Fermented Pho Pickles


In case you didn’t know, I love Pho soup. Did you know pho is pronounced “fuh”? There’s a restaurant here in the Atlanta area called “What the pho?” and I’ve heard of one called “Pho King Awesome.” (My all-time favorite pho place, by the way, is here in Atlanta and although it doesn’t have a punny name, it’s got the best pho and banh mi I’ve had… Quoc Huong.)

I like my pho puns as much as the next nerd with similar interests as me, but I was at a loss with these. Someone on my Instagram suggested Phickles, which I like, but I remembered there’s actually a good local vinegar-pickle company here named Phickles. (Here’s some free press Phickles!)

So what was I left with… Phockles? Fuckles? Nahhh…. (But seriously, you’ll have to try my pho sauerkraut aka “Get the Pho Kraut.” It goes on my Pho Reuben.)

These pho pickles are good. They’re different. They were amazing in my Pho Thousand Island dressing (recipe here) which used my paleo mayo and pho ketchup. If you like pho, and you like pickles, then chances are and all that stuff….

So, with no further ado, here is my pho pickle recipe. It is for a half gallon jar of pickles. Modify quantities for smaller or larger jar.

You will need:


  • Pickles sufficient to pack jars to shoulder (~8-10 pickling cukes)
  • 4 cups filtered or distilled water
  • 2.5. TBSP additive-free salt
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced (~50g)
  • 6 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • Mixed whole pho spice (~15g), usually consists of several of these: star anise, black cardamom, black peppercorns, fennel, cloves, Chinese mesona, etc.)
  • A few sprigs basil (~5-6g)
  • Juice & zest of 1 small lime (or 1/2 large lime)
  • Finger of ginger, sliced (~15-20g)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp black or Szechuan peppercorns


1.) Rinse all produce in cool water. Place all the cucumbers in the jar, followed by the onions, garlic, jalapeno, basil, lime juice and zest, cinnamon stick, ginger, and fish sauce.

2.) Using a mortar & pestle, crush the hard pho spices, coriander, and peppercorns for around 20-30 seconds.

3.) You may opt to combine the hard spices, along with the water and salt, in a saucepan and heat until salt is dissolved, stirring often. This will also help release flavor from the spices. If the brine is unheated, combine it with the spices in a jar, sealed tightly, and shake vigorously, until the salt is visibly dissolved.

4.) Allow hot brine to come to room temperature, then pour slowly over the cucumbers and other produce using a canning funnel. Stop pouring just before the jar’s shoulder.

5.) Place a fermentation weight over the produce in order to ensure it is fully submerged and locked in place. Then add any additional needed brine. Seal the jar tightly with airlock lid.

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When you begin refrigeration remove the ginger, basil, cinnamon sticks, and any large cardamom pods at the top, to avoid any flavor becoming too strong and/or bitter.

Fermentation length: As with any fermented pickles, the flavor and sourness will increase with time. For a strong flavor, wait 6-7 days and then begin refrigerating. Pho spices are pungent and aromatic. If you’re not sure how you’ll feel about it in a pickle, sample after 4 days and decide if you want to give it more time.

Fermentation will continue in the fridge, but at a much slower rate.

As with any lacto-fermented pickles, the brine will get increasingly cloudy, with bacterial sediment collecting on pickles or dropping to the bottom. These are normal and healthy signs.


  1. Lance K. Mertz

    So glad you got this working. I am wondering if you find any problems with cutting the cucumbers up before fermenting? I was gifted a bunch by my neighbor and they are on the big side. Thanks.

    • Daniel Berke

      You can cut them up and although I haven’t had mushiness problems with this myself, some people report this as a result. Cut pickles can be better suited for vinegar “quick pickles” which go into the refrigerator very quickly. For those I might suggest my Bread & Butter recipe or Senfgurken recipe on the site. Of course you can pretty much just follow those recipes and replace the spices with pho spices, but I’ll also be posting my pho vinegar pickles recipe this weekend.

  2. I can hardly wait for “cucumber season” to get some farmer’s market cukes to try this. The Pho Kraut and Sweet n’ Sour Pho Pickles I made last year turned out excellent. I’ve got some “Phokra” working right now that I just made today. I’ve been looking at hot sauce and whole grain mustard recipes as well. Such an adventure! Thank you so much for your inspiring recipes.


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