You know that summer is officially here when you have so many cucumbers that you need to start pickling them. We have done dill, sweet, bread and butter, and every other kind of pickled cucumber you can think of. You can imagine how excited we were to learn from our friend Lisa that there is an easy way to make homemade fermented pickles that is safe and reliable.
The Perfect Pickler is simple air lock that fits on to any wide mouth canning jar that allows gas to escape during the fermentation process. Fermented pickles are much like the ones you might find a deli counter in a giant wooden barrel and we knew we could not pass up the opportunity start making out own.
The recipes could not be easier for fermented pickles. It has the same ingredients as any normal pickle but you leave out the vinegar and you do not need to cook anything. The key is making the salt brine that the pickles will live in. The brine is salty enough that the only good lactic acid producing bacteria can survive. Fermented pickles are actually pro-biotic just like yogurt and other fermented foods.
The first step is to fit all of your flavoring and cucumbers into a jar. here I used dried chili, dill, and some of our very own garlic. Then you make a 5% brine solution (by weight) and fill the jar so that the cucumbers and flavoring are completely covered. I like to pack the jars really tight so that the cucumbers do not float up during the pickling process. If the cucumbers are exposed to any air during the pickling the will turn sour and not be good to eat.
The next step to attach the air lock lid and wait 3-4 days until the cucumbers have reached the desired level of pickling. Then you can remove the lid and store them in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. During the fermenting process the brine solution will turn a bit cloudy but this is fine it is just part of the natural process.
The air lock is a very nice extra. Traditionally people would make large batches of these sour pickles and just weigh down the pickles with a wood top and stones. This would keep the cucumbers in the brine and safely away from the air. This method still works but the air lock on the top of the ball jar allows for small batches and a bit of extra add security. It also allows for consistency because the pickling environment is sealed so each batch you make can taste nearly the same (if you use the same ingredients of course).
1/2 lb of small pickling cucumbers
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch of fresh dill
4 dried chili peppers
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cups of water
2 1/2 table spoons salt
Use a 1 quart wide mouth ball jar and fit all of the cucumbers and spices into the jar. Make sure that the cucumbers have been in the jar in such a way that they can not move around or little ones can not float to the surface. Next mix the salt and the water together until the salt has completely dissolved. Pour in the jar until all of the cucumber are completely covered. Place the air lock lid on the jar and store at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 3-4 days. Once the jar starts to cloud up you can remove a pickle and taste it. If you want it more sour allow it to go for another day or two and then test again. Once the pickles have reached the perfect taste for you. Remove the air lock lid and put on a more two piece canning lid and transfer the pickles to the refrigerator. You can leave them in the original brine or remove that brine and replace with fresh brine to completely arrest the fermentation process. They will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.