I came home from being away for 3 weeks in Canada to a very advanced veggie garden ! Good news, right ? Well, except for the apparent cucumber plant, one of many “surprise” varieties of plants that my dear friend Carol Reid-Gaillard gave me. I found myself with some plants that turned out to be a “pickling cuke” variety. If you have every grown these you will know that the fruit pop out every other day like little firecrackers. If you miss the perfect size you have BIG bitter cucumbers.
So in my jet-lagged state, I was ready to throw in the towel until I thought of the lovely Marie who has many pickling ideas up her sleeve. I proceeded to leave little parcels on her doorstep and she has successfully pickled the little bumpy creatures.
I am know rested, with a bit more time and head space, so ready to give this a go myself …. I’ve decided to go the “lacto-fermentation” route for the added health benefits (Kathleen Garnett writes an interesting article about this). I believe that the original Jewish Dill Pickle was made this way.
Well it couldn’t have been easier !
- pickling or small cucumbers (scrubbed well if prickly)
- a brine made using 2 Tablespoons of sea salt to 1 liter of water
- fresh grape, horseradish or oak leaves (I used grape and horseradish), which help keep the cukes crisp
- a mixture of herbs and spices that you think sound good for pickles ! I used mustard seeds, fresh garlic cloves, fresh ginger slices, black peppercorns, fresh dill seeds and flowers and cracked coriander seeds.
- a mason jar and lid.
- something that just fits inside the mason jar, like a little plate, to keep the fruit submerged in the brine. A perfect fit for me was a “anti-remonte lait” which is a little glass disc used to place in a pan of milk to avoid overflowing when it comes to a boil ! A genius invention that we use when making yoghurt.
So cut up those cukes however you fancy. Mine where all different sizes so I didn’t even try to stand them all up beautifully in the jar. Add your spices and herbs to the bottom of the jar, pack in the cucumbers with the grape / horseradish leaves tucked in (maybe 3 or 4 per jar). Pour over your brine to cover the fruit and weigh them down to keep them under the liquid. Close the lid tightly and place in a cool place (inferior to 26° C is good) for at least 3 or 4 days.
I am absolutely no expert on this method, and will let you know how they turn out 😉 For some really in-depth information on the fermentation of vegetable and fruit Sandor Katz is your man…..
UPDATE 30 July 2015 : Happy to announce that 4 days later this pickles are REALLY GOOD and going into the fridge (where I suspect they will not last long). Everyone in the family loves them, my “not so sure at first” kids included. They smell and taste like great quality NYC Deli style pickles…. Wow, I’m off to the garden to pick more little cucumbers to make a few more jars ….
UPDATE 31 July 2015: 2nd batch ….. I changed the spices a bit to fresh dill flowers, fresh garlic and ginger, cracked black peppercorns and coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds.
Bon appetît !