My summer job when I was in college for marketing was working at the local pickle factory. It was my first “real” job. I started as one of the summer students working on the production line. It was awful and an 8 hour day felt like it would never end. My job was to push the pickles into the glass jar as they went down the production line. My thumbs were so sore. Since summer is the main season for growing cucumbers we were required to work 6 to 7 days a week, so really every day of the summer. When I came back the following summer I was immediately promoted to working in the lab testing batches of pickles, sauerkraut, eggs (pickling eggs is the smelliest thing) and anything else we pickled that day.
My impression of preserving food was based on using vinegar and salt. Now I know since reading Real Food Fermentation that salt and whey can be used to create a probiotic rich food in a few days. The book taught me how to create a brine to experiment with my own fermenting recipes. I used the brine principles from Real Food Fermentation to develop this recipe.
- Fresh dill, enough to cover the bottom
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 9 pickling cucumbers (enough to fill the jar)
- ½ cup sauerkraut juice
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 2 cups of water
- Use a 1.5 L glass jar and place dill and garlic on the bottom.
- Cut the blossom end off of each pickle.
- Place the pickles in the jar.
- Pour the sauerkraut juice in the jar.
- Mix sea salt into 2 cups of water and dissolve. Pour into the jar.
- Screw the lid onto the jar and place the jar in an area away from direct sunlight. I usually put my jars in a cupboard. Make sure you put the jar in a room that is warm (not the basement, things don't ferment in a cold room).
- Wait at least 3 days. Each day unscrew the lid and push any pickles that have popped up down or use a glass fermentation weight keep the pickles down. It is important that the pickles stay under the brine so they don't grow mold. You can tell if your pickles are fermenting when you see bubbles around the top of the surface of the brine.
- Books I have read said it is common for a little mold to grow. If mold grows scoop it out and continue to let it ferment. If the mold becomes something more than a little mold then discard the pickles. *I had a little mold grow on my last pickle when I stored it in the fridge weeks later.
- Taste test the pickles after 3 days. When you have reached you desired crunchiness and flavour place the jar in the fridge. Refrigerating the pickles will halt the fermentation process.
- *Options – You can place grape leaves in the jar to help retain the crispness of the cucumbers. The tannins in the leaves is what keeps the pickles crunchy. I have not experimented with this yet but it is on my to do list.
*Keep the pickles whole. When I experimented by cutting the cucumbers into spears to ferment they went all mushy.
*The recipe for sauerkraut juice can be found here. Make the raw sauerkraut and use the juice after the cabbage has finished fermenting. I always save the juice for projects like this.
I found this book very helpful for learning how to ferment various foods. Real Food Fermentation (found here on Amazon) focuses on a beginners guide to fermenting vegetables, fruits, drinks and meat. If you want to learn more about how to ferment foods you should look into Nourished Kitchen’s course, Get Cultured. Click here for more information.