Old-fashioned salt and water pickles are something your great-grandma knew how to make and had crocks or barrels full of. They have a trendy name today as fermented foods are quickly becoming popular again, but they’re really the same thing as a salt and water, aka, fermented pickle.
Fermented foods are a form of food preservation, especially for vegetables before we had refrigeration, freezers, and even one of my main loves in life, the Mason jar. Many pioneers of old would pack their harvest into barrels and crocks with water and salt.
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Making fermented pickles are relatively easy and can be done with pretty much any fruit or vegetable.
It’s a form of using a saltwater brine that creates a fermented culture of beneficial lactic acid microbes! Think probiotics exactly as God made them.
The beauty of fermented foods is they keep your food preserved and actually make them more nutritious due to being more easily digested and used by your body because of the cultures. Did you know that some new studies in science are showing that our immune system is actually in our gut and that beneficial bacteria helps your digestive tract, therefore your immune system as well.
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Salt- the correct salt will make a huge difference in the success of your fermentation. It is not recommended to use table, pickling or canning salt. The best choices for salt are unrefined sea salts with no additives listed on the packaging, this is the salt I use for fermenting. Celtic Sea Salt-Light Gray
Pickling lid- these are special lids that help keep oxygen out (which helps keep mold and bacteria out of your ferment) to keep your ferment healthy and happy. I’ve tried fermenting without these, and with the exception of sauerkraut, have found these to be so worth it and haven’t had to throw any food out due to mold since using them.
Fermenting Weight- you can use a small cup, a glass fermenting weight, or anything that will keep the contents below the brine. These fermenting cups go right inside the jar and are by far the cheapest I’ve found.
Fermenting Crock- this is best for doing things like sauerkraut or kimchi, I prefer the fermenting lid for things like cucumbers and green beans due to having batches spoil in the crocks. The cabbage tends to be more hardy.
Fermented Vegetables Cookbook– using the term cookbook seem weird because for the most part, fermented foods are raw baby. This book has 120+ recipes and is on my Christmas list. The cover is so pretty I had to share it below.
Want a fermenting cheat sheet? My friend Wardee from has a Fermenting Formula Cheat Sheet you can snag here.
Sometimes it’s super helpful to have a video when learning something new, so we’re filming some of our podcast episodes to make sure I’m helping you as much as possible from from scratch cooking, to preserving your food at home, old-fashioned recipes and ferments (like today) to the heirloom garden and barnyard… perhaps the natural remedies and herbal medicine cabinet, too.
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Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.