DIY All-Natural Probiotic Pickle Recipe

Top your burgers this summer with some made-at-home pickles your guts will love.

Bruce Boudreau flying his new colors in California. Photograph by Brett Haber. I always thought the Capitals should have made Bruce Boudreau plushes—little stuffed dolls of the coach to be hawked at Verizon Center concession stands. Each one would...

Though the idea of eating fermented foods may sound gross, if you’ve ever had yogurt, kefir, or kimchee, you’ve tried fermented foods. Fermentation is a natural process by which bacteria chemically break down parts of the food, which is great for your health because it is believed that fermented foods are sources of probiotics and support a healthy gut microbiome.

These probiotic, fermented foods help promote the billions of “good” bacteria living in our digestive tract helping us create vitamins, digest food, and prevent infection from viruses and bad bacteria.

Doing your own food fermentation can be easy, fun, and delicious. Start with everyone’s favorite: the pickle. While grocery store pickles get their flavor from vinegar, these pickles get their flavor from the bacteria’s handiwork.

But don’t just stop at cucumbers—any vegetable can be “pickled” this way. Try green beans, peppers, zucchini, or asparagus for a new twist!


1 quart sized jar

Cucumbers (Pickling or mini cucumbers work best because they have fewer seeds.)


3 sprigs of dill

2 gloves of garlic

2 tablespoons pickling spice (or combination of mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaf, and black peppercorn)

Optional: hot pepper or red chili flake for spicy pickles


2 cups filtered water

1 tablespoon sea salt

Onion bulb to keep pickles submerged.


1. Soak cucumbers in cold water. This helps keep them crunchy while they ferment.

2. Clean cucumbers well and cut ends off.

3. Cut cucumbers to desired size. Keep in mind that smaller slices will ferment faster.

4. Pack cucumbers tightly into the jar.

5. Add dill, garlic, and pickling spices.

6. Prepare brine by combining salt and water and mixing to dissolve salt.

7. Pour brine into jar and make sure cucumbers are fully submerged. If not, place onion chunk or clean weight on pickles to hold them down.

8. Make sure to leave about an inch of room in the top of the jar. This is necessary for fermentation to take place.

9. Cover jar and place on countertop for 3 days.

10. Taste a pickle. If you like it, put the jar in the refrigerator to stop the fermenting process. If not, re-cover and taste each day until they are ready.

11. Remove the onion bulb and place in the refrigerator to keep them crunchy and delicious.

12. Once in the refrigerator, don’t worry about keeping them submerged. Enjoy your “probiotic” pickles for up to 6 months.

Rebecca Scritchfield is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and founder of Capitol Nutrition Group in Washington, DC.

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