Monday, May 18, 2009

Old fashioned pickles

I gathered a heap of cukes from the garden the last two days and decided to pickle them the good old fashioned way...lactofermentation!
These aren't the super vinegary dills that you're used to tasting,
these are the old time sour, salty, crunchy dills you get in wooden barrels from the country store!
I remember as a child when my daddy and I would go to Garrison, Texas (it's a little town in east Texas where he grew up.) We'd stroll into one of the country stores for a coke (in a real glass bottle) and a pickle. He'd remove that wooden barrel lid and I'd reach deep down into that salty brine for a cool, fat, juicy pickle....Ohhh, they were so good!
That is the taste I'm trying to recreate for my kiddos!
Here's the recipe I followed for making one gallon of pickle slices...
...yes, I said a gallon.

4 pounds of unwaxed cucumbers either sliced or cut into spears.
6 tablespoons of sea salt
3 tablespoons dried dill~you can also use fresh, but increase to 5-6 tbs.
6 garlic cloves, smashed
half a palm full of peppercorns
1/2 gallon of distilled water, room temp.

Optional: one handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or horseradish leaves. They say it preserves the crispness of the pickle...but I don't think it's necessary.

Then I got a little crazy and added some sliced banana peppers and onions from the garden. You can really add anything that suits your taste.

Pour water into a gallon glass jar or food grade plastic bucket. You can get some wonderful buckets for lactofermentation for FREE, just ask your local bakery for their used icing buckets. Dissolve the salt in the water. This is the brine that is so important for lactofermentation to take place! Add the dill, garlic and peppercorns and give it a stir. Clean and chop your vegetables and add them to the brine. Give everything a good mix then weight down the cukes with a plate or jar so that they are submerged under the brine.

Cover the container with a towel and store in a cool, dry place. Check the container every day. Skim any mold or foam from the surface (don't worry, it doesn't mean the pickles have gone bad!) Taste the pickles after a week and continue tasting for up to four weeks. It all depends on the temperature at which they are stored as to how fast the lactofermentation occurs. When the pickles are to your liking, pack into cooled sterilized jars and store in the fridge for up to a year.


Cheeseslave said...

YUM what a great recipe thanks for sharing this -- it's that time of the year to make pickles!

motherhen68 said...

These look great. I made some pickle spears earlier this year and by 4 weeks they were mushy and disgusting! We didn't care for them at all, not at the beginning and certainly not at the end!

I hope yours taste better than mine did. Maybe I should try again? I was thinking of just doing a typical pickling this summer.

foodrenegade said...

We don't eat too many pickles, but we do eat pickle relish. We've made relish using lacto fermentation for a while now, and I love it!

JoAnnC. said...

Motherhen, chances are that your brine wasn't salty enough. The secret to good lactofermentation is the salinity! Try increasing the sea salt in your recipe and give it another try!
Foodrenegade, I never thought about making my own relish! Genius! Off to investigate that right now. Thanks so much for the great idea!

bigbinder said...

Awesome! I will give this a try - I canned some pickles last year and they were terrible.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

I also need to give pickles another try. My tastebuds are so warped from the store-bought taste of pickles all these years, that it's not easy getting used to a different flavor.

Thanks for joining in on Real Food Wednesday! I'm stumbling your post! :)


Alyss said...

I've made pickles for years and love them! It's been a while since I've made cucumber pickles, but hopefully the cuke plants will do their thing this year and I'll have some good ones. I don't actually weigh down the pickles, I just close a lid on the jar. It works just fine. I have a big jar this year so I may try the open method. Mmmm... pickles.