Monday, June 9, 2014

Easy, lacto-fermented pickles

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About a year ago or so I learned about fermenting veggies, and as requested, here's my little blog post on how I do pickles. 

Supplies:
- mason jar
- fresh cucumbers (I picked these last night)
- real salt (NOT iodized - I use the himalayan pink salt from Costco)
- pickling spices, herbs, garlic, etc.
- NOT chlorinated water (we have well water, so I use from the tap)
- optional: starter (will explain in a bit)
- optional: airlock type lid (I use this Perfect Pickler)
- optional: tea leaves or grape leaves (for their tannins; my pickling spice has bay leaves in it, so that works for me)


1) Fill your jar with cucumbers and herbs and spices. (My jar is usually stuffed full - it's OK to pack those cucumbers in tight, and actually can help with the ferment). 


2) Make a brine with some salt. I don't measure in anything but quilting, so I just go for salty. My book, Real Food Fermentation, recommends a ratio of 1/2 cup of salt to 2 quarts of non-chlorinated water. Remember: NOT iodized salt!


3) Here's where I cheat:
Sauerkraut is my only ferment I do that I don't add a starter. For these pickles, I saved some of the brine from my last batch of Bubbies (you can get them at a health food store in the fridge). They're fermented pickles. 


4) Add the brine and starter to the pickles (I think it's about 1/2 cup of starter -- for the next batch; I just reserve some of the brine and herbs from this batch and that has worked really well for me).

Make sure the pickles are covered with brine!

5) Let them sit on the counter for 3-5 days. They will bubble and change color, but they're delicious! My Scarlet especially loves them. If you don't have an air-lock lid, open once or twice/day to release some of the pressure. If your home is especially warm, they will ferment faster. I sometimes put them in the fridge in the middle of the day to slow down the process. Move to the fridge and they keep for a long time!


This is my fresh batch, and my last batch after 4 days of pickling!
I use cabbage leaves, a little stainless cup, a smaller jar inside a jar, or other ways to keep the pickles below the level of the brine. I went back and added more to this batch because I noticed my pickles had floated up a bit. 

Enjoy!


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