No. The popular claussen pickles are not fermented, they are pickled. These are two different preservation methods; fermenting is pickling, but pickling is not fermenting.
Let me explain, plus let's talk about brands of fermented pickles, how to find fermented pickles in the grocery store and how to make pickles at home.
Pickling is done by pouring a boiling acidic solution over vegetables. Which is typically hot water bathed canned afterwards. Which means there’s heat applied at two different times, this eliminates any chance of live probiotics.
Fermenting at home pickles on the other hand is a room temperature process.
Begin with a solution of salt, herbs and spices (usually dill, peppercorns, garlic and grape leaves) which is layered in with the cucumbers. The cucumbers will sit on your counter for four to seven days or more, depending on your preference of sour.
Each day you release the produced CO2, from the bacteria and wait for the flavor to come to life! Once your ferments taste good to you, move them to your fridge to slow the fermentation.
In summary; fermenting is a process involving time to create bacteria (time + sugar + bacteria = acid) to create the desired outcome. Pickling, on the other hand, is achieved when an acidic brine is used to create the outcome.
Wildbrine does a nice job of explaining the differences between pickling and fermenting.
What kind of pickles are best for probiotics?
Fermented pickles made with fresh cucumbers, salt and herbs and spices will create wild probiotics in time, usually after four days or so. Wild ferments create probiotics that vary depending on the crop and season.
So wild fermentation is best for gut microbiota diversity! Plus I love adding horseradish leaves to my fermented pickles to keep them extra crisp.
But if you don't want to ferment your own, or don't have the time, look for one of these store bought brands of fermented pickles.
Brands of fermented pickles
Fermented pickles will be found in the refrigerator section of your store, look for one of these brands.
I included where they’re made since many of these brands, with the exception of Bubbies, aren't sold in mass grocery stores. If you’re local, you may have better luck!
- Olive My Pickle - made in Jacksonville, Florida
- Wildbrine (a personal fav!) - made in Sonoma County, California
- Bubbies (the easiest to find in stores, in my experience) - made in Ventura, California
- Sonoma Brinery/Cleveland Kitchen - made in Cleveland, Ohio
- Oregon Brineworks - made in Hood River, Oregon
- Barrel Creek Provisions - made in Austin, Texas
How do you tell if store bought pickles are fermented?
Here are a few quick ways to find a fermented pickle when you’re shopping in the grocery store.
- The ingredient list will not include an acid, such as distilled vinegar
- The label may state “contains live & active cultures”
- Found in the refrigerator section of your grocery store
- The label will state “unpasteurized” or “perishable”
- The label will not state “heat treated” or “pasteurized”
- The solution may be cloudy due to natural fermentation
True fermented pickles are never heat treated. Instead pausterizing/heating at or above 161 degrees is a practice put in place by food safety regulations as a way to sell to the masses without concern of food borne illness.
Natural fermentation causes the pH to become acidic enough to make the solution inhospitable for pathogenic, or potentially harmful, bacteria. Instead lactic acid bacteria thrive in this low pH environment which are the source of good bacteria, or probiotics.
Are Claussen pickles good for you?
It depends. Claussen pickles do not contain probiotics as they are not fermented. However, they may help expand a diet limited to other vegetables. Or, perhaps be a source of sodium on a hot day for an athlete.
Plus, If I have veggies that are going a little limp, like carrots or cauliflower, I will throw them in a jar of pickle juice. Since pickle juice doesn’t go bad, this is a great way to reuse the juice before throwing it out. Just do this once though, then pitch it.
But just don’t look to Claussen pickles for gut health.
What if I don’t want to ferment cucumbers but still want the probiotics?
You can, sort of. This is achieved by making refrigerator pickles with apple cider vinegar. Since ACV with the mother contains its own probiotics you’re essentially adding a controlled dose of probiotics. Better than Claussen pickles, but not as good as fermented.
Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made fermented tonic that you pour over your fresh cucumbers which greatly reduces the time it takes for you to make your own ferments!
So there you have it; a list of 6 fermented pickle name brands, an honest answer to whether Claussen pickles are fermented and the easiest way to determine if the pickles at the grocery are pickled, or fermented.
If you’re interested in learning more about different preservation methods check out my complete Youtube video here.