I’ve wanted to post about the lost art of lacto-fermentation for some time but haven’t been able to get around to it yet. Fermentation is really a simple process, but the history is detailed and the benefits are extensive, so the article keeps growing and hasn’t gotten done yet!
Our cucumbers this year are ridiculous! The whole garden in general has gone crazy, and we have produce coming out of our ears. So, I wanted to post a quick recipe for making lacto-fermented cucumbers (pickles) that I tried this year and loved. I hope you like it, too!
** This recipe is for one quart of pickles.
1 Tbs. dill weed (my dill isn’t quite ready in the garden; if you have fresh dill, use it!)
5 cloves garlic
A couple onion slices
1 Tbs. fine sea salt
Optional: add other spices of choice, like caraway or mustard seed
Slice cucumbers lengthwise until you have several spears (depending on the size of the cucumber, you should be able to make between 6-8 spears). You can also use whole cucumbers or gherkins if you wish, but they will take slightly longer to ferment.
Place cucumbers in a clean, quart-sized mason jar. Add the dill, garlic, and salt. Fill the jar almost to the top with filtered water (leave about 1 inch of space from the top), cover with a tight lid, and shake to mix.
Let sit on your counter for 3-4 days. Place in fridge and enjoy!
That’s it! No hot water processing mess in your kitchen, and you have a delicious pickle that is full of good bacteria that will keep for several months in the fridge or cold storage.
A key to making good fermented food is to taste your product periodically. For example, usually I leave veggies out to ferment about 4 days (especially if they’re thicker like a pickle). I tried one at just 3 days, though, and it was tart and delicious, so I put the jars in the fridge. Experiment a little to see how you like your fermented vegetables. The hotter your kitchen is, the faster your vegetables will ferment!
Also, if you notice that your cucumbers are soft and soggier than you’d like, try adding a grape leaf into your jar to help retain crispness. I often will use a grape leaf or two from the wild grapes that grow around our farm (Another option would be to add a teaspoon or so of black tea; anything with tannins will help to keep your pickles crunchy).
And as you can see from the picture, it doesn’t have to be fancy! I usually write the date on the jar when I made it (when you get several things fermenting, it’s hard to remember when they should approximately be done), and I often write it with a marker and painter’s tape. It can be as complicated or as easy as you would like to make it.
I hope to have a more detailed article about fermentation soon, including links to helpful references to make fermentation easy and fun!