A few people have asked me exactly how I make my lacto-fermented pickles. I haven’t really shared a recipe because I don’t actually use one. I use a method instead.

You see, when I first started making ferments I was totally obsessed with exact recipes. I was still in the pasteurized mentality and the thought of leaving things out at room temperature to actually improve the health of the food went against everything I had ever been taught.

But as I’ve experimented more over the last five years I have learned that no two ferments are alike, which is part of the beauty of it, and that as long as you understand the method you can ferment just about anything.

We have really come to enjoy these pickles and the help that they are to our digestion.

Here is my method:

Make a brine from 5 tablespoons of fine-grained sea salt and two quarts of hot water. Allow to cool before using.

Meanwhile wash your cucumbers and grape leaves really well and allow to soak in some cold water.

At the bottom of a 1/2 gallon jar add a generous amount of dill, two grape leaves, a few cloves of peeled garlic, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Start packing the largest cucumbers vertically in the bottom half of the jar so that they fit tightly. Add another layer of dill, grape leaves, garlic, and spices.

Layer in the smaller cucumbers horizontally or vertically, however you can best pack them in tight, leaving a good 1 1/2 – 2 inches of head space. Add one more layer of dill and red pepper flakes.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers until completely covered. Place a grape leaf over top of the cucumbers and dill so that it keeps them under the brine level. Make sure there is at least an inch between the brine and the top of the jar.

Place the jar lid on tightly and leave at room temperature for 3-5 days, depending on the temperature. When it is really warm (80+) I find that three days is enough. If it is cooler I like to leave them for another day or two, or until the brine is bubbly and cloudy.

During this time I also like to "burp" the jars every day to release some of the pressure. We have had a jar crack and explode on us in the middle of the night and had to throw away the pickles.

Place in the refrigerator or other cold storage facility. Eat them right away or leave them to age which will produce an even better flavor and you can enjoy them in the dead of winter.

So that’s how I’ve been making our pickles.

Do you have a different method you can share?