Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fermented Cucumbers/Sour pickles

I have finally tried to make pickles without vinegar and they are superb. I used Sandor Katz's recipe from his book "Wild Fermentation" and the flavor was right on and I am not even a pickle person. I literally never have pickles in my fridge or would ever touch the ones at a restaurant. I did eat pickles some growing up but they were always very garlicky and better somehow. Now that I have learned that true fermented pickles are actually health food that aids in digestion and supports the immune system I was willing to try it for myself and I am more than pleased with the results. And it is really very easy. The hardest part was peeling all those garlic cloves but it was well worth the effort. The oak or grape leaves by the way supposedly keep them from getting mushy. Seemed to work for me.

Here now the recipe:

3-4 lbs small to medium cucumbers
6 Tablespoons sea salt
3-4 heads fresh flowering dill (or 3-4 Tbsp. of any form of dill)
2-3 heads of garlic, peeled (not cloves, heads!) I only had about 1 1/2 heads. So I used those.
1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak and/or horseradish leaves (I put in 4 oak leaves of my trees!)
1 pinch black peppercorns

1. Dissolve sea salt in 1/2 gallon of water to create a brine.
2. In a crock place dill, garlic, leaves and peppercorns.
3. Place cucumbers in the crock.
4. Pour brine over the cucumbers. Place a clean plate over the them and weigh it down with a jug filled with water. The brine needs to cover the plate.
5. Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out bugs.
6. Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface and don't worry about it. It only forms where air is present.
7. Taste the pickles after a few days. They ferment faster in warmer spots.
8. After one to 4 weeks, depending on temperature, move them to the fridge where fermentation will be slowed down greatly.
9. They are ready to eat at any point when they taste right to you.

Even the kids like these pickles. Just eating a little bit with your lunch or dinner will greatly improve your absorption and digestion.

A note on equipment:
A real crock is very expensive and I don't own one. At the thrift store I found a ceramic container that has "Flour" written on it, such that people would use in a kitchen to store their flour, sugar etc. It has straight sides and I jsut found a plate at home that would fit inside. Then I filled an old apple sauce jar with water as a weight and covered the whole thing with a flour sack towel. It worked.