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Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

Fermenting is a time honored way to preserve food and it’s one of the safest ways to save your harvest. These old-fashioned cucumber pickles are a perfect easy, flavorful fermenting. Here’s a recipe given to me by my friend Cat Swenson, owner of Great Fermentations.

The key to a good pickle is selecting the right cucumbers. Use organic, wax-free cucumbers that are 1-inch diameter or smaller. And taste few to make sure they aren’t bitter. A bitter cucumber makes for a bitter pickle.

Ingredients

  • 6 pickling cucumbers
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 quart unchlorinated water
  • 3 grape, horseradish or oak leaves (the tannin makes the pickles crisp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon while black pepper
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • Sterile, wide-mouth quart jar with lid
  • Empty tea bag or unbleached coffee filter for spice bag
  • Weight (glass, sanitized rock etc)

Spice Bag

    Equipment

      Instructions

      1. Make a 5% salt brine by mixing three tablespoons sea salt per quart of unchlorinated water in a (separate) quart sized container. Stir until salt dissolves.
      2. Wash cucumbers. The blossom end of the cucumber should be scrubbed well or sliced off as it has enzymes that make pickles soft.
      3. Create a the spice bag. Combine all the spice bag ingredients in your emptied tea bag or unbleached coffee filter and tie with string. Place the spice bag in the bottom of your mason jar.
      4. Pack whole cucumbers strategically & tightly into the jar. If slicing into spears, cut the spears to about the same length. If making pickle rounds, cut crossways to desired thickness. Slices need to be covered and weighted in the jar, or will cucumbers will float to the top.
      5. Take your grape, oak or horseradish leaves and cover the top of pickles, making sure to submerge the leaves in the brine also. The leaves help crispness and hold down floaters. Tuck the corners of the leaves down on sides of the jar so no veggie matter is poking above your brine.
      6. Pour the room temperature brine on top of the cucumbers and leaves, completely covering everything with at least 1 inch of brine. You can refrigerate leftover brine to use up to a week later.
      7. Place fermentation weights on top of the leaves and cucumbers to hold everything under the brine. A safe ferment is an anaerobic ferment, so “submerge it in brine and all will be fine.” Examples of fermentation weights are glass disks, glass candleholders, jar in a jar, or a rock sanitized with bleach or boiling water.
      8. Cover the jar. Do not put a regular lid on your jar because the jar might burst from built up pressure. Instead cover it with a loose lid, plastic wrap or even a coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
      9. Set the jar on a baking sheet or similar catch-all to collect juices that may bubble over during the fermentation process. The cucumbers will start out a vibrant green, and as they ferment, turn that familiar olive-green of a pickle. Lactic acid produced during fermentation will turn the brine cloudy. Depending upon room temperature (ideally around 70 degrees), you will have full sours in approximately 2-3 weeks. Taste periodically and stop fermentation when you like the flavor.
      10. When done fermenting, screw a regular lid on tightly, label with the date and place the jar in the fridge. They must be refrigerated to stop the fermentation and will keep easily for six months or longer. Enjoy!