Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Fermented pickles – First attempt

on October 5, 2014

I know I’ve been talking about making lacto-fermented pickles for over a year now. Well, I’ve finally got myself together enough to give it a try today. I went to three farmer’s markets yesterday AND bought a second pickling crock just to make sure I could get a batch done before the end of the cucumber season. The second crock was because I needed to get a new batch of sauerkraut going.

Now, that I think of it.. A note on eating fresh sauerkraut: This stuff is beyond awesome for keeping your inside ticking along regularly. Due to the medications I take, this is important lol. So since I’m down to just one quart left of the last batch, it’s time to make more. This is the same dill/onion combo but with daikon radish added.

Ok, back to my pickle preparations… The first part of the prep work was doing some reading up on the process. One of the things I found out was that a key ingredient in making crisp pickles is tannin. Main sources are fresh grape leaves, oak leaves and black tea. An interesting note is that spices like cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves also contain tannins, which explains why you find them in pickling spice blends. I don’t have a handy grape vine or oak tree but I DO have some black tea so I’m going to put a couple of tea bags in the bottom of the crock.

The next step is prepping the cucumbers. Since I bought them yesterday and it had probably been a few days since they were picked, I have had them sitting in water all afternoon to perk back up. Next step, I finished washing them and then trimmed off the blossom end. It turns out there are enzymes in the blossom that can eat out the center of the pickle leaving it hollow. Huh, never knew THAT either.

Once the cucumbers were prepped, the tea bags go in the bottom of the crock along with some garlic, pickling spice and fresh dill. I didn’t have fresh dill seed heads but I did have some dried seed heads I used in combination with fresh dill sprigs.

Once everything was in the crock I added a brine of about 5.4% salinity. This works out to about 1.8 ounces of salt to quart of water. I use weight here because salts come in so many different grain sizes. It’s important not to use regular table salt or salts with iodine or anti-caking agents added. The only ingredient on the box should be “salt.” The additives can create off colors, flavors and cloudy brine. Icky.

In my reading I found that some people recommend adding a bit of a “starter” to get the ferment going. Either sauerkraut juice or boiled wine or boiled vinegar. The wine or vinegar get boiled to kill off any yeast that might still be active. Personally, living in the rich environment of the San Francisco Bay area, I don’t feel a need to use as starter. My previous batches of sauerkraut have done just fine so I’m confident the pickles will too.

While I was filling the crock I decided a tiny bit of heat would be ok so I tossed in a few dried hot peppers. I’m not sure what type of peppers I used but they’re pretty hot as far as I’m concerned. Jene will disagree but too bad lol. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when I started filling up the crock.

picklecrockOct52014

I layered in more fresh dill as I filled the crock with the cucumbers. I like my pickles really dilly. I’m not sure there’s enough garlic. I might have to add more in the future after I taste my first pickle. These pickles will sit on the counter for several weeks before they’re ready. Just as with sauerkraut, I’ll check them every day or two and skim off any bloom that forms. Here’s what it looks like with the plate and weight on top.

picklecrockfinished

 

I will really have to keep a close eye on this because it’s just a bit overfull. I’ll give it a day or two two see if there’s any settling and if not, I’ll pull the top layer of cucumbers off. The pickles should be covered with at least an inch of  brine, which they are, but it’s a very close thing lol. I know I’m excited about seeing how these come out in the next few weeks. 🙂

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