Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pickles, the old way

After reading several books on preserving as well as several other blogs and forums I decided to give fermented pickles a try, just to see what all the hype was about.  I'm glad I did.
But first a disclaimer: If in doubt, throw it out.  Don't risk your life if you don't think something smells right, looks right, etc. just because you want to try something new.
That said and out of the way.... this is what I did:

Wanting to try this for a while I started looking for a pickle crock.  My budget screamed at the prices of a real pickle crock and I nearly gave up even thinking about trying this until I had an epiphany in the middle of Wal-Mart.  I was in the cooking gadets section, looked down and saw a glass cookie jar for a whole $8.  MUCH cheaper than the $50 to $60 (+ shipping) a crock would have run.  So I bring it home and pull up the one recipe I would be willing to give a try, after all it's Alton Brown's recipe and his normally work the best for me.
  • 5 1/2 ounces pickling salt, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 3 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6-inches long
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1 large bunch dill
Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Set aside.
Place the peppercorns, pepper flakes, garlic, dill seed and fresh dill into a 1-gallon crock. Add the cucumbers to the crock on top of the aromatics. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers in order to completely cover. Pour the remaining water into a 1-gallon ziptop plastic bag and seal. Place the bag on top of the pickles making sure that all of them are completely submerged in the brine. Set in a cool, dry place.
Check the crock after 3 days. Fermentation has begun if you see bubbles rising to the top of the crock. After this, check the crock daily and skim off any scum that forms. If scum forms on the plastic bag, rinse it off and return to the top of the crock.
The fermentation is complete when the pickles taste sour and the bubbles have stopped rising; this should take approximately 6 to 7 days. Once this happens, cover the crock loosely and place in the refrigerator for 3 days, skimming daily or as needed. Store for up to 2 months in the refrigerator, skimming as needed. If the pickles should become soft or begin to take on an off odor, this is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.

I followed this recipe to the letter with the exception of the pepper flakes, I have allergies and peppers are #1 on the list.  I did change how the crock was to be set up, I used a butter dish lid to put over the cukes and turned the glass top upside down to hold everything under the brine.  Worked pretty well actually.  Here's the hardware:
I placed my crock in my main pantry, where the cats would not be able to mess with it and knock it over.  Started it on a Monday evening, checked for flavor on Thursday and decided to wait a few more days, they just weren't quite fermented through yet.  Saturday they were ready and I put them in fridge receptacles this morning.  Let me tell you, the house smelled wonderful all week, all dill and garlic.  It was nice.  The brine did get a little cloudy, but then again our AC isn't on all the time and it doesn't get below 80 even when it's on so it was a little warm.  They taste so different it's amazing, and the crunch!  Wow!  On my to-do-again list!

What I tossed in the fridge today:


  1. Hmmm--maybe I will try this again with this recipe. Mine went bad last time!

  2. Make sure your equipment is really clean and free of cracks!