Well, pickling cucumbers are ON at the farm where we get our vegetables, so I thought it would be fun to share a fermented foods pickle recipe.
We choose to make fermented pickles instead of vinegar pickles because not only do we love the way they taste, we love the health benefits of eating fermented foods. It’s one of our favorite fermented foods recipes.
The process of fermentation not only helps to preserve food, it breaks food nutrients down into more digestible forms, improves the bioavailability of minerals, and creates new nutrients including B vitamins (folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and biotin). Fermented foods are also live foods, full of beneficial bacteria.
We are trained in our culture to think of bacteria as bad, but what John and I have learned is that many bacteria actually live symbiotically within our bodies and a healthy population of these beneficial bacteria is vital to good health.
Eating our pickles in fermented form carries these beneficial bacteria directly to our digestive systems where they greatly aid digestion.
So, how do you make fermented pickles?
For this fermented foods pickle recipe, you will need:
- 2-one gallon crocks or glass jars
- 4 lbs. of cucumbers
- 3⁄4 cup kosher salt
- 1 bunch dill weed
- 1 head of garlic, peeled
- 1 onion, sliced
- pinch of black peppercorns (optional)
- 10 grape leaves
- 1 gallon boiling water
First, wash your cucumbers and remove any remaining blossoms. Poke them with a bamboo skewer, inserting it a few inches into one end, but not going all the way through.
Slice the onions, peel the garlic and rinse the grape leaves.
Boil the water and dissolve the salt in it. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Place 2 or 3 grape leaves in the bottom of the jar(s). Place as many cucumbers as will fit in a single layer on the grape leaves. Add 5-6 cloves of garlic, a handful of onion slices, a handful of dill weed, and a pinch of black peppercorns. Put another layer of grape leaves on top.
Continue layering in this way until the jar is full. Finish with grape leaves.
Pour the brine into the jar(s) until full. Use a chopstick or knife to poke down into the jar (around the sides) to remove air bubbles.
Find a plastic lid (called a follower) that you can fit into the jar by bending it, and that will expand to mostly cover the grape leaves on top.
Place a weight on top of the follower (We use a mason jar filled with rocks and water) to keep the pickles under the brine. They should be covered by at least one inch of brine once the weight is in place.
Let sit at room temperature for 3-7 days, checking daily for desired taste.
When they taste right to you, cut them into slices and store them in jars covered with brine and with lids on top, in your refrigerator. You’ve made fermented foods!
Refrigerating will stop the fermentation process and allow you to store your pickles for a year or more.
This year, I also made fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. The more I learn about the health benefits of eating fermented foods, the more I find myself eager to experiment.
If you would like to know more, check out…
Sandor Ellix Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation. It has more fermented pickle recipes and MUCH more! Also check out Nourishing Traditions, by Sallon Fallon. There is a ton of information about fermented foods, fermented foods recipes, and more!