Pickling in Oak Barrels

by Hoohla
Wooden Pickle Barrel for Pickling, Fermenting and Sauerkraut - Pickled cucumber

Are you looking for the best pickle recipe out there? If so, let’s take a look at a very old recipe which has been handed down for generations.

Traditionally pickles were made in oak barrels, an idea originating from Germany and Poland. They became very popular in the United States, but food safety regulations eventually banned oak barrels, saying that they couldn’t be washed and disinfected properly.

Now if you are producing pickles commercially in the United States you have to pickle in plastic or metal barrels, but they don’t give the same taste. The new pickle recipe is not as good because the pickles aren’t brined, but vinegarized and pasteurized. Brining kills off harmful bacteria and keeps the pickles both crisp and juicy. You get a less crunchy pickle from vinegar.

Making pickles in an oak barrel can’t be beaten and there’s nothing stopping you from doing this at home. A combination of salt, water, herbs and spices combine to give you the best pickles ever. Raw vegetables are transformed into well-preserved and healthy food without any bacteria.

So if you are looking for the best pickled cucumber recipe we are here to help you.

The Root of Pickling

For the best quality pickles, the best is using a wooden barrel (tub) made of oak (oak bucket for pickles).

The tannins of this tree in small quantities are very good for health and have good preserving properties.

Oak is considered a natural antiseptic that can reduce the number of putrefactive microorganisms.

A barrel of oak gives pickles a unique savory taste and a special aroma.
Another advantage of oak wood is high resistance to mold and mildew. With proper care, such barrel becomes stronger with time.

A wooden barrel can be used for salting fish, meat, and lard, as well as pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, apples, and watermelons.


Pickled cucumbers in an oak barrel

Pickled cucumbers in an oak barrel

We carefully wash the barrel under cold water, wipe the inner surface and rub it with fresh garlic. Especially carefully do this with the ends of the barrel. Garlic protects wet wood from the mold.

Cucumbers should be soil (not greenhouse), preferably just plucked, no larger than 7-9 cm (about 3 in) in length. In a 10 liter (2.6 gallons) barrel 4 or 4.5 kg of cucumbers of this size.

  • Prep Time: 120 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 135 minutes
  • Yield: 10 liter (2.6 gallons) barrel 1x
  • Category: Snack


  • 10 lb cucumbers (4.5 kg)
  • 7 oz dill stalks and umbrellas (3% by weight of cucumbers)
  • 3 heads garlic
  • 2 сhilli pepper (hot or semi-hot)
  • parsley leaves, black currant leaves, oak leaves (1% by weight of cucumbers)
  • 34 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Peas
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Peas
  • 56 horseradish leaves
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1.3 gallons clean water
  • 10 oz salt (6 % by weight of water)


  1. Cucumbers are pre-poured and kept for 2-3 hours in ice water. You can create these conditions with crushed ice. Cooling cucumbers are necessary if we want to get a special crunch cucumber. Use only clean drinking water.
  2. Add in clean water – (1.3 gallons) salt (10 oz)
  3. Put at the bottom of the barrel the leaves of horseradish. Proportionately add some seasoning. On the seasoning lay out the first layer of cucumbers, placing them strictly vertically. Insert hot peppers in the middle. On the top again lay out the leaves of horseradish, sprinkle some of all seasoning with mustard and coriander peas.
  4. On top again lay out cucumbers. Again, insert the pepper. Well, and so on. The last layer of cucumbers laid horizontally. The distance from the surface of the last row of cucumbers with seasonings to the edge of the barrel should be at least 2 inches. It is necessary for the brine to confidently cover the entire contents of the barrel.
  5. Carefully pour the brine to a level of 1 inch to the edge of the barrel.


  1. This is the main stage of obtaining fermented vegetables, consisting of a preliminary period and main fermentation.
  2. The preliminary period is a temperature in the room of 70 F (21 C), the sour time is 40 hours. At this time, you need to remove the white foam.
  3. The main fermentation is in my refrigerator 50 F – 45 days. Every 10 days you need to remove small moldy formations from the surface of the brine, as well as wipe the edges of the barrel and rub it with garlic.
  4. If the brine evaporates, you can add a barrel of salted (6 %) water.

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