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Whats the difference between fermenting and pickling?

Posted by Rina Veltkamp on

In an age where fermentation and preserving the old school way are hot topics. I thought it would be a good time to address the question i get asked on a regular basics. 

This question being what is ( The difference between fermented pickles vs just regular buy at the store dill pickles?) 

 fermented food has been preserved and transformed by benign bacteria. Usually, that means that the sugars and carbohydrates present in the food have been eaten by the good bacteria (often lactic acid bacteria). The bacteria then convert that sugar into other substances, like acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol. Those substances, in term, preserve the food (and add to its flavor). So when you eat, say, kimchi, you consume the flourishing colony of good bacteria that has preserved the cabbage for you.



Where your store bought pickles are brined in a vinegar mixture with spices. Most of the time heat treated at a high temp destroying all good and bad bacteria and vitamins.  This is what makes them shelf stable. 


Which brings me to a second difference between fermentation and regular pickles,  Regular pickles that you buy at the store are shelf stable till you crack the seal. Were fermented pickles are shelf stable as well but will change there flavor as they ferment longer. Sometimes this flavor will not be favorable to some taste buds but the pickle itself will not go bad.   

The third and too me the biggest difference is live food vs dead food. The pickles you buy at the store are heat treated to make them shelf stable. Which is an amazing way our ancestors used to preserve their food when they had no refrigeration.  I love the flavor of a dill pickle the problem is that you have to boil it to make it safe for shelf storage. Killing all good and bad bacteria and nutrients along the way, 


Wheres fermented pickles are shelf stable but will change their flavor if they sit at room temperatures too long. Its best to let them sit out and go through there fermentation process but once you enjoy the flavor to put them in fridge as this slows down there fermentation process. We get the sour taste in fermented pickles from lactic acid. The beautiful thing is bad bacteria cant live in a low PH setting. With fermented pickles we also get probiotics which feed our guts.  


 Which is something we can all use more of.


Much love Moss Mama




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