Make Your Own Bubbies Pickles

By , November 15, 2009

Have you ever had Bubbies? It’s the brand against which all other pickles are judged, at least in our house! My hubby is a huge fan. And if you like garlic, you’ll probably appreciate Bubbies, too. They’re not made with vinegar, but rather are made the old-fashioned way, though lacto-fermentation in brine.

So for my very first attempt at homemade pickles, I turned the Bubbies jar upside down, identified which spices were in there, selected what looked like a good lacto-fermented pickle recipe, and hoped for the best as I sacrificed a couple of humongous garden cucumbers for the Great Pickle Experiment.

The results were shocking…in that I was shocked I had made something so tasty and convincing on the very first try. I certainly had expected the worst. In fact, I thought Hubby was being sarcastic when he tried the first one and told me they were awesome. He couldn’t stop talking about them! I was skeptical until I tried one, too. YO! Later, I did a taste test of my pickles compared to Bubbies; I actually liked mine even better! In the photo above, I used my large garden cucumbers, but to get the true Bubbies experience, go for the really small cukes; I find these at the farmer’s market, or at ethnic grocery stores. Go for organic if you can (which would be an upgrade from Bubbies, since theirs aren’t organic). Of course the really big cucumbers are fine to use, but because of their size, their insides won’t be quite as firm and crunchy as a smaller cucumber would be, and their skin will be a little tougher.

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Lindsey’s Bubbies Pickle Recipe:

1 gallon glass jar or ceramic crock

1/2 a gallon of warm water (tap water is fine)

A handful of fresh, clean grape leaves, oak leaves, or cherry leaves (optional — they supply tannins to keep the pickles crunchy) (UPDATE: raspberry & blackberry leaves work too, but have a stronger flavor than grape leaves)

3-4 lbs of cucumbers (small to medium is ideal, but if all you have is large, cut them into spears)

5-6 Tbsp non-iodized sea salt. I use Redmond RealSalt brand unrefined sea salt. (I usually prefer 6 Tbsp. Using 5 Tbsp of salt will yield a less salty pickle that my hubby prefers, however you may have to contend with more white film, or “kahm yeast,” on the surface of the brine during fermentation. More about kahm yeast in the instructions.)

2 – 3 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, & roughly chopped

3 Tbsp whole dill seed

2 Tbsp whole coriander seed

1 tsp whole mustard seed (brown or yellow, doesn’t matter)

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

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Ingredients for Homemade Bubbie's Pickles

Ingredients for Homemade Bubbies Pickles. My homegrown garlic was a little small, so I used 4 heads.

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Directions:

Rinse the cucumbers, making sure the blossoms are removed. Soak them in very cold water for a couple hours (if they’re not straight off the vine).

In a separate clean jar (not the one you’ll be using for the pickles), dissolve the salt into the 1/2 gallon of warm water. Set aside — this brine will be one of the last things you’ll add.

Into the clean, gallon jar/crock you’ll be using for the pickles, drop in the garlic, dill, coriander, mustard, peppercorns, fennel, and red pepper flakes.

Then, put the cucumbers into the jar. If you’ve sliced large cucumbers into spears, pack the spears vertically into the jar.

Pour the salt water solution (a.k.a. the brine) over the cucumbers.

Now, place the cleaned grape/oak/cherry/raspberry/blackberry leaves into the jar. My jar has a somewhat narrow mouth, so the grape leaves form a nice plug at the top of the jar so the cucumbers (which will rise to the top after you pack them in) don’t go above the brine.

You want your cucumbers (and leaves) to be completely submerged in the brine at all times. If they’re sticking up above the brine, they’ll get moldy. If your jar has a wide mouth, you may need to use a couple of plates to keep everything submerged. Another idea is to nest a smaller glass jar into the opening of the larger jar to keep everything down. Or, use a scrubbed & sterilized rock.

Using nested jars to keep everything submerged.

Another idea: use a rock to keep everything submerged.

If the brine still doesn’t cover the cucumbers, make more brine solution using: 1 scant Tbsp sea salt to one cup of water. Cover your jar with its lid (loosely), or with a cloth to keep bugs & dust out. If you see a thin film of white scum growing on the surface of the water, just skim it off as often as you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. This is “kahm yeast;” it won’t harm anything, but do try to keep up with it otherwise it can affect the flavor of your pickles.

