Reduced Salt Half-Sour Fermented Deli Pickles

Laboring in my garden and harvesting my own food is rewarding.

What is not rewarding is when I open a jar of my own fermented pickles and spit them out in disgust.

That is what happened to me when I tried various pickling recipes found on the internet. For me they are way to salty, inedible for my palette.  The USDA or National Center for home food preservation calls for 1/2 cup of salt per half gallon of water.  I have followed these recipes many, many times and I have not found one person who can stand to eat them. So if you want to avoid ruining all your hard work don’t follow those recipes or do a small test batch first to see if you can stomach the salt.

Fermented vegetables can be safer than raw vegetables, because the fermentation process kills harmful bacteria with salt an essential ingredient. Canning and pickling salt is recommended since table salt or other types of salt can inhibit fermentation. Salt affects the type and extent of microbial activity and helps keep vegetables from becoming soft.

Here is my tested recipe that uses less salt.

  • 4 lbs medium pickling cucumbers, washed and with the flower end removed
  • 1/2 Gallon (8 cups) pure cool water (do not use treated water)
  • 8-10 Fresh Dill heads
  • 8-10 Fresh Grape leaves, wild or tame (optional-helps with crispness)
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and pricked with a knife
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spices
  • 3 Tbsp pickling salt
  • 2 dried hot red peppers

Mix the water and salt together until all salt is dissolved. In a clean crock or large glass pickling jar place the above ingredients and begin packing with your clean cucumbers. When finished packing pour the cool brine over the cucumbers. My jar wasn’t full so I placed a water filled clean zip lock bag on top to weigh down the ingredients and keep them under the brine. If you do not have a large jar or crock evenly divide the ingredients into individual jars.


Now place it in a cool dark corner and check on them daily. The warmer the temperature the faster they will ferment. 5-10 days is the maximum for half-sour deli pickles. Test them after a few days and when they taste the way you like them, place them in the refrigerator. This slows the fermentation process, but will not eliminate it completely. So the faster you eat them the crisper they will be. Enjoy.

Tip: Always follow safe preserving methods using clean jars, utensils and vegetables not contaminated with manure or compost.

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