It is a bounty year for cucumbers so I thought I would try my first batch of fermented pickles. I have made vinegar cukes before but am experimenting with fermenting since it is much healthier for our digestive tracts! I made cucumber chips because my cucumbers got big before I harvested them, but you could also use small pickling cucumbers. You will need enough to fill your jar tightly with 1 inch space at top. I happen to have grapes and rhubarb in the garden so I used a leaf from each in my pickles (on top of liquid) and they came out great. Nice and crispy!
EASY FERMENTED PICKLES
3 large fresh organic cucumbers (pickling are best, but you can use any fresh cucumbers), rinse well and pat dry
2 TBS sea salt
4 to 6 peppercorns
½ onion, sliced into thin rounds
2 TBS fresh dill, finely chopped or ½ tsp dried dill, plus 1/8 teaspoon dill seed if you really like dill flavor
Fresh grape or rhubarb leaves for top of jar to help keep pickles firm (optional)
TBS juice from previously fermented vegetables (to boost fermentation)
1. Cut cucumbers into thin slices, cut off the blossom end and discard (it can make for soft pickles).
2. Place cucumbers, onion, salt, and dill into large CLEAN glass jar (I run them through the dishwater or use boiling water to clean).
3. Pour filtered water to cover (add extra fermented juice, if using. It is not necessary so don’t fret it you don’t have any!). Make sure ALL the ingredients are completely covered with liquid before you set lid on loosely.
4. Give a little shake to dissolve salt.
5. Place a fresh grape leaf or rhubarb leaf on top before covering with lid (this helps keep pickles firm). – OPTIONAL
6. Let sit loosely covered on kitchen counter for 2 to 3 days, depending on your taste preference.
7. Check every day for taste. They will start to get a little bubbly. That is SUPPOSED to happen, so all is good. Make sure all ingredients stay UNDER the liquid. Push them down below liquid with wooden spoon. They ferment faster in warmer weather. When you like the sourness screw lid on tight and put in refrigerator. They are now ready to eat and will last for up to 6 months if kept refrigerated.
NOTE: If the pickles are slimy or smell “off” they are no good so don’t eat them. This usually only happens if they don’t stay below the liquid in the jar. Using the grape/rhubarb leaf at the top helps keep them under the liquid. Everytime you check them, push them down with a wooden spoon. I have never had any fermented vegetables get slimy, but it can happen occasionally. I think the secret is checking them often and adding a little bit of water if necessary to keep them covered.