Sometimes, during pickle making, some of your garlic cloves will turn blue. This is not a problem. The Colorado Extension Service website says this about blue garlic:

Blue, purple or blue-green garlic may result from immature garlic or garlic that is not fully dry, from copper pans, or from a high amount of copper in the water. Garlic contains anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that under acid conditions may turn blue or purple. A blue-green color also may develop in pickles made with stored red-skinned garlic. Except for blue-green color resulting from an abnormally high copper-sulfate concentration, such color changes do not indicate the presence of harmful substances.

Your pickles will be ready after 1-4 weeks — depending on the temperature in your house. Our pickles are usually ready after 10 days on the counter in our warm apartment (average of 80-85°F) in late summer. Every couple days, do a taste test of your pickles. They’re ready when they taste done to you! Once they taste done, transfer the jar into the fridge to slow fermentation. Once they’ve fermented and are in the fridge, you can remove the grape/oak/cherry/raspberry/blackberry leaves and you don’t need to worry as much about the pickles being completely submerged in the brine.

Enjoy! These will last months and months in your fridge. I once kept a batch around for 9 months and it was still good.

And the brine is good stuff too; I like to drink it straight. It’s full of beneficial bacteria and good for your digestion! Since it’s salty, it would be especially good after a workout.

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Related posts:

  1. How to Make Sauerkraut
  2. Are Bubbies Products Raw?
  3. How to Make Sauerruben
  4. Make Your Own Pickled Grape Leaves

142 Responses to “Make Your Own Bubbies Pickles”

  1. Lindsey says:

    Hi Sher,
    As long as they’re not poison oak you’ll be good to go :)
    Never tried oak leaves myself, so not sure how much flavor they will impart; nice thing about grape is that they don’t impart much flavor.
    Good luck!

  2. Hanna says:

    Hi Lindsey,

    So I’m going on day 7 and tried a pickle today. Not good. Just worried, never fermented pickles this way. Followed recipe, kept up with foam and yeast. Should I wait for full 10 days to 2 weeks before I see full result??

  3. Lindsey says:

    Hi Hanna,
    Yes, I’d wait longer; I’ve noticed that fermented products (like sauerkraut) often go through an in-between period where they taste terrible. Then once they’re further along in the fermentation process they begin tasting like you’d expect. Wait longer and see how ya go. It may even take longer than two weeks.
    Good luck!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Hi Aaron,
    The dried dill weed might be the culprit — floating to the top of the brine and providing a convenient platform for mold. I’d scrape off the mold and allow the fermentation to continue. Ultimately you’ll have to be the judge of whether this batch is edible, or toss-worthy.

    Best of luck!

  5. Lauren says:

    Hi Lindsey -
    I put together this recipe 4 days ago, in a crock (small one – #1). I followed the recipe and used 6 spoons of salt as I tend to like things salty. They are completely submerged and only yesterday I began to see some foam floating to the top – mostly bubbles. Today I tried a taste and found that they are VERY salty. And mushy. I didn’t have the grape leaf until 2 days into the process – could that be the mushy problem? Is it too late to try (or would I?) some calcium chloride? And finally, is there any way to tone down the saltiness? Thanks so much! I can hardly wait to be able to create these at home whenever I want them. Yum! Oh, and by the way, the brine seems very dark.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Hi Lauren,
    Good questions that I don’t really have the answers to!
    I’m a salt fiend too. The saltiess tends to mellow in fermentations, I notice. It may or may not for you. Four days is still young for this recipe, so I’d let it go another week and then re-assess. However if you’re sensing that it is just way too salty, I’d re-make some of the brine using half the salt… then take out some existing brine, and add in the new stuff to hopefully balance out the level of saltiness. Up to you. :) Bubbles on top is normal. Mushy… not sure about that one, if calcium chloride would be a wise choice or not. You could remove some of the pickles and brine into a smaller, separate jar and add a bit of calcium chloride as an experiment.
    Are the cucumbers you used quite large? If so, that could be part of the mushy problem. Large ones tend to do that more readily than small ones.
    Who knows. It may take one or two batches of experimentation. :)
    Dark brine… hmm, I’m not sure! I’m sorry!
    Best of luck,
    Lindsey

  7. [...] My article on the health benefits of lactofermentation and why it’s better than vinegar  is coming shortly, but for now enjoy this amazing pickle recipe my husband found at this link: Herbangarder Blog Pickle Recipe. [...]

