Waiting to eat them is the hardest part about making these simple fermented pickled zukes.
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

For pickles that deliver good gut bacteria, you want fermented—not vinegar—pickles. The brine is the easiest way to spot the difference: If it’s cloudy, they’re fermented; a clear brine means they’re pickled. You can also check the ingredients. For milder spice, remove the chile seeds and membranes. This recipe also works for green beans, pickling cukes, and baby bell peppers. Here's how we make zingy zucchini pickles in three easy steps.

1. Combine aromatics.

Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

The items you use along with the zucchini transfer their flavors through the pickling liquid. In this batch, we use pungent garlic; floral coriander; spicy chiles; and sweet, grassy fresh dill. We find baby zucchini stays crisper than sliced spears of large zucchini when fermented.

Sweet grapes get a hint of tang and spice from a gentle pickle. 

2. Cover with brine.

Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Cover the solid ingredients with the salted water. From here, the ingredients do the rest of the work as the brine solution slowly ferments the vegetables. Cover the solids completely with the brine so they can ferment evenly and aren’t exposed to air.

3. Wait for bubbles.

Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

The liquid in the covered jars will start to cloud after a day or so once the fermentation process begins and microbes devour the veggie sugar, creating acid and gas. After about five days, the liquid develops bubbles. Loosely lidded jars allow pressure from gas buildup to escape.