Learn how to make "brined" pickles with baby cucumbers, garlic, and chili peppers. These are wild fermented pickles without vinegar and with loads of flavor from spicy thai chilis, garlic, and black peppercorns. They are naturally fermented pickles that are full of probiotics and spicy flavor in every crunchy, pickle-y bite.
What is the difference between fermenting and pickling?
The main difference between fermenting and pickling is the liquid used in the process.
Fermenting involves water and salt as the liquid. The natural bacteria and yeast in the air and on the vegetables works with the water and salt to ferment the vegetables. This process involves the breakdown of carbohydrates and sugars into lactic acid and alcohol. You will see the fermentation process happen visibly by the bubbles that form. The longer you leave the fermented vegetables on the counter at room temperature, the stronger the flavor will be.
Pickling generally involves vinegar as the liquid. Most store bought canned pickles you will see are going to be made using vinegar.
What is a pickle brine?
A pickle brine is made with water, salt, and other spices for flavor.
Best pickles for brining
Small, baby, mini, or pickling cucumbers are the best pickles to use for brining because of their small size and thinner skin. Try to find cucumbers that are 3-4 inches or less without any blemishes and that are unwrinkled.
I like to keep the cucumbers whole for these brined pickles, as it keeps them crisp.
Ingredients for fermented cucumbers
- baby cucumbers
- whole black peppercorns
- bay leaves
How to Make Fermented Pickles
Place half of the baby cucumbers into your mason jar or pickle crock. Add garlic, peppercorns, and chilis. Top with remaining cucumbers and press down so the ingredients are tightly packed.
Top second layer of baby cucumbers with salt water solution until the brining liquid is about 1-2 inches past the top of the cucumbers. Use some sort of weight to ensure all of the pickles are submerged. Brine pickles for at least 3-5 days, and up to a couple weeks.
Make sure to keep a bowl under the jar of fermenting cucumbers, as it can sometimes overflow during the pickle fermentation process. You will see bubbles form and you can "burp" or lift the weight up every few days to release those.
You can use this brine to pickle all kinds of veggies, I like carrots and green beans, as well.
Other ingredients to add to pickles
I kept these brined baby pickles pretty simple with just a bit of spice. Some other possible ingredients you could add are:
- Fresh dill
- Grape leaves
- celery seeds
- mustard seeds
How long to ferment pickles
The longer you ferment your pickles, the stronger the flavor will be and the more sour they will taste. I suggest allowing your pickles to ferment for at least 3-5 days, and up to a couple weeks depending on your preference. After the pickles are at the fermentation stage you would like, store them in the fridge.
Once the pickles have reached your desired fermentation level you can store them in the fridge to stop (or dramatically slow down), the fermentation process. They will last in the fridge for several months. These pickles are not canned or cooked, they are kept in the refrigerator and they keep their crunchy texture for a long time!
Fermented Pickles without Vinegar
- 1 lb. baby cucumbers
- 2 cups water about
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 4 thai chilis
- 8 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 5 bay leaves
- Place half of the baby cucumbers into your mason jar or pickle crock.
- Add garlic, peppercorns, and chilis. Top with remaining cucumbers and press down so the ingredients are tightly packed.
- Mix together water and salt until salt is dissolved.
- Top second layer of baby cucumbers with salt water solution until the brining liquid is about 1-2 inches past the top of the cucumbers. Use some sort of weight to ensure all of the pickles are submerged. Brine pickles for at least 3-5 days, and up to a couple weeks.
- Make sure to keep a bowl under the jar of fermenting cucumbers, as it can sometimes overflow during the pickle fermentation process. You will see bubbles form and you can "burp" or lift the weight up every few days to release those.
when you say place a weight on top what kind of weight would this be? what did you use for your weight ?
A glass weight of any kind works great because it's nonreactive. I just used a smaller glass jar I had lying around! -Sarah
Do you put the jar lid on during the fermentation? Lid and weight?
The weight is about 1/2 pound, just enough to keep everything pushed down. As far as lids go, I had a lid loosely placed on, so as to not build too much pressure and crack the glass jar.
Ian Anderson says
Do I place in fridge or keep on counter?
I personally am more comfortable fermenting in the fridge. It slows the process, and they won't be as tangy, but this helps lower the risk of anything unsafe growing.
Sherie Lemire says
After you get all the stuff in the jar and put a weight in, do you a lid on and if so what kind?
If the jar comes with a lid, you can secure it loosely. Otherwise, a cloth over top with a rubber band to secure it works great. You want to make sure it can "breath."