Fermented cucumbers

Fermented Cucumbers

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Homemade fermented cucumber pickles definitely bring a taste of childhood to my table. Every summer, I love making lacto-fermented pickles using salt brine, similar to the ones my father and grandma used to make.

fermented cucumber pickles

These naturally fermented cucumbers are super tasty and perfectly crispy. They are packed with beneficial probiotic microorganisms that are important for gut health. This easy pickles recipe is a go-to for the summer and only requires three basic ingredients.

Ingredients for lacto-fermented cucumbers

For this easy homemade lacto-fermented cucumbers recipe, you will need the following ingredients: 

  • Cucumbers
  • Sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • Water
  • Herbs and spices (optional) – dill, bay leaves, black peppercorns, mustard seeds.
fermented cucumber pickles

Choosing the best cucumbers for fermenting

My favourite cucumbers for fermenting are pickling cucumbers. In Croatia, farmers usually sell them in two sizes – the super tiny ones that are the best for regular vinegar pickles, and the medium-sized ones that are great for lacto-fermenting.

Pickling cucumbers are firm and crunchy with a lower water content than other cucumber varieties, which makes them perfect for fermenting. Because of their firm and crisp structure, they won’t turn soggy after the fermentation. 

These cucumbers will give you that perfect crunchy result that I believe most of us prefer. 

fermented cucumber pickles
Pickling cucumbers. They are small, naturally crispy and with a less smooth skin. I buy them at the farmers’ market.

In case you cannot find pickling cucumbers where you live, here are some varieties that will also work in this recipe:

  • English cucumbers, also called seedless cucumbers – the crispy ones with thin skin that are usually sold by piece in stores.
  • Cocktail cucumbers – very similar to the English cucumbers, but smaller. Just like the English cucumbers, these work great because of their thin skin and crisp texture.

Regular cucumbers are usually my last choice and I will only use them if cannot find any of the other three varieties. The combination of thick skin and somewhat soft flesh makes these cucumbers less ideal for lacto-fermenting. 

Yes, they will ferment well and taste nice like the other ones, but they will most likely turn a bit soggy. If that is something that does not bother you, you can absolutely use regular cucumbers in this recipe.

The perfect amount of salt for the fermentation brine

After many years of making these fermented cucumber pickles, I have come to the conclusion that a 3% salt solution gives me the best results in terms of taste and texture.

If you follow this recipe, your cucumbers should turn out nicely sour, a bit salty and crunchy.

I’ve seen some people use up to 4 per cent salt in the recipe, but having tried many different percentages, I have to say that I personally find anything above 3.5% way too salty. 

If using less than 3%, you risk getting soggy pickles. Also, a 3% salt concentration makes a good environment for fermentation to happen without harmful microorganisms in your end result.

fermented cucumber pickles

The best herbs and spices for fermenting cucumbers

These fermented cucumbers are great just as they are, but you can also enhance their flavour with some fresh herbs or spices. These are some of my favourites:

  • Dill leaves and flowers – dill is a classic when it comes to pickled cucumber recipes. Whether it’s normal pickles or the fermented ones, you cannot go wrong with adding some of this aromatic summer herb.
  • Bay leaves – great for homemade lacto-ferments because they contain tannins – tart substances that will help you achieve a crunchy texture. Also, bay leaves have a beautiful aroma that reminds me of Mediterranean summer.
  • Oregano and thyme – also classic Mediterranean spices that will enrich your pickles’ flavour.
  • Fresh or dried garlic
  • Mustard seeds
  • Black pepper.

You can use only one, two, or a mix of more herbs and spices. There is no right or wrong, just what works best for your taste. No herbs or spices is also a good option and it won’t leave your pickles tasting any less good.

Making the fermented cucumber pickles

Before you start making fermented pickles, prepare your jars. Pickling jars should be sterilised in order to minimize the possibility of mould contamination.

Check out this post to learn how to properly sterilise the jars at home.

Wash the cucumbers with water to remove any leftover dirt from them. Remove the blossom ends from the cucumbers. If you are not sure which one is the blossom end and which one is the stem end, you can remove both.

