In a Pickle? How Fermented Foods Helped me out of Mine.

by heather in Recipe Wellness at March 11, 2014

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All disease begins in the gut. - Hippocrates

Femented Cucumber Pickles Ingredients

Not feeling well? Can’t find your way out? Look around, there is an extraordinary amount of research out there linking chronic disease, psychological disorders, digestive disorders (and beyond), to poor gut health. Whatever pickle you are in, it likely has an association to your gut health. In it’s simplest form, fermented foods improve your gut health. Eating some fermented veggies at every meal is a great way to help you find your way back to wellness.

So, I’m gonna get as science-y as I get, here. Feel free to drop down to the super duper easy recipe if you already know why fermented foods are full of amazing healing goodness. For everyone else, here goes.

Our gut is home to approximately 10 TRILLION Microorganisms, often referred to as the gut flora. Among other things, the gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 70% of our immune system. Dysregulated (imbalanced) gut flora has been linked to diseases ranging from diabetes and depression to rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (and everything in between).

Our modern lifestyle wreaks havoc on the gut flora; antibiotics, refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods, dietary toxins (like wheat and unhealthy oils), and stress are all contributors to gut dysbiosis.

For an informative and entertaining overview of the entire human microbiome, check out this great video:

I don’t have any digestive symptoms. My gut is fine.
Not. So. Fast. It doesn’t actually work that way. Because the gut is considered the second brain and is also where 70% of the immune system is housed, a gut imbalance can (surprisingly) present as a variety of things including:
– Eczema
– Psoriasis
– Diabetes
– Anxiety
– Generalized fatigue
– Autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid
– Rheumatiod arthritis
– Autism spectrum disorder
– Depression
– And more…

Where do I start?
Well, knowing is half the battle (G.I. Joe was filled with wisdom). The easiest and single most effective thing you can do is start eating fermented foods.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who developed the GAPS diet to treat her son’s Autism says:

“Every traditional culture, when you look at their traditional diet, they ferment their foods. They fermented everything…Quite a large percent of all the foods that people consume on a daily basis were fermented. And with every mouthful of these fermented foods you consume trillions of beneficial bacteria…”

Not only do fermented foods give you a large amount of beneficial bacteria, they give you a wide variety of them. In fact when tested, one serving of fermented vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic supplement. I am a huge believer that food is medicine and this is a case in point. Because of this, acquiring probiotic organisms from food is the preferred method for the body.

When I learned of the benefits of fermented food, I had been on extensive (whoo boy!) courses of oral and intramuscular antibiotics to treat Lyme Disease. This information found me when I was in bad shape, worn out, sick. Before that, I was taking oral probiotics when I had energy. I had been advised to do that, but wasn’t very consistent. I started buying fermented cucumber pickles. But, at $8 per jar at Whole Foods I couldn’t really justify each member of my family eating one at each meal (that would be like, a whole jar a day!). Then, I learned how simple and cost effective it was to prepare your own fermented food and haven’t looked back. Added bonus, you know EXACTLY what goes inside each jar. I firmly believe that incorporating fermented food into my diet was one of the keys to my path to wellness.

I always recommend people to try ferments. They are really so easy. My recommendation is most often met with a bit of trepidation (you too?). Something that once was a common practice seems so foreign and strange. I promise you, it’s not (really)! Easy peasy!

Psst…FYI nothing works for everyone. Fermented foods are no different. It is critical to listen to your own body and recognize how it communicates with you. Start slowly, even just with one tiny bite per day and tune into yourself and note any changes. Some people have difficulty processing histamines and fermented foods and other foods (like leftovers) high in histamine (or produce histamine inside you) would antagonize the body. Suzy Cohen has a lengthy article outlining this in detail.

Without any further adieu, below you will find the SIMPLEST recipe known to man for a food that is worth it’s weight in gold. Hail to the re-emergence of fermented food!

Femented Cucumber Pickles Looking Down

4 Cups of water
2-3 Tablespoons* of natural sea salt (avoid using processed table salt)
3-4 Fresh cucumbers
4-5 Sprigs of fresh dill
5-6 Cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon of pickling spice (clove, fennel, ginger, bay leaves, cardamom pods)

1. Dissolve the salt into the water. Set aside.

2. Chop your cucumbers into desired size. Place in jar.

3. Add dill sprigs, garlic and pickling spices.

4. Pour salt water brine over the ingredients until fully submerged in water.

5. Cover with parchment or waxed paper between lid and jar.

6. Let sit on counter for 2-7 days, opening daily to release pressure.

7. Refrigerate when veggies reach desired sour taste. Enjoy!

*NOTE: I adjusted the salt content in the recipe as it was intended to be 6 teaspoons but accidentally said tablespoons. If you made it with too much salt, you can soak your pickles in plain water for a little while and the salty taste will dissipate.