  8. hila says:

    Hello, great recipe!
    Just wanted to let you know I reposted your recipe on my site and gave you credit…we used it last summer and loved the pickles; this year with a bit of drought in Milwaukee we didn’t have a great crop but still loved your recipe. Thank you! Our site is new and I’m in the process of building it up, but your link is live at: http://www.refuashaguf.com/fermented-pickles/
    Your photos are beautiful too!

  9. rachel says:

    Did you use pickling cucumbers or just regular ones?

  10. Lindsey says:

    Rachel – either type will work

  11. [...] when i found a website with a recipe that mimics bubbie’s pickles! you can find the original here at the herbangardener. as soon as i had the time i biked myself down to saturday market and picked [...]

  12. Dashka says:

    Great, great, great recipes and the whole philosophy! Thank you for sharing all this. You started a fermented food pandemic among my friends because they tried pickles I made following you recipe. Was afraid 20 glass jars will be too much to eat, but now think they won’t survive until Christmas. Thank you!

  13. Lauren says:

    Hi Lindsey! Well I took your advice and didn’t can the “Bubbies” recipe but instead (in September), put them in the frig, capped with brine over the pickles. It’s taken me this long to finish the first bottle (1/2 gallon), so I went downstairs for a 2nd. I found that one of the bottle’s brine is light brown, foggy. Smells ok but it doesn’t look like the others. Do you know why this happened? When I bottled them, this was the last bottle – a 1/2 gal. that wasn’t full. The brine and pickles come half way up the jar. I capped it like the others and put it in the frig.
    Just wondering…
    Thanks!
    Lauren

  14. [...] supply of sauerkraut in the fridge, and occasional forays into lacto-fermented jalapenos, salsa, pickles, dilly beans and [...]

  15. bob. says:

    I am ferminting the bubbies knockoff pickles. Smell great but brine is dark. I live high in the Rockies and our water is very acid. Could this be a cause?

  16. Lindsey says:

    Hey Bob,
    Wow, I have no idea about the dark brine and acidic water. I’d go by smell more than color. If it’s bad, it won’t smell right. Hopefully by now you’re enjoying delicious pickles….
    Happy New Year!

    Lindsey

  17. Dave says:

    Hi Lindsey. Thought I would let you know I did some of these a few back. But its not summer here in TN..No leaves :) Got to checking around and found out tea bags are good for tannin. Put four gallon size Red Rose in and it worked like a charm. No tea taste and they are as good as the ones we made last summer. Maybe even a little more crunchy. Thanks for the recipe

  18. Lindsey says:

    Dave, what a fantastic idea!!! Thank you so much for letting me know about this :)

  19. jonni jones says:

    Oh, I love the tea bag idea! Thank you Dave. And you Lindsay…what a wonderful recipe!!!

  20. Indigo says:

    Lindsay, I’ve been using your recipe for about 3 years now and loving it, thank you so much. It’s great to know that I can have a great pickle any time I want. From time to time my pickles have also turned mushy, and here’s what I’ve found through internet research — no need to throw away mushy pickles unless you notice the smell is off or something about them is clearly bad. They may be unpleasant to eat as a side dish, but just pulse a few times in the food processor and voila, GREAT RELISH! Thanks again for your creativity.

  21. Marcus says:

    Yummm. I love Bubbie’s so I would probably worship these. Thanks for the inspiration… I’ll try my own batch. Maybe.

  22. Hannah Y. says:

    Hello, I was wondering if muskadine grape leaves would work? I have never used grape leaves before and we just moved to a place that has a muskadine grape arbor and so I would like to try using grape leaves to keep them crunchy, if the muskadine will work.

  23. Caryn says:

    Hi – I just followed your recipe and set up a crock of cucumbers to pickle. There has been an orange substance forming on the outside of the crock. Any idea what this is and is it something to be concerned about?

