Thai Pickles

 In Cooking, Fermented foods, Gut health, Healthy eating, Urban homesteading

A few weeks ago, the first little pickling cucumbers of the season appeared in my garden. I have been waiting (im)patiently for them since last December when I ate the last pickle from the previous summer’s crop. It was a sad, dark day, that.

I’m not talking about those limp, overly-tart, vinegar- and heat-treated pickles either. No, I am talking about true fermented  pickles. If you’ve had them, you know why my winter was all the more bleak (Yes, I know I live in California where the winters are far from harsh but I repeat: I WAS OUT OF PICKLES!). If you have not experienced “real” pickles, we must remedy this, stat (follow the recipe below and everything will be OK).

It was this long-ass, pickle-less winter and spring that induced near giddiness when I found three little cukes in my garden just begging to be bathed in brine. I knew as I plucked them from the vine that they were destined for something special, something different. These pickles were going Thai.

I wandered the garden for provisions and came back to the house with purple-skinned carrots, kaffir lime leaves, a few stalks of lemongrass, and a handful of cilantro. I knew the tiny Thai chiles and ginger were waiting in my pantry, eager to be pressed into service.


The assembled provisions

I prepared and cooled the brine (I put mine in an ice bath to rapidly bring down the temperature), chopped the vegetables, and packed everything into a jar in under 10 minutes. And then, I waited. For 10 days. I waited.


Now the waiting begins!

The results: They were delicious; infused with Thai aromatics and just a touch of heat from the chiles. The purple-skinned carrots gave my brine a pretty pink tint at the end. The kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass provided those distinctively Thai notes that the cilantro and ginger helped to boost.

In my next batch, I think I will increase the number of chiles used as I wanted them to have a bit more heat.

The carrots still have quite a bit of crunch to them and I plan on using a few of them, finely minced, in a Thai-style sardine salad with lime juice, fresh cilantro and mint, a squeeze of ginger juice, and a dollop of mayonnaise swirled with Sriracha. Small scoops of that, served atop rice crackers (and a Thai pickle of two on the side) will make for a lunch packed with probiotics, omega 3s, and, best of all, flavor!

At this point, my cucumber vines are ramping up to full production. In fact, earlier this week, I started a gallon of traditional dill pickles and will likely need to take a trip down to my root cellar to bring up my 2-gallon jar before too long. This year I hope to be in pickles until well past Christmas. A girl can hope, right?

And while I do love a good dill pickle, this experiment with Thai aromatics makes me want to declare an end to dill’s hegemony in the pickle realm. Join me, won’t you? What would (or have) you used to season your pickles? Share a recipe (or two), please!

Thai Pickles


Yield 1 1/2 pints


10 minutes


10 minutes

  • 3 pickling cucumbers, cut into 1-2″-thick chunks
  • 2-3 small carrots, sliced into disks
  • 4 -5″ stalk of lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 7-8 dried Thai chiles
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 4 slices of peeled ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt (coarse ground)
  • Equipment: 1 1/2-pint Ball jar, 1 Kraut Source (or other device for keeping vegetables submerged)

  1. Bring 2 cups of filtered water to a boil. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Pack all remaining ingredients into the jar (leaving 1″ of headspace).
  3. Add enough brine to completely cover the vegetables.
  4. Use a screw band to hold your Kraut Source in place, fill the moat, and add the airlock cap.
  5. Wait (im)patiently for 7 – 10 days.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Nathalie Ouellet

    OMG that looks delicious!!!! You make me drool. I’m going to try this recipe – I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    • Stacey Clinesmith

      Nathalie, Yes, please let me know how yours turn out! They are drool-worthy, IMHO.

  • Debbie Sultan

    I want to skip farmer’s market and head to your garden then your kitchen to ferment all those goodies!

    • Stacey Clinesmith

      Debbie, Come on down! Soon I will be so overwhelmed with garden produce that I will welcome foragers!

  • Ceri Jones

    I made dill pickles once, but these look way better. I wish I had the motivation for fermentation, and fresh vegetables from a garden to use too – so good!

    • Stacey Clinesmith

      Ceri, I do have a garden full of veggie delights but it is a lot of work and sometimes I wonder (particularly when gardening on really hot days), “Why don’t I just get all this at the farmers’ market?” I have a fermentation recipe coming up this week that I’m betting you’ll want to try! More soon…

  • melanie

    I have a Kraut Source and haven’t used it yet. Can’t wait to try this!

    • Stacey Clinesmith

      Melanie, Let me know how you like them once you give them a try. Summer is the perfect time to break in your new Kraut Source!

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