The blossom tips of the cucumbers contain enzymes that can cause the cucumbers to soften and turn soggy after a while.

Slice the cucumbers in fourths lengthwise and put them into a jar. Fill the whole width of the jar with cucumbers – put as many as you can without squishing them or fitting them too tightly.

fermented cucumber pickles

Add the salt to the water and mix to dissolve. Pour this brine over the cucumbers. The level of the brine should be over the level of the cucumbers so that they stay submerged. 

It is good to leave at least one or two centimetres of empty space above the brine level because there will be bubbles of carbon dioxide forming during fermentation. This will make the brine level grow a bit.

Make sure your cucumbers will stay submerged through the whole fermentation process by putting a fermentation weight, or simply a small glass jar or a ceramic dish on top of the cucumbers before closing the jar.

A small stoneware bowl and small glass jar can both work great in case you don’t have a fermentation weight. The lid of the big jar will keep the small dish in its place, while the small dish will keep the cucumbers submerged. Just make sure that the brine doesn’t end up inside of the small jar or bowl after you close the big jar, to avoid any possible mould or unwanted bacteria development.

Cucumbers will naturally ferment because of the Lactobacilli that are naturally present on their skin. Those same bacteria are also the reason why these pickles will be a fantastic health food. 

fermented cucumber pickles

These cucumber pickles usually take up to two weeks to ferment, but if it is hot outside, they can take as short as a week. Keep an eye on them, and when they have changed colour to a dull and yellowish green, you can give them a smell and taste test.

If they smell and taste acidic and have a nice, pickled flavour, they are done. It is really hard to miss with this, so don’t worry if it is one of your first fermentations. If they would go bad, you would feel it.

If they do smell bad, don’t eat them because it is likely that something didn’t go well in the fermentation process.

Tips for getting super crispy pickles

To make your homemade fermented cucumber pickles as crispy as possible, follow these few tips.

  • Choose the cucumbers that are fresh and firm. Even if you are using pickling cucumbers or other crisp varieties such as English cucumbers, make sure they don’t feel soggy or dehydrated to the touch.
  • Remove the ends of the cucumbers because they contain enzymes that can soften them in the process.
  • Add a couple of bay leaves to your fermentation. The tannins in the leaves will help with keeping the cucumbers crisp.
  • From my experience, medium-sized pickling cucumbers will turn out best if you cut them in fourths length-wise. That is how I usually get the crispiest result with these.

Mould or not?

While the fermentation happens, it is normal to see a thin, white, wrinkly pellicle form on top of the fermentation liquid. This is NOT mould. 

It is a normal and common growth of wild yeasts that can often happen when making fermented cucumber pickles. Just remove it before eating the cucumbers and you are good to go.

Moulds, on the other hand, can be easily recognised by their fuzzy white, blueish-green, dark or pink spots. 

If you follow all the steps as described, it is hard to get a mould or harmful bacteria contamination. The amount of salt in the brine will keep the pickles protected while also allowing the fermentation to happen.

If, however, you see a mould on the surface of your pickles or notice a foul smell, do not eat them. Just discard the batch, sterilise the jars and start over.

How to use this recipe with different quantities

The amounts written in the recipe card below are perfect for a litre (~34 fl. oz) glass jar. If you are using, for example, two smaller jars, or just want to make pickles from a different amount of cucumbers, here is how to easily calculate everything.

Glass jars come in different shapes and sizes, so the amount of water needed can vary. The exact ratio of water to cucumbers is less important in this recipe. The only important thing is to keep the salt concentration as close to 3% as possible. 

An easy way to do it would be to put a glass jar onto a scale, tare the scale to zero and fill it with cucumbers and water. Measure the weight of cucumbers and water together and multiply by 0,03 to get the weight of salt that you need (it will not be exactly 3%, but it will be close enough). 

Add that salt to the jar, close the jar with a lid and gently shake or turn upside down until the salt dissolves. 

This is an easy method to prevent any miscalculations related to the amount of brine needed to fill the jar.

