Fermentation – The Waiting Game

Time to  start another project. This one is based on harvest. It’s pickle time! These pickles are going to be fermented first for about 3-6 weeks. The recipe is – 4-5lbs pickling cucumbers. They should be about 4″ long.

The Brine
8 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt, NOT KOSHER. It must be pickling salt, there is a big difference in salinity in various types of salt
1/4 vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cloves of garlic smashed
2 dried red chili peppers
5 dill fresh blossoms. You can use dried dill instead of fresh 2 Tbs.

Wash the cucumbers in room temperature water. Then be sure to cut about 1/16″ off the blossom end.

The blossom end has enzymes that will make the pickle soft and sometimes unsafe to eat. Dissolve salt in water and vinegar. Layer your cucumbers into a crock (mine is a 2 Gal), add the garlic, chili’s and dill and cover with the brine. Be sure to weigh the cucumbers down so they are below the liquid. Put in a cool place 70-75 degrees is best. Check them often as you may need to skim the top of the brine as scum will form. After 3 weeks it’s time to start seeing how they’re doing. They should be olive green in color, but not soft or slimy.

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Who’s got my pickle?

Ok so many of you probably don’t remember this classic commercial from Heinz back in 1977, but I can tell you I was singing the jingle all day yesterday!

Why? Well first it’s really catchy and it’s pretty easy to remember the words. But all that aside it was Pickle-Palooza day. I harvested a bunch of cucumbers and went to town! (No, really I had to go to town, I didn’t have enough vinegar)

Once I got home the smell of fresh dill and sliced cucumbers filled the air.

Batch # 1 - Kosher Dills

Batch # 1 – Kosher Dills

If you’re going to do a variety of pickles be sure to separate your cucumbers by size so you have uniform pickles. I used the longer ones to make the spears.

I was so fortunate to have started my dill early from seed. If you’ve not grown dill, or purchased it don’t confuse the dill weed you see in little packets in the grocery store. What you need are the blossoms! This is where the flavor is.

Dill can get over 4 feet tall

Dill can get over 4 feet tall

Cut the yellow blossoms off and rinse them gently. You don’t want to wash all pollen off.

Dill Blossoms

Dill Blossoms

I rinse them while on the stocks as it’s easier to control them. Then they get trimmed down to just the blossoms.

Trimmed Dill Flowers

Trimmed Dill Flowers

The colors are just so vibrant. This is what they mean when they say “it’s yellow”.

Other key spices for pickles are mustard seeds and dill seed, along with some tumeric, coriander, black pepper and a host of others. I find it’s much easier to buy a pre-made pickling mixture and enhance it to my tastes. In this case, dill and mustard.

Magic is about to happen!

Magic is about to happen!

I don’t about you, but I so love it when I find a really good deli and get a sandwich that is made with good bread and a creamy mayo. However, if my plate doesn’t have a crunchy dill pickle on it I feel cheated.

Pack them tight as they will shrink a bit during the process.

Pack them tight as they will shrink a bit during the process.

I wish you could smell this. My next batch is going to be a long brine process. I want to do pickle tastings like wine tastings, at each phase in the process.

Kosher Treasure

Kosher Treasure

It doesn’t take long and you will be rewarded with jars of Kosher Treasure. But don’t stop there! If you’re gonna make pickles, go big!

Slice some up with some onions for Bread and Butter pickles. These are tangy with some sweetness that lends itself to be a perfect condiment with smoked meats!

Enjoy these 'coins' with smoked meats and BBQ.

Enjoy these ‘coins’ with smoked meats and BBQ.

I had a few extra cucumbers left over and I know how much hubby loves sweet relish on hotdogs. Make it easy and chop up the cucumbers in a food processor, add some red onion and then you salt them and let them sit for 2 hours. This softens them up before you cook them in the brine mixture. If you cook them for too long you’ll evaporate too much of your liquid.

Cucumbers will start to release moisture right away.

Cucumbers will start to release moisture right away.

I love how the red onion and cucumbers look together.

I love how the red onion and cucumbers look together.

Sweet relish complete.

Sweet relish complete.

All in all it was a great day!

The Pickle Bounty

The Pickle Bounty

I am hoping for another large batch of cucumbers. So many options I want to try.

What’s your favorite pickle?