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Cucumber Pickles

July 2014
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LU Farmers Market

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You may have noticed that the market has been swimming in cucumbers lately. Here’s a great way to utilize cucumbers. This is a recipe I taught recently at an introduction to fermented foods at the Missouri River Regional Library. These pickles must be refrigerated after the fermentation occurs, just save a spot in your fridge – it’s worth it! The tannin in the grape or oak leaves help keep the pickles crisp. Make sure to use fresh ingredients. This is not a recipe for pre-chopped, bottled garlic. The library has some great books on fermentation, if you’d like to learn more.

CUCUMBER PICKLES

Adapted from Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin
Yield: 3-4 pounds
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 3 days – 2 weeks

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 pounds small, thick-skinned cucumbers
  • 2 quarts chlorine-free water
  • ½ cup sea salt
  • Seasonings: generous amounts of dill, whole garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, whole black pepper, mustard seed, etc. (optional)
  • A few fresh grape or oak leaves

 

EQUIPMENT

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • 1 gallon pitcher
  • ½ gallon mason jar, or a plain glazed ceramic crock
  • Something to hold the cucumbers under the brine
  • Clean dishtowel or cloth to cover the top of the jar or crock

 

PREPARATION

  1. Trim the blossom end off the cucumbers.
  2. Combine the chlorine-free water and salt in the pitcher.
  3. Place the seasonings and leaves at the bottom of the jar or crock, followed by the cucumbers.
  4. Pour the brine into the crock or jar.
  5. Weigh down everything so it stays submerged.
  6. If needed cover the top of jar with a cloth and secure with a rubber band or twine.
  7. Store at cool room temperature. Every day after the second or third, pull out a pickle, cut off a piece with a clean knife and taste it. When the pickles are pleasantly sour, but still crunchy, they are done. Move them to a cool place (like the refrigerator)

If a little mold grows on the top of the brine, it is not a problem – just remove it and continue. But, if there is a lot of mold, and it has long tendrils reaching down into the brine, it is a problem. Chalk one up to experience and send your pickles to the compost bin.


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