Time to ferment one of the most popular cartooned vegetables – the tap dancing, sun-tanning, super-hero’ing fella.
He now serves a higher purpose: being healthy and edible! Lacto-fermented pickles are an easy, traditional alternative to the vinegar and canning method.And it only takes a few minutes of prep followed by a 3-day wait period where you do… nothing!
As with most fermented things, lacto-fermented cucumbers are both science and art. It’s a basic idea with many spins. Search Google for lacto-fermented pickles and you’ll find over 58 thousand pages.
The basic recipe is simply water, salt and cucumbers. But, there are many other ingredients we can “stir into the pot” to amp up the flavour and success.
These dill and garlic tainted pickles offer a tasty dose of healthy living bacteria for our immune systems and better digestion from the lactobacilli creating lactic acid (a natural preservative). Sally Fallon, a huge proponent of traditional fermentation “just the way our foremothers did it”, digs into lactobacilli in her book Nourishing Traditions – a must read if you’re keen on the topic.
Now onwards with the art…
(I used more sea salt instead of the whey, it turns out well also. After the second day or so, the jars get cloudy. No need to worry, this is simply a by-product of the fermentation process.)
2. Cover the jar tightly with lid and allow to sit at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat, for 3 days. At that time, you can open the jar and give your fellas a try. See if you’re happy with the taste. If your taste buds would like ‘em to be more sour/softer simply leave them out at room temperature another day or two longer.
3. When they’re up to snuff, transfer to refrigeration. Remember these aren’t the vinegar pickles, they’ll be a bit sour and salty, and maybe even a touch bitter. They could store in the fridge for up to 4 months, but their dilly deliciousness probably won’t last that long.
With all that information floating on the internet, there are many variations on this recipe including adding grape leaves for crispiness, giving the cukes an ice bath, chopping off the tops of the cukes, and adding other vegetables like onions or peppers. I say start with the basics, and then get more artsy as you learn.
Still iffy about the whole lacto-fermenting thing? Next post I’ll answer some beginner questions to help you out, motivate you, and take away the intimidation.