Fermented Pickles

Posted by on 13/08/2012

Hello Everybody!

This week, I found a large supply of local pickling cucumbers on sale at coop when I was doing my shopping. At two for $3, I couldn’t resist!  luckily, I know how to ferment and preserve foods as I come across sales like this… Hopefully, soon you will too.

I much prefer the tangy, fizzy flavour of a fermented pickle to the acidic flavour of a commercial vinegar pickle. The difference? These have a lot more salt, and take more time. Like before with the kimchi, this was done in my pickling crock using the amazing symbiosis of lactobacillus. If you have a fermented product handy, you can add it to increase the reliability of the fermenting as you inoculate with the bacteria you wish to encourage.

Like any fermenting, you must do this with clean, sanitary equipment. We are purposefully encouraging the growth of bacteria, so we don’t want to start off with alternate ones in there. It could lead to turning off the end product (trust me, you can tell. It’ll be visually different, mushy, slimy, or even smell terrible!). You can get some mold or “white slime” as it is called growing on the surface of the fermenting liquid, this can be skimmed off without it harming the end product.

Without further ado, here is how I make my pickles:

Ingredients:
Small Cucumbers (large ones end up hollow, with a less desirable texture)

Pickling spice :  I buy the premixed packages from McKormick. They can be trusted to list what is in an item, I consider it safe & have never had a celiac reaction from it (that I know). I also add some onion and garlic to my spices. LOTS of them.

Brine: Food Networks Alton Brown told me once on good eats to use 1/2 cup kosher salt for one gallon of water. It has worked great for me, and I’ve used it multiple times

Pickling crock: if you only have a regular crock, it works too. Trick is non-reactive material, and the ability to keep the vegetables completely submerged.

Brine bags: ziplock bags of brine. They float on the surface to keep the pickles underwater. A plate with a weight will also work. Again, its about keeping them submerged.

steps:
1. Boil water with salt at the 1/2c per gallon ratio. Throw in the pickling spices to get the flavours going. Make more than you think you need, we will be filling bags. I add my onion and garlic to the brine.

2. Wash the cucumbers to remove dirt etc, trim the blossom end off. Cucumber blossoms have a bacteria on them that naturally fights the lactobacillus bacteria that lives on the rest of the vegetable. If left, it will prevent the fermentation from taking hold. Cucumbers, like cabbage, naturally have the bacteria we want on them. They can both be used to ferment, other vegetables can be added to them to ferment, if desired.

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3. Fill double bagged ziplocks with brine mixture. Either one large bag or multiple small ones. I was out of large bags.

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4. Layer your pickles in your crock. Apparently adding fresh grape leaves can provide tannins too get you a crisper pickle. I have never done that, as I can’t find those easily or locally. Might try it if I ever have access! My crock is pretty large, though I almost had too many cucumbers for it. Very glad I’ve moved on from doing this in Mason jars, as that would have been more difficult. A slow cooker with an upside down lid makes a great crock!!

5. Fill the crock with the spiced brine. Pickles should be floating so that they can be fully submerged. If you are adding liquid from a previous ferment, add it now.



6. Put your brine bags, weight, plate, or what you choose to use on the pickles. Point is, it has to keep them under water. Anything exposed could start growing bacteria you do not want. Put the lid on your crock, fill the reservoir if you have one. These let out gases from fermentation without letting in oxygen, thus keeping your pickles from rotting.

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Look, some of the cucumbers are peeking!

7. Leave it alone, on a counter, in the backroom, somewhere clean. Check it daily to skim anything that starts growing on the surface. Clean your bags if stuff grows on them. Taste it daily, the sourness will develop slowly. It took me 7 days this batch. Apparently, it can take as little as three but I’ve never been that lucky. Once they reach the point I feel they are done, I remove with a slotted spoon.

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they should still be firm, and have a great olive colour!

8. I pack them in Mason jars, top off with the brine to cover the pickles. These go into the fridge loosely closed (still fermenting, gas needs to escape). You can water process them to store in the cupboard or for long term. This can impact the texture of the pickles. It will also kill off the lactobacillus, so you will not get as many of the intestinal benefits. Up to you, I prefer them fresh and never have a problem eating them quickly enough.

Thats it for pickles!  I tried to take a shot of the jars but did not manage to get one I liked. Its a definitely learning process!

Thanks for visiting

Sean

P.s. : I have my surgery coming up on Aug 22.. There may be an impact to my blogs for a few weeks after this point as I recover. Will definitely endeavor to have something for you, though I am still wondering what I will do. Might just write up a few extra ones or ask a friend to assist.



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