Traditional Fermented Pickles
Salt has been used as a food preservative for thousands of years. In the absence of refrigeration, it is a low-cost and quite reliable method of preventing the growth of fungus and unfriendly bacteria while cultivating the same gut-friendly lactobacilli present in live-culture yogurt. Although this recipe is for cucumbers, you may substitute other fresh, unwaxed vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, green beans or baby eggplants.
1 ½-2 pounds fresh, unwaxed cucumbers
3 Tablespoons non-iodized, pickling salt
A few black peppercorns
3 Tablespoons grape or cherry leaves (optional, to maintain crispness)
Several cloves of garlic (optional)
3 Tablespoons dillweed, pickling spice or other herbs
Wash and trim cucumber ends. Cut into slices or chunks if they are a larger, non-pickling variety. Place herbs, spices and leaves in the bottom of a very clean ½ gallon jar and then add cucumbers. Thoroughly dissolve salt in 1 quart of water and pour into jar, covering cucumbers by at least 2”. Keep cucumbers under the brine by filling a smaller jar or partly filling a clean Ziploc bag with brine and putting it inside the larger jar directly atop the cucumbers. Cap the jar and let it sit between 65F-85F for about ten days. Remove any scum or mold that form on the surface—as long as the cucumbers have remained submerged, it will not affect them. As you approach the seven-day mark, watch for a decrease in the bubbling or for the pickles to seem to “fall” lower in the jar as these may be signs that the fermentation is complete. The jar should smell pleasantly sour when opened. If it smells rotten or appears slimy or spoiled, throw it out and clean the jar thoroughly before trying again. If all is well, remove your submerging device, refrigerate (or store under 65F) and enjoy!