DSCN1580The August 9th introduction to pickling was a ton of fun! Preserving Traditions and Sustainable Michigan met together and presenter Blair Nosan explained the difference between lactofermented and brined vinegar pickles and showed us how to make old-fashioned fermented dill pickles.

Lactofermented pickles…

  • get their name from the lactobaccili that turn the cucumbers tangy and sour, not from anything having to do with milk
  • are full of live probiotics (much like yogurt), which makes them very healthy
  • can be kept for weeks or months in a cool place, and the flavor and texture continue to develop during that time
  • take very little time, energy, and equipment to prepare
  • need at least a week to develop full flavor

Vinegar pickles…

  • get their tangy flavor from the vinegar
  • are processed in a hot water bath canner
  • have no live cultures
  • are completely shelf-stable and will keep for years with little or no change to flavor (they may get softer, though)
  • are rarely as crunchy as fermented pickles
  • are ready to eat right away

The choice is yours – you might want to make some of each!

How to make old-fashioned lactofermented pickles (after the break…)For each quart of pickles,

1. Make a brine of 1.5-2 tablespoons pickling salt and 2 cups of water. Make sure all the salt dissolves completely.

DSCN15862. Put spices into the bottom of a quart-sized canning jar. Suggestions: 1 dill flower or 4 dill fronds, 2-3 cloves of garlic (slice or crush for stronger flavor), 1 Tbs of Pickling Spice mix. Or, try 2 Tbs ground horseradish, 1 Tbs mustard seeds, fresh dill, and 1/2 a small onion.

3. Pack the jar as tightly as possible with small, whole cucumbers. Cucumbers under 3″ long are the best – the smaller the cuke, the crunchier the pickle.

4. IMPORTANT: Anything that sticks out of the bring will get moldy. Try to wedge the top pickles in in a way that prevents the smaller cucumbers from floating. For large batches, you can use some kind of weight (a jar of water, a plate with a sterilized rock, a freezer bag full of brine) to keep the pickles submerged.

5. Pour brine over the cucumbers and spices. Cap loosely and let sit at temps between 60 and 80 degrees for about a week before eating.

6. Refrigerate to stop further fermentation.

Notes:

  • Mold is ugly, but not fatal. You can clean any moldy bits out of your pickle jar and safely eat the remaining pickles.
  • You can put grape, cherry, or oak leaves in the jar; some folks think this keeps pickles crispier
  • You can pickle any firm, not-sweet vegetable. Carrots, daikon, zucchini, turnips, etc. are all good bets.
  • The spices are up to your imagination; try anything that sounds good! Curry powder pickles were a favorite among our samples.
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