Picked Pickles: probiotic fermented cucumbers

Every year we think about making pickles, but somehow the summers get filled with other adventures. This year Jesse and I planned ahead and planted three hills of pickling cucumbers (Homemade Pickle & Early Russian).

hills
6-8 cucumber plants!

If you are new to fermentation, fermented cucumbers produce probiotics through lacto-fermentation. This is good for gut health. Fermentation is a natural process to make the vitimins of your food bio available — fermentation is a kind of microbiological alchemy. The vitamins and probiotics produced from fermented foods are the proverbial gold.

If you have been fermenting for a while, you know it can be easy to get discouraged after a ferment-gone-wrong; last year we spent too much money on high quality, organic cabbage for sauerkraut only to have it spoil.

Luckily, this year I had some new friends give me the boost of confidence I needed to ferment some more vegetables. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, “just make them as you have them.” As a rather high-strung person, my constant lesson of fermentation is to relax and let the yeast work for me. Besides I have so many cucumbers growing everyday, so I might as well experiment!

scaled-pickle-pre-ferment
Dill spices, cut cucumbers with grape leaf and glass weight atop (pre-brine), post brine with special airlock atop.

The thing I was most stressed out about was what kind of top to use. So I went to Mirador natural kitchen store and bought a couple expensive specimen to cool my nerves: a ‘nipple’ style airlock, and a re-cappable top which fits an S-lock and bung. I also got some really awesome glass weights to keep the cucumbers submerged under the brine, which were a bargain. In addition to the ‘extreme’ airlocks, I also just placed the wide mouth canning jar lid gently over the jar.

I found a pickle recipe with a strong brine, another choice to ease my mold-fearing sensibilities. I encourage you to use this brine and instructions as a guide, but then just use the ingredients you have around your kitchen to make it unique and to find out what you like– Basically, 2Tbsp salt to 1.5C water!

post-ferment
Port-ferment! Though, the garlic could probably go longer 😉

 

Picked Pickles

You will need 1 quart jar and lid, plus a glass or ceramic weight can be extremely helpful to keep the cucumbers submerged. An extra vessel to mix the brine in can also be helpful.

3-5 Cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 C Warm Water
2 Tbsp Salt
Grape Leaf, or some other source of tannin

Optional Spices:

2 Bay Leaves
At least 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
Some Dill
Some Peppercorns
Some Chili Flakes
1 Clove

Clean (scrub) and sanitize (with boiling water or iodine solution) jars, tops and utensils. Make the brine by mixing warm water plus salt until the salt is in solution.

Put the spices in the pickling jar. Put the cucumbers in the pickling jar. Cover the top of the cucumbers with the grape leaf (or other tannin leaf). Put the weight on top of the leaf. Pour the brine over the top and cover (make sure the off-gassing from the fermentation process can escape via an airlock or unsealed cap/lid). Top off the jar with water – making sure the brine-liquid covers the cucumbers and also gives about an inch of headroom before the lid/cap.

Wait anywhere from 5 days to 1 month, depending on the temperature and your taste preference. You know the fermentation has started when you see a ‘cloud’ begin to form in the brine. Scrape off foam/scum that forms on top of the brine, as needed. Don’t eat anything that smells bad or tastes gross to you 😉

one quart fermented pickleswith probiotics

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