Homemade Sour Pickles

I recently have become OBSESSED with canning and pickling EVERYTHING!  My obsession spiraled out of control when I realized how easy/simple the process can be.  I’ve made pickled red onions, carrots, canned tomatoes, sauerkraut, jalapenos, and pickled cucumbers.  Because I am a pickle fiend, I’ve tried variations of both lacto-fermented (sour) and vinegar recipes, and lean ever so slightly to the super sour taste of my lacto-fermented pickles.

Some of you may be wondering what “lacto-fermented” means.  According to wikipedia, “Lactic acid fermentation is a biological process by which glucose, fructose, and sucrose are converted into cellular energy and the metabolite lactate.”  In less technical terms, lacto-fermentation is a food-preserving process that increases the beneficial bacteria, vitamins and enzymes present in foods and makes the nutrients they contain more bioavailable.  In other words, it makes your food probiotic and can help improve gut health.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made more lacto-fermented pickles since I got my new camera, so you’re stuck with iPhone photos.

Servings: 2 jars pickles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: n/a

Ingredients:

  • 6 Kirby or Palace King Cucumbers (I was turned on to Palace King Burpless Cucumbers by the owner of one of my favorite stands at the local farmer’s market – they are long and crunchy and hold up well for pickling)
  • Organic Dill (fresh works best – I use a pretty large bunch and find that it imparts only a mild dill flavor)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp green mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp red crushed pepper (optional)
  • 3 T red or white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Unrefined Sea Salt
  • 1 quart water
  • If you can find them, 1 grape or horseradish leaf per jar (or other tannin containing leaf) for crunchiness — I have not found these to be easy to find or necessary.  My pickles have been super crunchy every time with no leaves.
  • 3 Ball Jars

Directions:

(1) Rinse the cucumbers and pat dry.  (Some recipes suggest soaking the cucumbers in ice water for 30 min. to an hour before beginning, but again, I have not found this step to create any noticeable difference in the tastiness of my pickles.)  Slice the ends off of the cucumbers and cut into the desired shapes – I have tried whole, spears, and slices.  Very thin slices cut by a mandoline or food processor work best for me – they come out the crunchiest and are easiest to put on all types of food.

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(2) Mix together all the dry spices, except for the salt.  Fill each of your jars with 1/3 of the spices, 1 clove garlic, and 1 T onion.  Fill tightly with cucumber slices or spears, leaving a 1/4″ space at the top of the jar.

(3) Mix water and salt until fully dissolved.  It is important to use pickling or sea salt that is iodine free – table salt has caking agents that will mess up your pickles.  (If your salt won’t dissolve, you can boil the water and salt and let the brine cool before pouring over the cucumbers.  I’ve never found this to be an issue).

(4) Pour water over pickles, leaving about 1/4″ space at the top of the jar.  Seal tightly and set out in a cool place.  I leave mine in front of the AC unit in my apt.  Leave on the counter for 3-7 days, until bubbles start to float to the top.  Then store in the refrigerator.

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