Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Old Fashioned Pickles

Making chunks
My people hate to see produce go to waste so when my mother called and asked if she should bring some over-sized cucumbers up on her next visit, the answer was an automatic, "of course."  I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

A few years ago we started lacto-fermenting vegetables.  We never went into it in a big way, it was just something I did now and again.  Frankly, I ended up eating most of them and what I didn't eat went to the chickens.

Still we were involved enough that I bought a crock just for the process, and then we ended up not using it.  It has sat stored in our closet for years, until now.

The cucumbers were large, the kids have been gorging themselves on pickles recently, so I decided to make pickle chunks with them.
Keep in mind that I like my pickles with a little bit of a kick, the recipe was drawn from the book Wild Fermentation and went something like this:

Into bottom of crock place:
  • a dozen peppercorns
  • two pinches dried dill
  • one palm of dried chili peppers
  • a few shakes of garlic powder (to my shame we were out of garlic)
  • a dozen green oak leaves (any source of tannin  would work to help keep the pickles crisp)

Pickles and brine drained from the crock
 Then I added enough chunked cucumbers to fill the crock and a salt water brine (3T salt for every gallon of water) to cover.
Prepare to be canned

Then I let it sit in the cool garage for about a week.  Most advice calls for the crock to be checked daily and the removal of any mold.  I was mold free until the last day when I brought the pickles into the house.

We ended up with more than seven quarts of sour pickles.  They were a little salty for my taste but they could be rinsed before serving.  We also decided to try canning what would not be consumed in just a couple of days.

I am sure they would have stored fine in the fridge but I wanted to see how they taste after the canning process.  I would like to do more of this in the future, if it looks like I can store the harvest well into the next year.

Each jar of pickles received one oak leaf and was half-filled with brine and tap water to the shoulder before canning.

About two weeks after canning the pickles I opened up a can.  They had lost some of that fresh crispness in the middle of each chuck but along the cucumber rind they retained a nice snappy crunch.

A wonderful experiment we'll look forward to expanding upon next year.

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