Fermented pickles, one of the joys of my summer.
Growing cucumber pickles not so much. I have never been lucky in growing pickling cucumbers. The plants refuse to thrive, and the cucumbers themselves are stealthy little buggers that more often than night manage to hide themselves until they’ve grown far too large (and taken on a bitterness of age, much like a lot of people I know) to fit in a pickle jar.
To make my lack in this area all the more annoying, I make kick-ass pickles. I hate relying on finding pickling cucumbers in the grocery store. Few carry them at all, and when they do, they are most definitely seasonal. Here one day, gone the next. Get ’em if you can.
Unfortunately, that means dropping everything to pickle pickles when they show up. Or, buying them and watching them dissolve into mush in your crisper drawer while you fail at finding time to pickle. I have about a 50/50 chance at actually making my homemade pickles any given year.
This year the stars aligned. Pickles have been pickled and are fermenting on the counter! Go me!
Fermented Pickles A la Saison
- 3 Quart sized canning jars
- Fermentation weights such as glass discs, optional, but very helpful.
- Fermenting Air-lock lids There are many styles available. You can get by with only using a regular lid by untwisting it to release pressure every day.
- 3 tbsp Sea salt, fine ground If you're using course ground, double the quantity.
- 1 quart Water Chlorine free if at all possible
- Enough pickling cucumbers, 3-4 inches long, to fill 3 quart sized jars.
- 3 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
- Bay leaves
- 1.5 tbsp Pickling Spice Mix, divided See Notes
- 1.5 tbsp Dill, divided You can use sprigs of fresh dill as well, but by the time my cucumbers are ripe, my dill is long gone. The summers are too hot here for it. 🙁
- 6 Grape Leaves Optional
- 1 tbsp Kombucha (live culture), or a few drops of whey optional
- Disolve salt in the water
- Clean your cucumbers and snip off the blossom end. Leaving he blossom end on will lead to mushier pickles.
- Add to each of your jars 1 clove garlic, crushed, 1-2 bayleaves, 1/2 tbsp pickling spice blend, 1/2 tbsp dill seed. Add a small amount of your salt water, just enough to thoroughly wet the spices, then cover the mix with a grape leaf. The grape leaves will help keep the spices at the bottom where they won't get skimmed off during the fermentation process, and they help keep your pickles crisp by releasing tannins during the fermentation process.If you don't have grape leaves, the bay leaves will also aid in keeping things crisp. You can also substitute oak leaves, loose tea, and I'm sure there are other options as well, but you'll have to figure out how much of what to use.
- Stuff all your cukes into the jars packed tightly. Use a second grape leaf to cover the cucumbers, tuck it in around the edges. If you have a fermenting weights, place them on top of the leaf to hold the contents in place. I love my glass discs for this, easy to clean and fit perfect in the jars.
- Pour brine into the jars making sure everything is completely covered by the brine, leaving about an inch of head space. If you have any live culture Kombucha or whey skimmed from live culture yogurt, add it now to kickstart fermentation. I don't know that it makes it difference, really, but its what I do, and they come out great so I'm not going to start experimenting now.
- Install your fermentation lid according to manufacturer instructions. If using a regular lid, tighten it snuggly.
- Place your jars somewhere out of direct sunlight where the temperature is in the mid to high 70s. If your house is warmer, it will ferment more quickly, and it will take longer if it's colder.
- If you're using a standard lid and not a an air-lock type, you need to release the pressure every day by twisting the lid open and then closing it again.
- After three days, fermentation should be in full swing. You should check your jars every day now if scum collects on the surface skim it off. You may need carefully remove the weight and wash the scum off. Scum is not mold, its the by product of the yeasts and fungi that make fermentation possible. If you choose not to skim, your brine may get cloudy.
- On day 7 check your pickles for flavor and texture. When they're done, removing the weight, the top grape leaf and replace the fermenting lid with a regular lid. Store in the refrigerator only. Pickles will last for at least 6 months... assuming you don't eat them first.