Saturday, June 30, 2012


Yes the title needed four exclamation points!  I have been a pickle lover ever since I can remember, and now as an adult, I count down each summer to the moment when I will grow enough cukes to bring them in and make a real batch of garlicky sour pickles.  I remember this small german restaurant in the mall when I was growing up that sold pickles out of a barrel for 50 cents.  By the time I was a pre-teen, entrusted with money for lunch and free reign at the mall, I would spend literally all of it on pickles.  Okay, that is crazy, but most pre-teens are!
With my tiny plot of suburban land, I grow enough cucumbers each summer to keep my kids eating them (they make a great substitute for crackers or chips), and to make enough pickles so we can enjoy them until September.  This year has come with an extra special blessing in the way of Pickles.
A friend of mine who owns an 43 acre farm could not do a CSA program this year, but she did have a "bumper" crop of cukes and very little time.  This turned into a very big "Yay! Me" moment, in that she asked me if I would like to take part in an exchange.  I make her pickles and I keep half of the cucumbers for my family and to sell.  I jumped at this offer and I pictured myself drinking the garlicky brine from the jar.
I just finished up the first batch and it was a total hit all around.  I used a combination of recipes from Wild Fermentation and Nourishing Traditions and I do believe made something wonderful!  I can't wait for the next installment of cucumbers!

Here's the recipe I came up with:

First make the brine.  Combine 3/8 cup of sea salt with 2 quarts of filtered or distilled water.  This will be enough to make several batches of pickles.  So if you are making less, you may want to break it down to a smaller portion.

1 quart sized wide-mouthed jar (you could really use any jar, but it is really easy to cram cucumbers into these jars)
Sliced, speared, or halved cucumbers
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 tbsp of dried dill or 2 tbsp fresh dill
1 oak or grape leaf
4 tbsp of whey
Enough Brine to cover the cucumbers

Press the garlic cloves in a garlic press or mince.  Place all of your ingredients except the cucumbers into the bottom of your jar.  Then add the cucumbers, packing them in as tight as possible.  (If you cut the spears just slightly shorter than where the jar tapers in, they will be less likely to float to the top.)
Once they are in tight, cover with brine.  Make sure to submerge them completely in brine.  This can be especially tricky with the slices because they tend to float.  Allow to ferment until fizzy.  Slices should take 2 days, spears 3 days, and halves 3-4 days.  When fizzy check for any mold....I know this sounds gross.  But because the pickles float to the top, it is likely to have one float up and become exposed to air, which may create some mold.  Remove any pickles with mold and discard.  Enjoy!!

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