Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles

Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie
You may have seen my recipe for Crunchy Fermented Dill Pickles. This is my sweet pickle version! Like the dills, I wanted to make lacto-fermented pickles, as opposed to vinegar-based pickles this year because lacto-fermentation makes for super healing foods. These pickles are crunchy and sweet, with just the right combination of zesty, sweet, and saltiness.  
Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles

(Adapted from Donna Schwenk’s Cultured Food Life Recipe)
1 large cucumber = 1 pint.
~1.5 medium cucumbers = 1 pint.

7 medium cucumbers, washed and spines removed
1 medium yellow onion, thinly slivered
½ cup real maple syrup (we like Grade B best for it’s strong maple flavor)
2 tsp Sea Salt (I used Maine Coast Sea Vegetables’ Sea Salt with Sea Vegetables)
¼ cup whey or ½ Caldwell veggie pack

To make whey: Recipe here or let raw milk sit for a week or so on the counter until it separates into curds and whey. Strain through a cheesecloth to get the whey, and add a bit of sea salt to the curds for a delicious food. You can also use kefir whey.

1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp whole celery seeds
½ tbsp whole yellow mustard seeds
Filtered water
1 red raspberry tea bag or loose tea leaves
Glass jars and lids – I used 5 pint jars and standard lids.


Slice the cucumbers into approximately ¼ inch thick slices. Put all the cucumbers into a large bowl and cover with ice and filtered water. Let them soak for about 3 hours. In the refrigerator is best, but I didn’t have room at the time, so mine sat on the counter, covered.

Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Watch out for the spines…ouch!


Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Washed cukes. I love my vegetable brush.


Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Sliced up and ready to soak.

Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie

In the bowl to soak for a few hours.

Mix the syrup, turmeric, and whey together in a bowl. Add the sea salt (any sea salt will do, but I like the added boost of iodine in the sea salt with sea vegetables mix). 

If using the veggie starter instead of whey, follow Donna’s instructions for reviving the Caldwell veggie packet: “add ½ cup of water then add Caldwell veggie culture. Feed it a little sugar to wake it up about 1 tsp and stir till dissolved. The sugar will be consumed quickly by the bacteria cultures, and there is no need to worry about the added sugar.”

I used whey for mine.  Alternatively, you can skip both the Caldwell and the whey and just allow what ever natural bacteria is already on the vegetables to ferment them. This will require a longer time, but can be done.
Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Making whey to use as starter.

Add the onions and celery and mustard seeds. Mix all together well.

After 3 hours in cold water, strain and stuff the pickles into the glass jars. I was able to fit 1 cucumber per pint jar. They should be snug. Divide up the seasoning mix between your jars. Fill to 1 inch from the top with filtered water and try to get all the pickles below the water line. If they are above, they can grow mold, which is harmless and can just be scraped off.

Open 2 red raspberry leaf tea bags and sprinkle them on top of the cucumbers and seasoning. The tea leaves have tannins which are one of the keys to making crisp pickles (the other is the cold water soak). Other leaves that I’ve seen recommended are oak, and grape. Fresh is best, but I couldn’t find any fresh grape leaves at the grocery, I have no oak trees, and when I went to harvest fresh raspberry leaves found that my bush had been decimated by deer. In theory anything with tannins should work though.

Put the lids tightly on the jars and store them all in the coolest room of your house (but not refrigerated) for 3 days.

After 3 days, open the lids to “burp” the jars. They might pop, so don’t be surprised! Tighten the lids again, shake them a bit to stir up the spices, and put them in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process.

They should last refrigerated, for at least 9 months. You may want to burp them once a week or so.

Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie



Check out these other tasty fermented veggie recipes:

Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles Recipe | Musings of a Modern Hippie



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6 comments for “Crunchy Fermented Sweet Pickles

  1. November 28, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I can’t wait to have garden cucumbers again to try this, now that I’m doing a lot more fermenting….it looks SO tasty! Is whey from making yogurt okay, too? I always have yogurt on hand and it’s easy enough to strain some whey out of it…

  2. Chris Hibbert
    July 31, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    You say you like iodine in the sea salt but everything I have heard says that iodine or iodized salt is the enemy of lacto-fermentation. Have you tried it out?

  3. Chris Hibbert
    July 31, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Sorry – I meant have you tried it without (iodine)

    • July 31, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Great question! I believe the key difference is in the source of iodine. Naturally occurring iodine, as found in the sea salt blend that I use, comes from kelp and dulse. It is bound to other minerals in a form that is much more readily used by the body (bioavailable), but is less likely to inhibit bacterial growth in something like our lacto-fermented veggies because it requires gut digestion of the sea veggies to free up the iodine. Iodized table salt contains a “free” form of elemental iodine that can indeed inhibit beneficial bacterial growth, in much the same way that using chlorinated and fluoridated water can as well. In sticking with the naturally occurring, bound mineral sources, you can rest assured your cultures will be nothing but delicious, nutritious, and highly probiotic.

      Thanks for the question!

    • July 14, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      I use pink Himalayan salt in all my ferments with great success. 😀

  4. Heathe
    November 9, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Have you tried this recipe for whole pickles?

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