Pickles make the world go around...
Pickles...I love them so.I have tried several different ways to make them over the years and ended up deciding that lacto-fermented pickles are the best (and easiest) way to make them. I could go into a deep conversation on why fermented foods are great for you, why you should be eating them and the many health benefits but I really don't feel like I am expert enough to really go into the science of fermenting foods. This much I know for sure. I feel better for eating them and where we used to be sick constantly we stay pretty darn health these days. I can't help but to think that the healthy gut flora has something to do with this. There was a time when twice a year, every year, the tummy bug went through this house. We haven't had a tummy bug in almost 4 years now. This is a BIG deal for me. I HATE the tummy bug... Are they related? Not sure but I can say that it has been about that long since I started down the fermenting, veggie based diet road. I can't help but to feel they are related. I seriously had to re-register Haley at our doctors last month when I took her for a church camp check-up. Why? Because she hadn't been to the doctor for illness in so long they assumed she had gone somewhere else.
Really though...I don't eat a thing in life that doesn't taste good. While health benefits are great and all taste matters. Interested in learning more about fermenting? There are endless resources out there! If I could figure out how to get this new computer to link I would add that in...but I am stumped at the moment. I shall see if I can figure out how to add links with it tomorrow...until then.... Now onto pickles. So guess what...this method, is more than likely, the method many of our grandparents used. It is CRAZY simple. This time of year is the heart of pickle making. For years I have heard that dill should be blooming at the same time as cucumbers come in but I have never been able to get dill to flourish in this VA heat. This year I set a whole little section up for just the dill patch and babied it. Watering and cutting back each time it tried to bolt to seed. In the end I finally had success! Dill flowering heads at the same time as the cucumbers! It's the little victories in life ;-)
2 quarts of chlorine free water 5 tablespoons of Sea Salt 3-4 Flowering Dill Heads per jar 5-6 Garlic cloves Peppercorns and red pepper flakes to taste A Grape, Oak or Horseradish leaf
Ready for how simple this is? Bring the water to warm enough to dissolve the salt on the stove...salt is your bff in fermenting.
VERY important...let the water go back to room temperature before letting your veggies near it. Otherwise it will "cook" them a bit and take some of the crispness away. I normally grab the days cucumbers out of the garden, cut the dill and grape leaf off the vine (grape, oak and horseradish add tannins to the mix that help keep your pickles crisp) and start chopping and making the jars. I add a ton of garlic and dill (not just the flower heads) because we love both so much! You can add other spices that you would like as well! Just depends on how spicey you like yours.
Add the brine once it is nice and cool, making sure it covers everything. I typically use my friend Kelly's method of adding carrots to the top as a weight to hold everything down...but I was out today. I will be picking some up tomorrow though and adding them to the top. I typically then cover mine loosely with a lid. This time of year we have flies and I prefer the lid to the flies. I air them out though several times a day and you will know when they are fermenting well because they will start bubbling over when you open them. It's wild! And I swear the ferment gives them this extra "kick". I need to share my fermented salsa recipe as well! The tomatoes are starting to ripen so hopefully it won't be long on that front ;-)
So now what? You let these beauties sit on your counter for several days...until they have just the "kick" you are looking for. Our families typical "happy spot" taste wise seems to be around the 2 week mark. Check them from time to time and make sure they are under the brine. If they have a bit of cloud in the jar don't freak...fermented pickle brine tends to get a bit of a cloudy look to it. I really can't recommend researching the benefits of fermentation enough. Now go out there and pickle those veggies!