Yield: 1 liter jar (34 fl. oz)

Fermented Cucumbers

Fermented cucumbers

Learn how to make super tasty and crispy lacto-fermented cucumber pickles with this easy salt-brine fermentation recipe.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 days
Total Time 10 days 20 minutes


  • 500 g fresh pickling cucumbers
  • 400 g water
  • 28 g Himalayan salt
  • Fresh herbs or spices (optional) - dill, bay, black pepper


  1. Sterilise the glass jar for pickling.
  2. Wash the cucumbers with water to remove the leftover soil.
  3. Remove the ends to ensure you get rid of the enzymes that could cause them to soften during fermentation. This ensures you get crispy pickles.
  4. Slice the cucumbers into fourths lengthwise.
  5. Fill the jar with cucumber slices. The jar’s width should be completely filled up, but the cucumbers should be able to get in without forcing and squishing them.
  6. Add the spices to the jar. I normally use fresh dill, bay leaves and black peppercorns.
  7. Make the brine by dissolving the salt in the water. Alternatively, fill the jar with water and cucumbers on a tared scale and add the salt last so as to prevent making too much or too little brine (read more in the notes below).
  8. Put a fermentation weight or a small jar on top to keep the cucumbers submerged throughout the whole fermentation.
  9. Close the jar with a lid.
  10. Let the cucumbers ferment for 10-14 days, or until they smell and taste pleasantly sour and pickled.
  11. When you are happy with the taste, transfer the jar to the fridge to slow down the fermentation.


  • Sterilising jars before pickling helps you prevent any mould growth during the fermentation.
  • Instead of pickling cucumbers, you can use English cucumbers and cocktail cucumbers. Read more about choosing the best cucumbers in the text above.
  • These amounts will work for a litre glass jar (that is about 34 fl. oz). In case you have jars in different sizes or want to use a different amount of cucumbers, you can do this instead of making the brine in advance: put an empty glass jar onto a scale, tare the scale to zero and fill it with cucumbers and water. Measure the weight of cucumbers and water together and multiply by 0,03 to get the weight of salt that you need. Add the salt to the jar with cucumbers and water, close with a lid and gently shake to dissolve the salt.
  • The cucumbers usually need up to two weeks to ferment, but if the weather is very warm, you can start checking them after a week already. They will change colour and smell pleasantly sour when they are ready. It is okay to leave them a bit longer if you want them more sour. If you are happy with their taste, put them in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.

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  1. Hi Luna ^_^

    Probala sam napraviti nekoliko puta fermentirani ljubicasti kupus i to je ispalo sjajno. Jedino sto nikad nisam usavrsila tehniku, ili pronasla metodu cime submergeati povrce ispod vode. Radila sam to pokrivanjem sadrzaja listovima kupusa koji bi se neizbjezno ponekad na nekim mjestima uzdigli iznad vode.

    Sad sam probala sa utapanjem dva tri sterilizirana kamencica (oni sa plaze).

    Prosla su 4 tjedna i na moje iznenadjenje kamencici su se poceli rahliti/raspadati. Dakle imam super fermentirani uzorak koji sjajno mirise, ali sad kad sam vidjela da su kamenja tako na opip raspinuta samo sam ostala bez ikakve ideje sta dalje.

    Dakle uvijek isto pitanje ostaje, kako potopiti taj sadrzaj povrca ispod vode :///.

    Mozda imas neki savjet :)?

