One of the most palatable ways to get fermented vegetables in your diet, I’ve found, is through dill pickles – they’re already a familiar food to most of us.
I use whey to kick-start my ferment
– the kind you get when you strain yogurt. (Homemade or store-bought yogurt is fine, as long as it has live cultures.) Whey supplies lactobacilli and acts as an inoculant against spoiling bacteria, allowing lactic acid to be produced and preserve the cukes. Salt alone can do the job, but I prefer to use whey as insurance.
Also: the process of fermentation creates a brine that looks very different from vinegar-brined pickles. The liquid will get cloudy and perhaps a bit bubbly. That does not mean anything has gone wrong. In fact, it has gone quite right! The pickles inside will look perfectly normal and delicious.
And the best way to tell whether your ferment has gone well is to smell and taste it. If it goes bad, you will know it
. It will smell rotten and awful. If it tastes pleasantly sour, you’re good to go! The good bacteria won!