Jun 5, 2015

Easy Pickle Making (Canning Not Required)

If you like pickles, go to the farmers market and grab some cucumbers.  Make this recipe ASAP.  
I made them by lacto-fermentation, which means they are power packed with probiotics.  It's a rather easy method as you will see below.

4 Reasons to Ferment Veggies

1.  Ferments build your immune system with probiotics to fight the bad bugs in your belly.
2.  Ferments provide digestive support (especially as we age, our digestive systems slow.)
3.  Ferments create enzymes that enable your body to assimilate nutrients (i.e. incorporate the healthy food you eat!)
4.  Fermenting is fun!  And easy! And you don't have to boil water and make your kitchen a sauna to get the job done.

dill, fresh or dried
other spices - mustard seed, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, whole cloves
sea salt (iodized salt is antibacterial, we are trying to encourage bacteria to grow!)
non-chlorinated water (again, trying to grow bacteria!)
starter (I prefer using juice from either Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut)

*Local and organic produce is best.  By using local, you are getting peak freshness.  I recommend organic because the process of fermentation makes food easier to digest (see reason #2, above).  If the food is easier to digest, then any chemicals used on the veggies will be easier to digest, too.  I don't want to be digesting chemicals.  Use organic when fermenting.

**Below are the tannins I used: horseradish and oak leaves.  Pictured on the right is fresh dill (all from my garden!)
I really liked the flavor the horseradish imparted to the pickles.  However, oak is just fine, too.  You can also use grape leaves for tannins.  You definitely want to use some kind of tannin, otherwise you will have flabby pickles.

I basically used this recipe from Cultures for Health.  I didn't have mustard seed.  Other spices I used were 2 large cloves of garlic, two sprigs of dill, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a few black peppercorns.  I followed the recipe except, I used about 1/4 cup of Bubbies juice to the half gallon jar of ferment to act as a starter.  In the quart jar, I used about 2T of Bubbies juice.  Cultures for Health doesn't mention using a starter in that recipe, but in my experience, using a starter helps to achieve a consistent and palatable flavor.

In the half gallon I used less red pepper, more oak leaves and some horseradish.   The quart jar was spicier and only used horseradish for tannins (no oak leaves).  There is a subtle oak flavor when using oak leaves, emphasis on subtle.  If I didn't tell you about the oak, you probably couldn't put your finger on it.

The picture on the left is just after assembly, the one on the right is 36 hours later.  Notice how the brine is becoming cloudier.  That means magic is happening in the jar.

 You'll see in the picture below that on the third day the jar is even cloudier.  If your kitchen is warmer than 70*, I recommend fermenting in a cooler with a block of ice (not touching).  Ferments prefer to do their magic in the 60-70* range.  Anything warmer than that can cause an imbalance of proper bacteria.  Read more about warm weather care for ferments here.  Here you will find more tips for crunchier lacto-fermented pickles.
They taste just like Bubbies brand.  One of my taste testers went so far as to say they were better.

Don't just take my word for it.  Go make some!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Julie! I am going to attempt this but don't have easy access to oak or horseradish. Any other tannin recommendations? Thanks!



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