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LH 153: Fermentation Basics & Real Pickles

LH 153: How to make real, old-fashioned pickles

Summer is here and homegrown cucumbers are ripening on the vine. Let’s make REAL pickles!

What is a “real” pickle?

It’s where you use natural fermentation (and NO vinegar) to change a cucumber into a crisp, sour treat. They are delicious and nutritious!

My chief fermentation instructor inside my Living Homegrown Institute, Karen Diggs, is here to show us how.

You will learn:

  • Why fermented food is so good for you
  • How to jimmy-rig common kitchen tools as your vessel
  • Why fermentation is so safe
  • Which type of salt is best
  • The secret ingredient that will give you a crisp pickle
  • How to store your finished pickles
  • And MUCH more…


Karen Diggs:Karen Digs of Kraut Source

Karen is a certified nutritionist, chef, and food writer.

She teaches nutrition and culinary classes at Bauman College in Berkley, CA and is also the founder of Kraut Source. The Kraut Source is a cool fermentation device that sits on an ordinary mason jar and lets you ferment in small batches.

And Karen teaches all the fermentation classes inside our monthly membership: The Living Homegrown Institute


Real Pickles Recipe:

Download Karen’s recipe for real pickles and ferment like a pro. I know you’ll love it.


Resources & Links Mentioned:

Kraut Source – Tool to make fermentation easy!

Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber (look like watermelons) – from Baker Seeds

Pickling Cucumber ‘Endeavor’ – Renee’s Garden Seeds


Related Episodes:

Fermenting Food 101

Fiery & Spicy Ferments



Click here for the full transcript for Episode #153

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • Sharon says:

    I really enjoyed this episode and the clear instructions on how to make real pickles. I have a question about washing the vegetables or fruit. Will rinsing them first also rinse off the bacteria that enable fermentation? Than you!

    • theresa says:

      Great question Sharon. The answer is that a general rise will not take away all of the bacteria. You only need a tiny, tiny bit of bacteria to get the fermentation process going. When you rinse, you are NOT scrubbing the veggie in hot soapy water. You are only rinsing and rubbing the veggie with your hands. It would be impossible to take away every speck of bacteria. So you really are not removing all the beneficial bacteria when you rinse.

  • Marcie J says:

    Another great episode! I’ve made the lemon dill sauerkraut that Kristen Shockey spoke about on your podcast (episode 109) and a “fiery ferment” is next on my list to try. But right now this episode with Karen Diggs came at a perfect time. I have a quart jar filled with my garden cucumbers just starting to ferment on my counter. I loved Karen’s use of tea leaves so I used an organic green tea in mine. Thank you for sharing! Next on my list is what to do with the glut of cherry tomatoes that will be coming in very soon!

  • Verity says:

    I loved this episode. One question. Let’s say I had an abundance of cucumbers and fermented a dozen jars with that pickle recipe…. but I don’t have the fridge space for all the jars. Could I can those jars for room temperature storage? If so, would that compromise the taste or the beneficial probiotics and digestive enzymes? Thanks!

    • theresa says:

      Yes, you can “can” the pickles. But it WILL affect the texture and the canning process will kill all of the beneficial probiotics. Sorry about that.

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