Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pickle Time

Dang it, the summer flew by and suddenly it was almost, almost too late to make pickles. But luckily, I happened to be shopping the other day and noticed the market still had pickling cucumbers and flowering dill, so I loaded up my cart and went on my merry way.

Then last night, in less time than it takes to make dinner, we made pickles.

Of course, they won't be ready to eat for a week or two or three, because we are making them using natural fermentation. Do you know about the book Wild Fermentation? It's a great resource authored by Sandor Katz, about the many benefits of making your own fermented treats - like yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. Of course, he doesn't just sing the praises of fermented foods, he tells you how to make them!

You can find the precise recipe for pickles here, or better yet, get your own copy of the book! But below is a rough guide to how we do it.

First, you don't have to use flowering dill but it's nice to use if you can get it. You can use regular fresh dill or dried dill.

The Wild Fermentation site recommends that you make your pickles in a crock, but we always make them in mason jars.

So here's what you'll need:

3 2-quart mason jars

3-4 lbs pickling cucumbers
2-4 bunches fresh flowering dill, or fresh dill
2-3 heads garlic
3-4 T. whole black peppercorns
Salt and water

First, make the brine. You'll need enough to cover all your pickles so you might want to start with 2 quarts water with 6 T. salt mixed into it. This probably won't be enough brine to cover all your pickles, but you can easily make more.

Rinse the pickles and the dill. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and distribute them evenly amongst your clean pickle jars.

Roughly crush the peppercorns in a mortar & pestle, or if you don't have one, crush them with a rolling pin on a cutting board. Divide the peppercorns into the jars.

Divide the dill evenly into the jars, and then add the cucumbers to the jars.

Now pour the brine over the pickles, and, if you need to, make a little more brine. You want enough to nearly cover the cucumbers.

Sandor Katz recommends you place a plate on top of the pickles to immerse them completely, but we've found that a clean beer bottle with a little water in it is the perfect way to weigh the pickles down and immerse them fully.

Cover the pickles loosely with a clean towel and put them in a cool place. Mr. Katz recommends you taste the pickles after a few days, and then check them daily. We have tended to only taste them about once every week or so, and that's worked out fine for us. Regardless of how much tasting you do, you'll want to skim off any mold that may form on the top, and rinse any mold off the bottles too.

Depending on the temperature, and how sour you like them, your pickles should be perfectly delicious and ready for crunching in one to four weeks.



Emily said...

Dear Val,

My oldest friend in the bay area.. my very sweet, awesome, and talented friend. Have I ever told you of my love affair with pickles? Oh.. I haven't? Well, I love pickles more than most people in this world.. not in that Snookie Jersey Shore way either. I have a fine love of the pickles.. an appreciation of the perfect pickle. With that said... please dear friend.. think of me when these gems are ready to eat.

Your friend,

Soup and Song said...

Wow, how could we have known each other for so long and yet you never revealed this fact?! Of course, you are welcome to come on over and enjoy these pickles, my friend, but don't forget, it isn't hard to make your own!!! Don't fear the natural fermentation. I'd be happy to assist you in the process. And then you will never have to be without pickles again!

Shutcha said...

Cool! I've made two batches of pickles this way this year. I was taught by folks at the North Oakland Farmer's Market to put some grape leaves or oak leaves in the batch, because the tannic acid helps keep the pickles crispy. I love making pickles this way! Also once I put a cinnamon stick in and that added a neat flavor.

Soup and Song said...

Shutcha, yes yes! Mr. Katz recommends that as well but I wasn't sure where to find the leaves. Where did you get yours?

Shutcha said...

Well, they gave me some at the farmer's market, but then a few weekends ago I was up in the wine country and just stopped by the side of the road and STOLE some leaves from a grape field! (Don't report me) Does it still work fine w/out 'em?

Soup and Song said...

Yes I think it works fine without them although they definitely don't tend to be as crunchy-licious. So I'll have to hunt some down for the next batch. Thanks for the tip!!