Can You Pickle Without Vinegar? Options and Methods Explained.

Yes, you can. It is through a process known as lacto-fermentation. Here’s a quick guide on what it is and how to pickle without vinegar.

As strange as that might sound, traditional pickling involves allowing vegetables to ferment naturally in brine – a process known as lacto-fermentation.

What is Lacto-fermentation?

Pickles With No Vinegar

This process of lactic acid fermentation is part science and part art. It’s the way our grandmothers and their grandmothers used to make homemade pickles. Think yoghurt, cheese, alcohol, soy sauce, and kimchi – all these are fermented and traditional foods.

For lacto-fermentation, vegetables are steeped in a sanitary and dechlorinated solution of water and salt (brine). During the process of lacto-fermentation, the bacteria and yeast present in the air and on the veggies work with the brine to ferment the vegetables. Carbohydrates and sugars break down to form lactic acid and alcohol. As fermentation occurs, you will notice bubbles forming in the liquid. The longer you allow your vegetables to ferment, the stronger the flavor.

Basic Traditional Recipe For Pickles With No Vinegar

  1. Rinse the vegetables. Scrub them gently to remove any dirt. Remove the skin of root vegetables. Leave on the skin of cucumbers.
  2. Fill the pickling jar with your choice of prepared vegetables and spices.
  3. Dissolve salt in filtered water to make a very salty solution.
  4. Top up the jar of veggies with the salt solution. Make sure all the vegetables are submerged.
  5. Set a clean plate on the veggies to ensure they remain submerged.
  6. Cover the jar.
  7. Leave the jar to rest at room temperature for a week or up to four weeks.
  8. Store in the fridge or in a cool area such as your root cellar to slow down the fermentation process.

Benefits Of Lacto-fermentation: Why Make Your Own

1. Vegetables in vinegar are not really pickles

Pickles were initially fermented, and although vinegar has been used as a preservative for centuries, pickles in vinegar are quite untraditional and modern.

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2. Fermented veggies are a healthier option

Pickles with no vinegar that are made at home by lacto-fermenting vegetables, are bursting with vitamin B. They also have increased protein content but reduced carbohydrate levels, thanks to the enzymes and bacteria they contain.

By the end of the traditional pickling process, pickles are probiotic foods – full of good lactobacillus bacteria and provide the same benefits as other probiotic foods, like;

  • Better gut health
  • Less bad bacteria
  • Better immune system
  • Better mental health

3. Make use of excess vegetables

Have a bumper harvest of vegetables? Simply pickle them the traditional way! Continue reading to discover what you can pickle and how to pickle without vinegar.

4. Expand your repertoire as a pickle aficionado

Learn something new every time you use the traditional method of pickling. Learn how to combine different spices, herbs, and vegetables and impress your family and friends with new and flavorful pickles.

What You Can Pickle Without Vinegar

Pickling the traditional way is way easy. You can pickle any of your favorite vegetables – the sky is the limit. All you need to do is let your veggies sit in brine made with filtered water (unfiltered water can contain minerals and chlorine that might affect the pickling process). The best veggies are part of your regular diet – staples and vegetables that grow around you. Here are some fantastic foods that pickle with no vinegar;

  • Seasonal garden vegetables like cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, turnips, celery, beets, and pickling cucumbers
  • Whole grains, seeds, nuts, and brown rice
  • Fruit

How To Prepare Pickling Jars

Method 1: Fill the pickling jars with boiling water, letting them sit for a couple of minutes to kill all the bacteria and organisms. Pour out the water. Leave in the sun to dry completely.

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Method 2: Submerge your jars in a large pot of water and bring them to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Then, remove the jars carefully and empty them. Sterilize the rings and caps along with the jars or separately.

How To Pickle Without Vinegar

How To Pickle Without Vinegar – Dill Pickled Cucumbers Recipe

(to make one quart – approx. 950ml)


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (two tablespoons of salt for every quart of filtered water)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spices (think black pepper, red pepper flakes, and jalapeno peppers)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 quart small pickling cucumbers (four to six inches long), washed and with the skin on.
  • 1 to 2 heads of fresh green dill seed
  • 1 quart filtered water at room temperature


  1. Mix the salt with the filtered water to make a brine solution.
  2. Put the spices and garlic in the bottom of a sterilized jar. You can also add horseradish or a grape to keep the vegetables crisp.
  3. Add the cucumbers and some dill. Pack them as tight as possible into the jar, leaving about two to four inches of headroom.
  4. Fill the jar with the brine. The vegetables should be covered by at least an inch or two.
  5. You can place a sterilized plate or any type of weight over the vegetables to ensure they remain submerged.
  6. Place the cap on lightly for the first 24 hours and then tighten.
  7. Store the pickling jar in a cool and dark place at room temperature. Place on a newspaper in case of a leak during the fermentation process.

Note: Carbon dioxide is released during the early stages of the fermentation process. Check the jar once or twice a day to see if the lid is building up pressure. You might need to quickly and carefully “burp” your jar by carefully unscrewing the lid a tiny bit to allow a small amount of gas to escape. Then, quickly screw on the lid tightly.

How Long To Ferment Vegetables

Some vegetables begin to ferment as quickly as a week, while others need a bit longer. This can also depend on the season and the weather conditions. After a week, taste the pickle to see if it has fermented enough. The longer you allow your pickles to ferment, the stronger the flavor. You can allow your pickles to ferment for even up to four weeks.

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How To Store Pickles

Once the vegetables have fermented for as long as you want (the longer they ferment, the more sour they become), you can place the pickle in the same jar in the fridge. Placing the jar in the fridge will stop the fermentation process. Although not cooked or canned, homemade pickles with no vinegar can stay for several months in the fridge without losing their crunchiness.

Best Store-bought Pickles Without

How To Pickle Without Salt

Salt provides a suitable environment during the pickling process for the growth of lactic acid bacteria. But that does not mean you cannot pickle without salt. You can use any fresh-pack pickle recipe that uses more vinegar than water. However, ensure the end product consists of at least a quarter cup of 5% acid vinegar for every pint jar of pickled product.

Can You Pickle Without Vinegar Summary

There’s nothing wrong with pickles made with vinegar – but they are not what your grandmother or great-grandmother made. Now that you know what a traditional pickle is, why not make a batch of traditional pickles using your favorite vegetables? We’ve provided you with all the useful information you need on how to pickle without vinegar.

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Eve MayHew

Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to her lifestyle. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)