  24. Elizabeth H says:

    I think I know the answer to this, but I am going to ask anyway. I took the muzlin off the top of my jars, today should have been the day they were done, and there is mold and fruit flies on the top of the leaves. Pitch and start again, or skim and keep?

  25. John potter says:

    lindsay, It’s a great recipe, my friends just love my pickle’s, lets get dill pickled. Raspberry leaves add a neat flavor too. The cukes I buy have been organic and right out of the field and into the brine. cheers from the great north west!

  26. If you can use a Jar that absolutely keeps the oxygen out, you can lower your salt by 30%, and not deal with foaming and yeasty scum at all.

    Also, it’s critical to use a flouride and chlorine free water for the brine, since those both kill LABs. Also, the cukes must be pesticide free and non-irradiated, or they won’t ferment.

    We’re able to do harvest to harvest preservation of our cukes this way! :)

  27. [...] were much too salty and not pickled all the way through. I was at a lost of what to do. This recipe just sounded so amazing. I spent money on the supplies, and gosh darn! I wanted some [...]

  28. [...] and very yummy pickles.  If you want to make yours really taste like Bubbie’s Pickles, try this copycat recipe.  I made some last year that lasted for a  long time in the refrigerator and even stayed crunchy, [...]

  29. Mike says:

    Can someone elaborate on the Tea bag idea? What kind of tea? Just regular black tea? I have some brewing now, really want them to be crunchy

  30. Patrick says:

    I guess this is for Dave but if anyone else knows it would be a great help.
    When using the tea bags do you use fresh ones or used and how many for single batch of pickles.
    Thanks for the help

  31. Amy says:

    I’ve had this recipe for a few years now and have cut it down to do a quart at a time, adjusting a few of the spices too. Very tasty. I am letting this batch sit longer than 7 days, as the last batch was pretty salty and I’m hoping the further ferment will tone it down.

  32. Lindsey says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Boy I’m not sure the answer to your question, but I’d use new teabags, as the tannins in them would then still be there (and not leached out into the previous cup of tea). I wish I had a more complete answer to your question.
    Best of luck, and if you do try this method would you leave a comment here letting us know how ya go?
    Thanks!!!
    Lindsey

  33. Lindsey says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for your comment! While I have read that fluoride and chlorine free water is ideal — and I agree that it is certainly healthier for our bodies — my experience is that it is not a critical factor in pickle fermentation, or any fermentation for that matter. I have had nothing but successes with our fluoridated, chlorinated city water.
    Whether fluoridated, chlorinated city water is healthy for our bodies, now that is another matter altogether :)

  34. Lindsey says:

    Elizabeth… ooo that’s a hard one. By now you’ve made the decision I’m sure. Only you can decide, I think…. though if the problem wasn’t bad, sometimes the pickles underneath will taste fine.

  35. Lindsey says:

    Hannah – yes, those leaves would work.

  36. Robyn says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! It only took 3 weeks for my pickles to reach completion for me. They have wonderful crunch and flavor. I added two large head of immature dill(had not gone to seed) for the flavor I like as well as the spices you suggested. Great flavor! I have given away lots of quarts and everyone loves them and has asked me for the recipe. I have passed this along to many of my friends. Thanks again!

  37. Lindsey says:

    Robyn, Wonderful! I’m glad the pickles turned out well and that everyone loves them! :-D

  38. Lisa says:

    Wonderful Recipe. My pickles took 4 weeks. I may let them sit one more just to get a bit more tang. Love them!

  39. stephanie says:

    I love bubbies, but I moved from minneapolis to rural montana and they aren’t sold anywhere out here. I am excited to try the recipie. wish me luck!

  40. Lisa says:

    All I can say is “OMG!, these are good!”. Mine took 6 weeks to finish. Well worth the wait.

  41. stephanie says:

    Well, I just made my first batch! I can not wait the few weeks till they are done! A question though, I didn’t have a gallon jar so I used a large glass vase. It has a really wide opening so I used some rocks to push everything down, then I put a plate over it and a clean dish towel over the plate. Should they be alright? Or should I go and buy a large canning jar?

  42. Lindsey says:

    Stephanie,
    Your guess is as good as mine regarding the vase. Should be okay if stuff stays submerged. Best of luck!! I hope they turn out awesome.

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