

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almost 4 years ago marynn

Oops--forgot to add that I used garlic cloves once the scapes were gone. Guess what else pickles up mighty tasty?

Winnie100

almost 4 years ago WinnieAb

Thanks so so much for your sweet comments. I am really happy that you enjoyed them so much!

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almost 4 years ago marynn

OK, made the first batch the end of June, the second--one week later. The third? Well, you all get it. Just back from the probably last fresh Kirby cuke available Farmers' Market here in Minneapolis and the pickle jars are back sterilizing in the dishwasher. Wow, have we ever enjoyed this!

I had a stray jar or two escape detection at the back of the fridge. One month's rest adds such piquancy and sort of smooths that early pickle, slightly-effervescent zing right out.

Truly special. Thank you, WinnieAb(solutely amazing!).

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almost 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I just made my fourth batch today. Couldn't agree with you more. Scapes were no longer available here by the time the recipe was first posted, so I've also been using garlic. We are crazy about these, too!! ;o)

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about 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Just tasted my first batch - success! The liquid turned just a little cloudy but the smell and taste A-OK, did anyone else have this experience?

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, that's exactly what happened with mine. But they taste great!! I'm looking forward to making a few quarts this weekend. Have instructed the younger generation in no uncertain terms that we need to make the current batch last until the next ones are done . . . . they certainly are delicious!! Will be adding a few chilis to one or two quarts for my eldest, who specifically asked (hopefully) when sampling one last night, if I could make some that were spicy. Am thrilled to have this recipe/method. Thanks again, WinnieAb! ;o)

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about 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh good! OK this is great because my Mom can't have vinegar pickles so now she has pickles BACK in her life! Chilis are an excellent idea ... MORE PICKLES!!! Need to buy more jars ...

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

Yes, cloudy is normal and chilis sounds like a really great idea! I can't even tell you how many mason jars I keep around- I buy boxes of them all the time!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I started a jar of these about ten days ago, and today they are absolutely sensational! I haven't been able to get garlic scapes since we last saw them in the markets here about a month ago, so I used a clove of garlic, coarsely chopped and a few chives, chopped into 4 inch lengths. (That was all I had.) I hope to make a lot more pickles this summer, using this method. I'm not a huge fan of dill, or dill pickles, but I plan to buy a bunch, as well as more pickling cucumbers, when I go to the market later this week. Thank you for posting this terrific recipe!! ;o)

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

So glad you liked them so much. I have kirby cukes ready in my garden now so I'm excited to make some more myself!

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about 4 years ago Michelle McKenzie

yes please!

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

Thank you so much for testing this recipe Cathy. I love your comments, and adding a chile pepper sounds like a great idea!

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about 4 years ago lapadia

Winnie, Thanks for your recipe and the intro to Lacto-Fermentation, do you elaborate more on your website? Will definitely try this towards the end of summer when our PacNW garden is abundant with veggies!

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

I do have lots of info on my website. And a few more recipes...sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. I will be making more with my own produce at summer's end, too!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

WinnieAb, can you also pickle cauliflower this way? "Nourishing Traditions" must be some book . . .. published almost ten years ago, and there is a hold list of five for the five copies owned and all checked out in our public library system. Thanks for posting this recipe. I am definitely starting a batch this weekend! ;o)

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

AJ,
I have never done cauliflower...I make kimchi this way, though (well, basically), and have some recipes on my blog for that...I can post one here next week. NT is a great book- I think you'll really like it- I don't love all the recipes but the nutrition info is awesome. Buy one- it's a great reference.
ps. I realized I had erred in listing just one tablespoon of salt above...I added another, for a total of 2 tablespoons.

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about 4 years ago Lizthechef

Such a simple recipe, even I can make pickles now! Thanks for the tip about garlic - never even seen a garlic scape in these parts.

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about 4 years ago thirschfeld

I love lacto-frementation. I have been curious abut the Nourishing Traditions book. Are there lots of lacto-fermented recipes? I have a huge crock I use for sauerkraut that came from Poland and it just might be one of my favorite kitchen items. I like to add a horseradish leaf or a fresh grape leaf to the brine of my pickles. I always heard it helps with crispness and in the case of the horseradish a little detectable flavor that I like. Any thoughts?

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

Hi thirschfeld,
Yes there are a bunch of lactofermented recipes in NT. It's a great book. I like the idea of adding grape leaf or horseradish...did not know about that!