Category Archives: fermentation

Lacto Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

Pickles, Lacto Fermented Garlic Dill

These are fermented but also call for some vinegar. They are crunchy and delicious with a tang that will wake up your mouth. Fresh young pickling cucumbers are the best—look for very green, firm cukes with lots of bumps. These will be nice and crisp and the seeds small & undeveloped.
Grape leaves are optional but they have an ingredient (tannin) that will help keep the pickles crisp.
Prep Time30 minutes
5 days
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fermented pickles
Servings: 1 quart


Main Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium pickling cucumbers
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped coarsely
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 leaf bay
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 3-4 grape leaves optional
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Brine Ingredients

  • 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tbsp sea salt (I prefer 1 rounded tbsp)
  • 1-1/2 c water (filtered preferable)
  • 1/2 c raw cider vinegar


  • Wash the cucumbers, but don’t scrub them (you want to leave some lactobacillus bacteria on them) and rub off any spines.
  • Trim about 1/8 inch off the blossom end of the cucumbers. This removes an enzyme that can make your pickles limp. I also usually cut the cucumbers into halves or quarters so they fit together better in the jar.
  • Put the Main Ingredients in a 1 quart largemouth canning jar and then pack cucumbers in as tightly as possible (try not to bruise them in the process).
  • Mix the brine ingredients together in a bowl and then pour the mixture into the jar to cover the cucumbers completely, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Cover with a canning jar lid and band, write the date or day on the jar (a Sharpie works), place the jar in a bowl (to catch any overflow or leakage on the days the jar is inverted) and once a day, for a week, flip the jar over to redistribute the spices that will tend to settle to the bottom.
  • After a week, keep the jar in the refrigerator. Enjoy!


The original recipe said these would keep for a month in the refrigerator, but I have some that are several months old and they are just as crispy and delicious as they started out. Remember that with ANY fermented vegetables, if they look or smell bad or appear slimy, don’t eat them!

Milk Kefir Recipes

milk kefir and raw milk

Raw milk (L) and kefir (R)

Milk kefir: Milk that has been cultured (fermented) into a thick, creamy, tangy-sour, probiotic-filled smoothie.

Most people don’t know what milk kefir is, but with the growing movement towards whole foods and probiotics, kefir is coming into more public awareness. So much so, that it can now be bought in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores.

Lifeway ( makes kefir in a variety of flavors and styles (low fat, whole milk, Greek, “green”), all containing pasteurized milk. My preference is for raw, unpasteurized milk because of all of the nutritional benefits (see my post on raw milk) that end up being killed by pasteurization. But you would have to culture your own raw milk in order to have raw milk kefir. If you are willing to make it yourself, it’s very easy. Continue reading

Beets: try them, you’ll like them!

Beets — four+ ways to use them.

Having been raised in a somewhat ethnic family (the “old country,” in this case, being Russia/Poland), I tend to be more open to trying– and usually liking–foods that most Americans would not even consider touching. Heart, liver, kidneys, trotters, blood puddings: my relatives had a real “waste no part of the animal mentality.” Nose to tail consumption. As I’ve always been slender and healthy, I figure I must be doing something right. I’ve also never met a vegetable I didn’t like. I’ll never starve to death, that’s for sure!

beets for kvass

All you need are beets, salt and clean H2O to make Kvas.

One vegetable that I enjoy, yet a lot of people will turn their noses up to, is the humble beet. Beets are typically a deep, rich ruby red in color, although you can also find orange and two-tone ones (alternating layers of red and white). Vegetables that have deep colors tend to be supersaturated with nutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

I grow beets in the garden and have come to love the beet greens (tops) as well. Some people say that beets taste like dirt (maybe that’s why I like them, lol), but the tops, when sautéed, taste similar to spinach. Harvesting just a few leaves at a time from several plants throughout the summer and early fall will cause replacement leaves grow, thereby creating a sustainable situation. The leaves can also be added to salads, raw and chopped, therefore retaining their nutritional value.

beet kvas

Kvas: day 1 and ready to ferment.

Some of my favorite ways to use the beet roots is pickling (these can also be canned), roasted and cut into pieces for salads, grated raw into salads, fermented pickling, beet kvas and a cold or hot soup called borscht. Beets also have a natural earthy sweetness to them that pairs beautifully with salty/sour pickling and fermentation.

Pickled Beets
This makes a great cold side dish, especially with summer barbecues or added to a chopped salad. Food Network has a nice Alton Brown pickled beet recipe that calls for roasting the beets first, and then letting them soak in a seasoned brine mixture for up to 7 days before serving. I’ve tried this one and it’s a winner!

beet kvas

Ten days later…

Old Fashioned Fermented Pickled Beets
I’ve tried the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, which calls for whey and it’s just “okay.” I prefer not using whey for fermentation, the results just don’t taste the same as natural fermentation. Here’s a good fermented beets recipe that calls for simply beets, salt and water. Personally, I would also add onions. And fermentation = probiotics!

I’ve never actually made this soup, but I have had it a few times in both Russian and Jewish restaurants. In those instances the cold soup was puréed, served with a dollop of sour cream, and I couldn’t identify what was in it other than beets. Served in this way, the soup makes a nice appetizer (as opposed to a meal, which calls for a heartier recipe).

My search on the internet brought up a variety of recipes that include all sorts of ingredients, some with meat, some without. This Borscht recipe from has the best rating and comments from cooks. I am tempted to take the advice in one comment about using tomato paste, fried in butter, rather than canned tomatoes. Note: Try not to use canned anything, unless you have no other option! Fresh is best!

beet kvas

After 10+ days the Kvas is ready to drink. Yum!

Beet Kvas
This is a fermented, naturally carbonated beverage made from only three ingredients: beets, filtered water and salt. The first time I made and tasted this I just knew it was a tonic for the blood. There’s something about the combination of salty-sour-carbonation that I crave at times. And Kvas practically makes itself.

Update: A week in the fridge and the little kvas I have left has turned a brownish red. But it still smells and tastes good, so keep that in mind.

Beet Kvas - no whey!

A carbonated salty-sour-yet-sweet beverage that can be considered a tonic, or cleansing... or just plain delicious! This will ferment just fine without the whey called for in other recipes.
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time21 minutes
Servings: 1 quarts (roughly)


  • 3-4 beets a generous medium size
  • 1-1/2 quarts water filtered
  • 1 TB sea salt (or a little more if you like)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic Optional


  • Wash beet roots to remove any dirt but don't overdo it, you don't want to remove all the good (lactobacillus) bacteria.
  • Chop into, roughly, 1" chunks.
  • Add beets to a half gallon jar.
  • Add 1 TB sea salt.
  • Add filtered water to within 1/2" below lip.
  • Cover with lid and write the date on the jar with a Sharpie.
  • Allow to ferment, out of direct sunlight, for 1-1/2 weeks or more.
  • When done, this can be strained, or just serve right out of the jar, chunks and all. Enjoy!


Don't drink this if it smells or looks bad or has mold growing in or on it. Natural fermentation can sometimes go wrong, so be smart! My beets sometimes turn almost black, but there is nothing wrong with them and the kvas smells sweet and earthy. Delicious!
The Kvas could become syrupy towards the bottom of the jar. Just mix it back in before consuming.