Fermented Pickles

In an effort to improve my digestion and the overall health of my gut, I have joined the growing number of people who consume fermented foods daily. My favorite fermented foods include kombucha (I've been making my own since 2018), kefir (store-bought, because I've failed multiple times to make my own), sauerkraut (homemade) and pickles. These foods are expensive to purchase but surprisingly not difficult to make at home for a fraction of the cost of store-bought. I encourage you to try making your own fermented pickles. If I can do it then anybody can!

Fermented Pickles

(makes 9-10 large pickles)

3 tablespoons sea salt
8-12  cups of spring water (chlorine-free), divided
1 black tea bag (see Note below)
6 bay leaves
8 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh dill
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds small cucumbers
1/2 gallon glass canning jar
apple cider vinegar

It is important that you begin with a glass jar free of bacteria. Start by cleaning the glass canning jar thoroughly with dish soap and tap water, rinse with tap water and drain, then add one-half cup of apple cider vinegar to the jar and swirl around the interior of the glass jar. Drain the ACV and thoroughly rinse the jar again with tap water. Now your jar is ready for safe fermenting! Add sea salt and 8 cups of spring water to the glass jar; stirring to combine until the salt dissolves. Add all remaining ingredients: black tea bag through cucumbers. If cucumbers are higher than the water line, then add more spring water until the cucumbers are fully submerged. You may need to add a glass weight on top to prevent cucumbers from popping above the water line. It is necessary for the cucumbers to stay fully submerged while fermenting. Cover the top of the jar with a clean dish towel or a large coffee filter; secure it with a rubber band. This allows the mixture to breathe while keeping out dust and other unwanted objects. Place the jar out of direct sunlight. I find it best to cover the jar with a large towel. After a few days, the brine will become cloudy and you'll see bubbles begin to form. This is a good sign that the cucumbers are turning into pickles. Check the pickles every couple of days to be sure that they are staying below the water line. If any mold begins to form at the top, use a clean spoon to remove it. Taste the pickles after 5-10 days. They can sit at room temperature to ferment for as much as 4 weeks, getting more sour with time. Initially the pickles will taste salty, but they will become more sour with time. Once the pickles are sour enough to your liking, place them covered in your refrigerator for up to six months.
Note: the purpose of the black tea bag is to provide tannins to keep the pickles crisp. The tea won't affect the final taste. 

Can you see the small glass bowl sitting on top, weighing down the cucumbers? Not pictured is the coffee filter and rubber band I added to the top, after taking the picture. 

Day 5: pickles are not quite ready. They taste vinegary, but I know the tangy flavor will develop more in the coming days.