Late July and early August are when the pickling cucumbers are in season in my area, so it's pickle making time. And the good news is, there is no standing near a hot canner in a steamy kitchen for these beauties ~ there is no cooking involved.
Because I've been attempting to incorporate more healthful probiotics (the good-for-your-gut bacterias/cultures) into our diet these lacto-fermented pickles are yet another way to do so. These delicious pickles taste more like kosher-style dills than average heavily vinegared dill pickles. To me they are a bit more sophisticated on the palate, and won't over-power whatever you are serving them with. I adore them.
We didn't grow cucumbers in our veggie garden this year so I picked up these organic ones at the Farmers Market. When I grow them myself I prefer to harvest them when they are a bit smaller than these, but I went with what was available. The first step is to wash the cucumbers thoroughly.
Then the cute cukes take a nice leisurely ice water bath (from 1 to 6 hours) until they are thoroughly chilled and hydrated, to assure maximum crispness.
This time I decided to use elements from Sandor Katz's recipe in his book
and one of Sally Fallon's recipes from her fabulous book
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
These cucumber pickles aren't canned, but are allowed to develop at room temperature for a few days, then transferred to the refrigerator to be enjoyed anytime during the next several months.
You can adjust the herbs and spices to suit your own tastes. I used fresh dill ~ and although I grow it in my herb garden, I bought these monster organic stalks for $1. per bundle at the Farmer's Market. Here you see them standing in s bucket of water--and nearly as tall as me-- in a corner of my kitchen.
What I don't use immediately, I'll dry most and package for use throughout the year, I'll make a couple of bottles of Fennel & Dill vinegar as well. Dill is also wonderful used to season sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, dips and spreads. Some use dill as a salt substitute, it compliments fish, meats, eggs and potato salad, too. Dill tea can be used to settle stomachs as well. I just love the smell (and taste) of dill.
The other herbs and spices you may be able to see are Bay leaves (from the garden), garlic cloves, mustard seeds, fennel and coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, whole allspice, whole cloves and a few whole black peppercorns. I used Celtic sea salt and also tucked some sweet red bell pepper slices into the jar ~ they are marvelous when pickled. Ditto the garlic!
TIP: An ancient secret for CRUNCHY pickles ~
Add a leaf or four of one of the following to your jar:
Oak, Sour Cherry, Horseradish, or Grape leaves.
(Pick them the day you will be making your pickles.)
I plucked some grape leaves from the garden this time and at day 5 the pickles have still retained their crispy crunch which makes me very happy!
To help promote the fermentation process you can add some whey (the liquid from cheese making, the whey which separates from plain, natural yogurt), or kombucha (fermented tea ~homemade, or store bought.) These are optional, and if you don't have them, just add an additional tablespoon of salt.
The sea salt is dissolved in filtered water, and kombucha or whey, (if you are using) is stirred in. This solution is poured into the sterilized jar/s to cover the cucumbers completely.
Some recipes instruct to leave the lids off of the jar, but I screw them down and leave the jars on the counter for 3 days to allow the fermentation process to begin. Before refrigerating you can take a taste of one of the pickles to make sure they are developed to your liking, if not leave out an additional day or two. This time mine were ready for the refrigerator after 3 days at room temperature.
Note: Don't be alarmed if the brine/liquid turns cloudy after a few days, that is simply the fermentation process doing it's work, and is to be expected.
Incidentally, if you prefer pickle spears, or slices, simply cut them the way you like after washing, then put them in the ice water bath and proceed with the directions from there.
Yum! I love an excellent pickle ~ very well flavored, nicely sour and extra crispy-crunchy!
Thank you for stopping by, and any comments you would like to share.
Have a GREAT weekend, friends!
If you try these non-vinegar pickles I hope you like them too.
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