Dill Pickles Fermented

This method of making dill pickles may sound long and involved, but many people like the tangy flavour that results from fermentation.


  • 4 lb (1.8 kg) 4 inch (10 cm) pickling cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) dill seed
  • OR
  • 4 to 5 fresh dill heads
  • 2 cloves garlic, optional
  • 2 dried chili peppers, optional
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) pickling spice, optional
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pickling salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) vinegar
  • 8 cups (2000 ml) water


  • Soak, scrub and rinse cucumbers. Cut 1/8 inch (3 mm) slice off blossom end (opposite stem end) and discard. Leave 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) stem attached, if desired.
  • Place half of dill in a 4 gallon (15 L) stone crock, glass, stainless steel or food grade plastic container. Add cucumbers, remaining dill, garlic, chilies and pickling spice, if using. Mix together pickling salt, vinegar and water; pour over cucumbers.
  • Insert a clean dinner or glass pie plate on top of the cucumbers inside the fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weigh it down with 2 or 3 clean 1 L clean mason jars filled with water and covered with lids. Cover the container with a clean, heavy bath towel to keep out airborne particles.
  • Store at 70 to 75ºF (21 to 24ºC) for 3 to 4 weeks to allow fermentation. At temperatures between 60 to 65ºF (16 to 18ºC), fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At lower temperatures, cucumbers may not ferment; at higher temperatures, cucumbers may become soft. Check the cucumbers 2 to 3 times each week; remove any scum that forms. Fermentation is complete when bubbling ceases.
  • When cucumbers are fully fermented, store tightly covered in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 months; remove surface scum and moulds regularly. Pickles will keep better and be shelf-stable if heat processed as follows:
  • Place the required number of clean 500 ml or 1 L mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Keep jars hot until ready to use.
  • Preheating Bernardin® lids is not advised. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs better at room temperature than it does pre-heated in simmering water (180°F). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed. Preheating can lead to less vacuum being achieved during water bath canning, and to buckle failures during pressure canning.
  • Drain the brine off the pickles into a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. For a clearer brine, pour through paper coffee filters.
  • Pack pickles into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top rim. Add hot brine to cover pickles to within ½ inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more hot brine. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining cucumbers and hot brine.
  • When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 10 minutes.*
  • When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.
  • After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.