Basic Pickle Technique


Daikon Radish. Fresh, with bright green leaves. You could use carrots, kohlrabi, or another radish instead. Or mustard greens. Or kale. Follow the instructions in this recipe.

People have been fermenting and preserving food for at least 4,000 years. What tends to be forgotten is that preservation and fermentation methods almost always grew from a need to survive during periods of time – usually a change of seasons – when there was no fresh food available for months. 

This pickle is incredibly hard to keep down – as far as smell goes, anyway. An air lock that allows release of gas (carbon dioxide) is very useful at the start, as is wrapping it in several bags when refrigerating, but it will most likely smell anyway.

There are sulfur containing compounds in many of the ingredients and they tend to smell when they are broken down during the fermentation process.

If this is your first fermentation journey put a bowl under your pickles, or something that can catch potential spill over.

When ferments are still alive and unpasteurized, you get all the prebiotic and probiotic benefits including lots of vitamins and minerals. They are usually easier to digest, and tastier.

A temperature of 72F is usually a good temperature to keep your ferments under. Lower than that, and they will take longer.

This does not contain any koji or a starter culture other than the sourdough starter. It really depends on bacteria to make it sour and protect it. We’ll have hundreds of recipes that use koji and other cultures as we go along.

Try this and see if it serves as a good go to recipe for anything fresh you see at the market, or grow. Be aware of how the water or juice content changes.

This will become very important if you ever decide to start adding fermented shrimp, raw fish, or other high protein ingredients with another recipe, and making longer ferments.

Those ingredients may not have enough salt in them, so you would need to increase the salt in your recipe one way or another, and watch how it affects the water content and movement in your ferment.

Then again, salt can affect the enzymes in your ferment and that can spell disaster over time. For now, keep things clean and follow the recipe for this type of pickle.

Weighing your ingredients using grams as the basic measurement will avoid a world of regret and sorry. This is a fact.


Fast, Simple, Tasty Kimchi using sourdough starter throwaway

Sautéed Fermented Garlic. For this recipe you cold also steam it, but you should cook it.

  • 950 grams radish (3 medium sized) with stems, or another vegetable
  • 32 grams fresh ginger (organic, candied ginger also works very well)
  • 2 TB dried red pepper (or another mild pepper or 2 tsp good turmeric)
  • 62 grams or 4TB coarse sea salt. Use 1/2 the weight/2TB if using fine salt that doesn’t have anti-caking agents or added chemicals.
  • 62 grams peeled and de-stemmed garlic (fresh or pickled)
  • 104 grams or 1/2 cup wheat sourdough starter (rice paste or another starch if not available)
  • 1 TB sugar or dried fruits or diced apple or pear (optional)
  • 2 TB Fish sauce or fruit juice or kombu flakes or tamari (optional)

We first salted down our daikon radish (see salt amount above). After an hour, strain the liquid off, but save it. If this were cabbage, you would now rinse it very well and squeeze it out or let drip off. You would do the same with any greens, and things like zucchini or cucumbers as well.

Because we only put a quarter cup of salt (62 grams) on this amount of radishes, and we are going to ferment this with fish sauce – you don’t have to put fish sauce in here, and could replace it with seaweed or soy sauce – you don’t need to rinse anything off. An easier, yet still very tasty pickle.


Sautéed daikon greens, garlic and ginger

We sautéed the radish greens, garlic and ginger in 3 to 4 TB of rice bran oil. Use what oil you prefer, but a bland one. You could also use water.

Cool this mixture down before adding to the sourdough starter that has been mixed with the salty radish water you had left over from the hour long soak that released at least a cup of liquid.


Leftover sourdough starter that has been slow fermenting at 40F for 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Makes great pastas, and bread. Mix with other ingredients for the fastest gnocchi or dumplings you’ve ever made. Or use leftover baked potatoes or another starch.

The starch feeds the yeast and bacteria while your pickle becomes tasty and sourer over time. You could add a few pitted dates or sugar for the same reason if you like.

As the sugars are eaten bacteria known as lacto-bacteria (LAB) are produced. This lowers the PH, protecting your ferment from other microbes that are not invited.


Ingredients ready to be assembled.

We used 2 TB of Red Boat 40% because we had that much left in a bottle. You can use any fish sauce you want, or none at all. We also decided to add 2 tablespoon of red pepper.

Typically we’ll use fresh Holland red peppers, but the dried flakes that are sometimes caled Dutch chiles, might be easier to source. These are much milder than the cayenne peppers from which they were bred. By the Dutch, obviously. They are called gochugaru in Korean.

Some people are intolerant to pepper so be careful how much you use, and how you handle any pepper. Some people can’t even smell them without having an adverse (allergic) reaction.



Gloves are always a good idea, and a good habit to get into. Don’t ever touch your eyes, or other parts of your body if you think you may have gotten any juice on them.

Wash your gloves as you go along, and watch out for seeds. The seeds of hot peppers tend to be really hot.


No air lock because this was already finished, and was refrigerated.

This ferment should be done in five or six days. You can eat it when you like the taste. Keep it under the juices (also called the brine). Kimchi is one of those ferments we like to press down to remove air pockets that could rapidly spoil it. That’s also why it has to be under the brine.

Don’t stick unwashed or used utensils in a ferment to taste it, ever. You can ferment this or up to a month but eat it as soon as possible after that, even if refrigerated. This is not the kind of pickle that ages very well.

This is one of our favorite and easiest things to make because you have a really good pickle you could eat right away, or let ferment, pressed down under and under air lock for up to a month. It doesn’t even need refrigeration.


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