Vinegar-Free Cucumber Pickles (Fresh and Easy!)

Late July and early August are when the pickling cucumbers are in season in my area, so it's pickle making time. And the good news is, there is no standing near a hot canner in a steamy kitchen for these beauties ~ there is no cooking involved.
Because I've been attempting to incorporate more healthful probiotics (the good-for-your-gut bacterias/cultures) into our diet these lacto-fermented pickles are yet another way to do so. These delicious pickles taste more like kosher-style dills than average heavily vinegared dill pickles. To me they are a bit more sophisticated on the palate, and won't over-power whatever you are serving them with. I adore them.

We didn't grow cucumbers in our veggie garden this year so I picked up these organic ones at the Farmers Market. When I grow them myself I prefer to harvest them when they are a bit smaller than these, but I went with what was available. The first step is to wash the cucumbers thoroughly.

Then the cute cukes take a nice leisurely ice water bath (from 1 to 6 hours) until they are thoroughly chilled and hydrated, to assure maximum crispness.

This time I decided to use elements from Sandor Katz's recipe in his book

and one of Sally Fallon's recipes from her fabulous book
These cucumber pickles aren't canned, but are allowed to develop at room temperature for a few days, then transferred to the refrigerator to be enjoyed anytime during the next several months.

You can adjust the herbs and spices to suit your own tastes. I used fresh dill ~ and although I grow it in my herb garden, I bought these monster organic stalks for $1. per bundle at the Farmer's Market. Here you see them standing in s bucket of water--and nearly as tall as me-- in a corner of my kitchen.
What I don't use immediately, I'll dry most and package for use throughout the year, I'll make a couple of bottles of Fennel & Dill vinegar as well. Dill is also wonderful used to season sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, dips and spreads. Some use dill as a salt substitute, it compliments fish, meats, eggs and potato salad, too. Dill tea can be used to settle stomachs as well. I just love the smell (and taste) of dill.

The other herbs and spices you may be able to see are Bay leaves (from the garden), garlic cloves, mustard seeds, fennel and coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, whole allspice, whole cloves and a few whole black peppercorns. I used Celtic sea salt and also tucked some sweet red bell pepper slices into the jar ~ they are marvelous when pickled. Ditto the garlic!
TIP: An ancient secret for CRUNCHY pickles ~
Add a leaf or four of one of the following to your jar:
Oak, Sour Cherry, Horseradish, or Grape leaves.
(Pick them the day you will be making your pickles.)
I plucked some grape leaves from the garden this time and at day 5 the pickles have still retained their crispy crunch which makes me very happy!

To help promote the fermentation process you can add some whey (the liquid from cheese making, the whey which separates from plain, natural yogurt), or kombucha (fermented tea ~homemade, or store bought.) These are optional, and if you don't have them, just add an additional tablespoon of salt.

The sea salt is dissolved in filtered water, and kombucha or whey, (if you are using) is stirred in. This solution is poured into the sterilized jar/s to cover the cucumbers completely.

Some recipes instruct to leave the lids off of the jar, but I screw them down and leave the jars on the counter for 3 days to allow the fermentation process to begin. Before refrigerating you can take a taste of one of the pickles to make sure they are developed to your liking, if not leave out an additional day or two. This time mine were ready for the refrigerator after 3 days at room temperature.
Note: Don't be alarmed if the brine/liquid turns cloudy after a few days, that is simply the fermentation process doing it's work, and is to be expected.
Incidentally, if you prefer pickle spears, or slices, simply cut them the way you like after washing, then put them in the ice water bath and proceed with the directions from there.
Yum! I love an excellent pickle ~ very well flavored, nicely sour and extra crispy-crunchy!

Thank you for stopping by, and any comments you would like to share.
Have a GREAT weekend, friends!

If you try these non-vinegar pickles I hope you like them too.

I'm participating in: Foodie Friday, with thanks to Michael Lee for hosting us!

And ~

Click logo to link.
Simple Life Thursday.
With greatful thanks to Wardeh of Gnowfglins and partners for hosting us!


  1. This is fascinating, Mari and the pickles look delicious and so vibrant in color!


  2. Mari, I have a child who's a pickle fiend- he loves his Kosher dills. I'll definitely try these
    xoxo Pattie

  3. What a beautiful series of photographs! I cannot wait to try this recipe, because so far I've only made pickles with vinegar!
    Thank you for contributing to Simple Lives Thursday!

  4. those look fun, never been a pickle person, but they are pretty enough to give it a go! i have whole spiced lemons fermenting on my counter for a month, they smell so good i can't wait to give them a go, my husband looks at them as death in a bottle with no refrigeration... i kinda agree with him!

    hope you and the girls are doing well, isn't our weather outrageous! coolest summer in 40 years, so nice not to owe our soul to the power comp for a/c this year!

    hope you are jumping on that train ride and we see you on fft next sat, all aboard! i am taking fft on the road and off to carmel for a bit of fog with the dogs~ first time in a hotel with them, i fear the damage bill, pray for us!

  5. Your pictures are absolutely amazing! Unfortunately I lost my cukes early this year, but I'm sure this is a great recipe!

  6. I've been eating a lot of fresh cucumbers lately... These pickles look great! I will have to try them.

  7. I love finding new ways to prepare a pickle! These look so great and the photos are wonderful. Thanks for this one!

  8. Hi Mari!

    I am a relatively new to Nourishing Traditions, but have just made my first cream cheese so that I had whey for my first batch of sauerkraut. Kombucha is fermenting in the pantry too. Now, I'll have to follow your lead on the pickles! Yum.

    Gorgeous blog!

    To eating well,

  9. I have not done lacto-fermented pickles yet but I did sauerkraut, cabbage, apples and carrots. It is wonderful. Your pickles look beautiful, I will have to put them on my to do list xoxo Clarice

  10. Those are some amazing cucumber/pickle pictures! I can taste them right now!!

  11. Mari, these pictures are so beautiful I can almost taste the pickles! I am so glad you added your post to Simple Lives Thursday! Thanks!

  12. These sound wonderful and amazing and and and!!!!

  13. These looks amazing! My husband loves pickles and I am always looking for a new recipe!!

  14. Your pictures are gorgeous...I love the shots of the dill! These look delicious.

  15. The dill in my garden is growing like gangbusters, so I'm going to give this new to me method a try. Thanks for all the beautiful pics! This is a fabulous post!

  16. Good afternoon, Mari! So glad I found your delicious blog today!

    Your photos are beautiful, and I love your descriptions of your procedures...very clear.

    Also enjoyed learning the ancient secret to pickle crunchiness--LOVE learning things like that!

    I'll be back often...hope you're having a beautiful Monday!


  17. Those look So beautiful! I can just taste them now :)

  18. Mary, you are such an inspiration.
    Your photos are something else.


  19. How beautiful and delicious they look! Tonight is Farmers Market night, I hope they have some cucumbers!!!

  20. Mari, those are just gorgeous!! Such beautiful photography. I've been MIA lately and have dearly missed your posts. I have some catching up to do!


  21. The photos are as crisp and enticing as the pickles. I love this post. Miss you!

  22. Thank you for the tip on the leaves for crunchy pickles. I enjoyed the read very much. Annie


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