    Hvala ti na vremenu,

    1. Bok Ana 🙂
      Drago mi je da ti je fermentirani kupus super ispao. Ja ga isto obožavam! Istina, dobro je imati nešto što ga drži ispod tekućine tako da ne moraš svaki dan to vilicom gurati natrag… Ovi kamenčići koje si koristila su vjerojatno bili karbonatni kamenčići koji su se onda od kiseline raspali. Neki drugi kamen bi vjerojartno funkcionirao, ali onda bi trebalo znati koji je sastav kamena.
      Postoji nešto što se na engleskom zove “fermentation weight”, pišem tako da možeš googlati jer mislim da kod nas toga nema za kupiti, inače mislim da se na hrvatskom kaže uteg za fermentaciju. To je debelo staklo kružnog oblika, ili 2 polukruga, koji se onda stave na vrh staklenke da drže povrće ispod tekućine. Ali ne moraš imati baš to (ja nemam, tek si planiram izraditi od keramike). Možeš staviti manju staklenku, a opet ne premalu, i onda preko nje zatvoriti veliku staklenku. To sam napisala kratko u ovom postu ali sada vidim da nisam stavila nikakvu sliku. Stavit ću danas, hvala ti na komentaru!
      Meni te manje staklenke dobro funkcioniraju, ali naravno da su oni pravi utezi za fermentaciju bolja opcija. Ako često radiš fermentirano povrće, vjerojatno se i isplati naručiti (kažem ja koja i dalje nisam sve ove godine, haha).
      Ja nekad stavim i malu plitku keramičku zdjelicu (od kamenine tako da je manje porozna, to je neka moja logika ali možda može bilo kakva keramika) pa isto zatvorim staklenku preko toga tako da zdjelica drži povrće potopljeno, a poklopac velike staklenke drži zdjelicu unutra. Samo bi bilo dobro da tekućina ne završi unutar te male zdjelice ili manje staklenke jer onda nije u kontaktu s ostatkom tekućine koja fermentira pa postoji mogućnost da se razvije plijesan. Eto to su neki moji mali hack-ovi, ništa naročito ali nadam se da će ti pomoći. Sretno s fermentiranjem!

      1. Ejla Luna ^_^

        Iskrene zahvale na djeljenju svojih hackova. Kuhinja, kad se ode van gabarita necega uobicajenog, skoro pa pocinje nalikovati na labos za koje je ipak potrebno neko predznanje ili pak znanje osnova interogiranja tvari 😀 jako zanimljivo! Mislim da me kod ovih kamencica zeznulo bas to sto sam mislila da ako su to ovi obli sa morskih plaza, da su oni prosli test poroznosti u slanom mediju i da ce bit ok. Ali to je tako štura pretpostavka buduci da treba uzeti u obzir zapravo puno parametara 😀 once again jako zanimljivo!

        Pogledati cu za te fermantation weight na Amazonu, hopefully bude nesto (u Lux).

        Pisala si u postu o teglicama, manja na vrh vece, true, ali pravo da kazem da sam se tu pogubila jer moje teglice u kojima inaxe radim povrce su zapremnine 450mL 😀 Mozda da nabavim kakve velike Ikeine?

        Probala sam takodjet jednom fermentirati sa teglicama koje se hermeticki zatvaraju (no bez gumica) no cini se da taj batch nije bio ni priblizno kao onaj iz uobicajenih staklenki. Da li vrijedi ustanoviti da je potreban kisik koji malo dihti ispod poklopca kako bi ferment bio uspjesniji? 🙂

        Lijepi pozdrav,

        1. Hej Ana! Oprosti na kasnom odgovoru. Da, ima puno faktora koji utječu, pogotovo kada se radi o fermentaciji. Slažem se da je to zanimljivo :))
          Ja obično radim u klasičnim većim teglicama – od maslina, krastavaca, meda, u njih stane oko 600 ml, tj ako bi išla još mala staklenka na vrh onda recimo 500. Ili one od 1 l, te su super, ali isto ih nisam posebno kupovala već mi ostanu od kokosovog ulja. I onda imam manje staklenke od 60 ml koje su baš savršena dimenzija za na vrh 😀
          Za lakto-fermentaciju (dakle ovakvu fermentaciju povrća u kojoj su prisutne bakterije) nije potreban kisik, to je anaeroban proces, ali ne smeta ako staklenka nije savršeno zatvorena. Inače ljudi uglavnom preferiraju koristiti te dobro zabrtvljene staklenke s gumom, ali ja isto imam dobra iskustva s običnim staklenkama na navoj tako da i dalje većinom njih koristim. Zanimljivo da ti baš taj “školski” batch nije bio toliko dobar – iskreno, ne znam zašto je tako! Ali super da ti ide dobro s običnim staklenkama 🙂

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