I’ve been sitting on this recipe since last fall when I finally figured out fermented pickles. It’s been VERY HARD keeping it to myself all this time so when I saw pickling cucumbers at the farmers market again this past weekend, I got VERY EXCITED.
This easy fermented pickle method uses salt water but also a secret little trick I call raw apple cider vinegar. Maybe it’s not so secret but it’s a great trick, especially if you’re new to fermenting and a little skeered.
Why fermented pickles???
Many easy pickle recipes use a combination of white vinegar, water and salt to make cucumbers that taste like pickles. And while those are good — I love anything sour and salty — they lack the digestif properties of real, fermented pickles with all the healthy bacteria.
My method combines salt-water fermentation with a touch of raw vinegar (Bragg’s is one brand, but there are others; be sure it says raw or unpasteurized and unfiltered on the label) to get the right kind of bacteria started. It’s perfect for people who are new to home fermentation and maybe a little nervous about colonizing the wrong kind of bacteria or heaven forbid, mold. (Mold is what I got the first time I tried making my own sauerkraut and I will tell you nothing stinks up a kitchen like forgotten, moldy cabbage.)
One common problem with homemade pickles is ending up with soft, mushy pickles with no crunch. Adding tannins to your brine helps keep pickles crunchy. Tannins can be in the form of black or green tea leaves, grape vine leaves, oak leaves or just a good ol’ fashioned bay leaf, which is what I use. I experimented with adding a teaspoon of loose-leaf tea, also, but found that the the bay leaf works just as well and adds a nice flavor, too.
If you have fresh, un-sprayed, grape or oak leaves available, you can also tuck a small one of those into each jar.
For more fermentation, try making your own kimchi!Print
12 ounces small pickling cucumbers (around 2 inches long)
several sprigs fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 large bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed
2 cups hot water (filtered if possible)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Wash the cucumbers. I fill a bowl up with warm tap water and a little salt and swish them around in that. Drain and rinse again.
Put into a quart jar: 1 garlic clove, dill, half the peppercorns and half the coriander. Pack the pickles into the jar. They should just reach the neck of the jar. Add the other garlic and remaining spices.
Dissolve salt in the hot water and then add vinegar. Pour into jar. It should cover the pickles by at least an inch. Seal loosely with a ring and cap, or tie some cheesecloth over the top. Place jar on a small plate to catch drips and put it in a dark spot for a few days.
Once some bubbles have started to form around the top of the brine, you can taste the pickles and see how you like them. For more sour pickles, let them sit longer. If you like them, cover the jar and refrigerate. Eat within a couple of weeks for best texture.