Femented Cucumber Pickles Brine

In a Pickle

*NOTE: I adjusted the salt content in the recipe as it was intended to be 6 teaspoons but accidentally said tablespoons. If you made it with too much salt, you can soak your pickles in plain water for a little while and the salty taste will dissipate.

– Gut Heal Tea (for now, check out the recipe my friends at Commonwealth Center for Herbal Medicine have provided)
– Prebiotic Food

9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut by Chris Kresser
Gaps Diet Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride


Heather Bruntil is an herbalist living in the greater Boston area. Heather is committed to empowering others to take their health into their own hands. In her own healing from chronic Lyme Disease, she learned how simple and accessible tools such as herbs, food, and lifestyle changes cultivate wellness and vitality from within. Heather is committed to helping others find their way along their own path to live their most vital and empowered life. Heather is also the founder of PlantSoak, a line of handcrafted herbal wellness bath and shower soaks. ____________ The information published on is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Some links listed within this site may be affiliate links, which support me to continue blogging. All products linked are those I would personally use.

Comments (20)
  1. Deb Steady     | Reply

    IN–>formation here is so logical..
    Oh, but the photo’s, like a secret world.
    how they guide you into the words!
    The photo’s are every bit as enticing as
    an ocean sunset. My coat is on, I’m ready
    to run to the store to buy these ingredients..
    (then I’m chowing down in a beach chair).
    Thank you for the enlightening information!

  2. sharla     | Reply

    These are delicious! I love them, but my husband finds them too salty. Can the amount of salt in the recipe be reduced or is that amount necessary for the process? Thanks!

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      Hi Sharla, I’m glad you enjoyed them. You can adjust the amount of salt to your husbands taste if you wish. I also find that if I ferment them a bit longer (keep them on the counter or in the cupboard in room temperature) before refrigerating them the salty taste fades away. You can also make a salt-free ferment (which is actually more biodiverse but can result in mushy vegetables). For a salt-free ferment you can substitute celery juice or seaweed. You might want to check out for more information on that approach.

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      Great! Let me know how they turn out. This link might help you find your own customized recipe for your own tastes and discusses salt as a historical preservative. If I didn’t mention before, please don’t use processed table salt (I’ll add a little notation to the recipe). Use natural and unprocessed sea salt, it usually has a color to it. My favorite is Celtic Gray Salt but any good, unprocessed sea salt will do.

  3. Gumbyy     | Reply

    Interesting that in the new book The Art of Fermentation there is a quote from a team of Korean academics that denrimeted optimal taste for kimchi required just a 3 day ferment with a 3% salt ratio. I’ve done 3 day ferments in the heat of the summer that tasted awesome. They don’t have the diverse probiotic cultures of older ferments, but they still taste good!

  4. kristen     | Reply

    I find after 2 days on the counter the pickles are way too salty. I saw your remark to leave them on the counter longer to help ease the saltiness. Do you mean beyond the 7 days? Just want to clarify. They smell heavenly! Thanks :)

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      Yes, you can leave them to ferment a bit longer. However, I did list Tablespoon when I meant Teaspoon in the original recipe. My apologies! I’ve since changed it. If you made it with the full amount of salt from the original recipe you can soak the pickles in a little fresh water to pull some of the salty taste out.

  5. Deanna     | Reply

    What size jar is used? I’m assuming that 4 cups of water with the cucumbers will not fit into a quart jar, but seem too little for a gallon jar. Please advise.
    Thanks!! I’m looking forward to making these.

  6. MaryAnn Wiszowaty     | Reply

    Can the pickles be sliced onto a sandwich which is the way I like to eat pickles or must you eat them separate to get the benefit?

  7. rebecca     | Reply

    I am making these right now, it is now day two on the counter. I’m not sure if the brine is supposed to turn cloudy or not. Been hesitant to make these cuz I am not sure if Im making them correctly.

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      Hi Rebecca! Don’t worry, you are doing great. The liquid should turn cloudy. Be sure to burp them daily, if you can and refrigerate once they are to your desired taste.

  8. Susan     | Reply

    I just started my cucumbers and am so excited for the end result but I have one question. I bought fresh dill from the store but it doesn’t appear as fresh as yours anyway (don’t laugh) how much is a sprig? I either put too much or not enough.

  9. Susan     | Reply

    Also some of them turned icky like mushy. Those cucumbers I had to take the seeds out. Could that be because the cucumbers I used were to big? The other ones seem to be fine, I refrigerated the not mushy ones and they are pretty good. Do you use the packaged dill or fresh? Sorry so many questions.

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