Have you ever wanted to…
• make your own pickles, but became discouraged and overwhelmed with the amount of work involved with traditional recipes?
• make just one — or two — jars of pickles and not have to deal with canning them?
• introduce more probiotics into your diet, without the time, unpredictability and potential odors associated with fermenting your own vegetables?
Well, here’s a recipe that’s the answer to all of the above. These quick, easy and delicious fermented pickles are made right in the jar. They take very little work or prep time and are delicious, healthful and ready to eat in a week. Not bad for about half an hour of work!
I spent years searching for a recipe that would result in pickles that tasted just as good as the barrel-fermented ones I ate as a kid. “Manufactured” pickles pale in comparison. Like other prepared foods (or embalmed, as I think of them), they’re soaked in artificial ingredients and their goodness has been cooked out of them through pasteurization and high-heat canning processes.
Recently, fermented foods are becoming available at some grocery stores, which is handy if you don’t want the satisfaction of making your own or the privilege of adjusting seasonings to your own liking.
But to me, nothing tastes better than homemade. And nothing tastes better than a homemade something that was also quick and easy to make!
Last summer I finally found a recipe that not only resulted in great-tasting pickles, but also included natural lacto-fermentation plus raw vinegar, which takes the worry and extended wait time out of the fermentation process.
Now, when my garden is just beginning to produce pickling cucumbers and I don’t have enough to start an entire crock, I make one jar at a time using this recipe. You can make more than one quart at a time, just adjust the ingredients accordingly.
Lacto-Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles
Makes 1 quart
Recipe adapted from A Platter of Figs, David Tannis
• 5-6 medium pickling cucumbers (about 1 lb) – look for firm, unblemished, bumpy ones
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
• 1 sprig thyme
• 1 sprig oregano
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 small bunch of dill
• 3-4 small grapevine leaves (optional, but keeps the pickles crisp)
• 2 tsp coriander seeds
• 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1-2 TB sea salt (I prefer a rounded tablespoon)
• 1-1/2 cups filtered water
• 1/2 cup raw, unfiltered cider vinegar
1. Wash the cucumbers, but don’t scrub them (you want to leave some lactobacillus bacteria on them) and rub off any spines.
2. Trim about 1/8 inch off the blossom end of the cucumbers. This removes an enzyme that can make your pickles limp. I also cut the cucumbers into halves or quarters so they fit together better in the jar.
3. Put the other Main Ingredients in a 1 quart largemouth canning jar and then pack cucumbers in as tightly as possible (try not to bruise them in the process).
4. Mix the brine ingredients together in a bowl and then pour the mixture into the jar to cover the cucumbers completely, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.
5. Cover with a canning jar lid and band, write the date or day on the jar (a Sharpie works), place the jar in a bowl (to catch any overflow or leakage on the days the jar is inverted) and once a day, for a week, flip the jar over to redistribute the spices that will tend to settle to the bottom.
6. After a week, keep the jar in the refrigerated. Enjoy!
The original recipe said these would keep for a month in the refrigerator, but I have some that are several months old and they are just as crispy and delicious as they started out. Remember that with fermented vegetables, if they look or smell bad or appear slimy, don’t eat them!
Next I’ll be experimenting with this recipe to pickle different vegetables… any suggestions?
Deb Tejada is an urban farmer, foodie, do-it-yourselfer, graphic designer, illustrator and web developer living in sunny Colorado. When she’s not in the kitchen or garden, you can find her at The Herban Farmer.