Use fresh, high-quality vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and beets, says Dan Rosenberg of Real Pickles. Decide how much salt you want: Less salt results in faster fermentation; more salt slows it. Begin with 1½ teaspoons per pound of vegetables; use non-iodized salt, preferably unrefined sea salt, which is rich in trace minerals.
Preserve in well washed mason jars (sterilizing is unnecessary). Sprinkle the salt onto the vegetables, then wait at least 15 minutes to allow the salt to draw out water from the vegetables. Start packing the vegetables into the jars, leaving ¾-inch headspace at the top. Screw the lids on medium-tight.
Let the jars sit for 3 days in a room that is 65 to 80 degrees. Release built-up carbon dioxide by slowly loosening the lid (do this while you hold the jars over the sink to catch the juices.) Re-tighten the lids and place in a cool place (refrigerator or root cellar) to slow the fermentation, or allow the pickles to get softer and more sour by keeping them at room temperature.