*This recipe is gluten-free according to industry standards

It’s best to use small, thick-skinned, gherkin-style ridge cucumbers for this. A very important ingredient for keeping them crisp is tannin – we use fresh grape leaves, which you can buy dried from – or a pinch of tea leaves, raspberry, blackberry or oak leaves work, too. If you have enough, put one on the bottom and then use another to hold the pickles under the brine before adding a weight and sealing the vessel.


  • 500g small ridge cucumbers
  • 1 grape leaf or other tannin-rich leaf
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of dried flakes bird's-eye chilli
  • 2-3 dill roots and stalk, otherwise use the fronds or seeds
  • 3 tbsp sea salt, finely ground


  • STEP 1

    Clean your jar well and give the cucumbers a wash. Cut off the blossom end as there are enzymes in it that can make the cucumber go soft.

  • STEP 2

    You can find this because it sticks out more than the stem end (take off both ends if you are confused).

  • STEP 3

    Put a grape leaf in the bottom of the jar. Add the garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, chilli and dill roots and any other spices you’d like.

  • STEP 4

    Strategically place the cucumbers in the jar, squeezing in as many as possible, packing them tightly. Don’t allow any in that are spoiled or a bit soft because they won’t ferment well.

  • STEP 5

    Make the brine by dissolving the salt into a small amount of hot water first then top up to a litre with cold water to make a 5% brine.

  • STEP 6

    Pour the brine into the jar over the vegetables, using as much as you need to cover it completely.

  • STEP 7

    Add another leaf, and top it with a ‘follower’ (see page 117) or a weight, and seal. If you are not using an air-lock jar open the jar quickly every day to let gas escape then reseal.

  • STEP 8

    Wait 5-10 days then start to taste and refrigerate once you are happy with the fermentation.

  • STEP 9

    While fermenting, keep the jar out of direct sunlight and ideally at a constant room temperature of between 14C and 21C.

  • STEP 10

    After about 3 days the liquid might turn cloudy, which is normal, and there could be discolouration at the top.

  • STEP 11

    That’s OK. Taste one and if it’s suitably sour, perhaps slightly softer than the vinegared kind then put the jar into the fridge to slow any further fermenting down.

  • STEP 12

    Keep the veg under the brine.

Ferment for Good | Sharon Flynn


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating