After taking a minor detour to Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, we are back on track with preserving the summer’s harvest. That was quite a treat and I must say that I’m glad that pie can sit in the freezer, out of sight, until company comes so we can share it!
Are your cucumbers coming on fast and in multiples? Do you love dill pickles and think it impossible to make your own? Not true. And they are so EASY and so good for you when using the lacto-fermenting process. Healthy bacteria, normally present on the skins of cucumbers are allowed to grow in a salt brine creating an acidic, sour flavor that is not only tasty, but also very healthy for your gut.
Try this recipe for Pickling Naturally : Cucumber Dill Pickles. Lacto-fermenting pickles can be so intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so easy! You have to trust me on this! Also, they keep for up to 6 months in your fridge.
We love these, but better yet, I love feeding them to our grand kids, who can’t get enough. Bonus is they get their veggies along with healthy bacteria for a healthy gut. They especially devour these Pickled Green Beans.
Keep in mind small to medium cucumbers turn out crisper pickles. Grape leaves are an optional ingredient in the recipe. The tannins in the leaves keep the pickles crisp. I have done these with and without grape leaves. Either way works, and I know grape leaves aren’t always available. A local vineyard gave me permission to pick some for this recipe.
The wooden lid you see in the photos, my husband crafted for me to fit inside the jar, giving it a little knob so I can easily pull it out when needed. He made 2 sizes, one for this gallon jar and one for a half gallon jar. Just cut this recipe in half for the half gallon size.
I used the Zip Loc bag application for adding weight which is necessary to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine. This is very important! If they are exposed to air, they will not ferment properly.
Expect the brine to get cloudy around day 3 and don’t panic. This is normal! It also starts smelling very delicious at this point.
These pickles become my “pets”. The whole process is so exciting and inspiring that I check on them daily to see what has transpired. Weird. I know. Can anyone relate?
Anyhow, venture into lacto-fermentation land. You won’t regret it. No matter what your diet preference is, all can benefit. Let me know if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer.
1 gallon glass jar
4 pounds pickling cucumbers
2 -3 bunches of fresh flowering dill
1/3 cup pickling spice
2 heads garlic, peeled and chopped
2 quarts filtered water
6 tablespoons sea salt
1 – 2 fresh grape leaves (optional)
Rinse your clean jar out with very hot water. Scrub your cucumbers with a firm bristled brush to get debris and dirt off. Make sure flowering stem is completely off. Set aside.
Place the spices, dill and garlic at the bottom of the jar. Add the cucumbers by packing them in as tightly as possible. Tuck the grape leaves in along the way. (I was able to get grape leaves from a local vineyard). Dissolve the sea salt in a glass pitcher. Pour over the cucumbers. If you need more liquid, dissolve a little less than 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 cup of filtered water. Water must cover the pickles, or your cucumbers will not ferment properly.
Use another jar lid (that will sit inside the mouth of the jar) with a weight on it to sit on the pickles to keep them submerged. Cover with a light cloth. Alternatively, place a plastic Zip Loc bag filled with water on top of the pickles. I like to use the bag system because it seals the jar. But I’ve used both weight applications successfully.
Set your pickles aside in an undisturbed place in your kitchen, away from daylight to ferment. A kitchen cabinet works for me. I set the jar on a Pyrex dish to catch any juices. Allow to ferment for 1 -2 weeks. The timing all depends on the temperature of the house. A warm temperature will pickle quickly, where a cooler temperature will take longer. I recommend tasting them after 7 days and if not done to your liking, ferment longer. When they are done and taste just right, remove weight, screw on a lid and refrigerate for up to 6 months.