Friday, August 25, 2017

Fermenting Dill Pickles

As we break records for the number of rain-free days, the Corentine cucumber plants have been producing well with dedicated watering. My 'E~Z Picklers' have been put into full production, with several jars fermenting at once. The extra fridge that I call my 'chocolate fridge', (because it was purchased to accommodate my Handmade Truffles), is now operating and filling fast with nine quarts far... of half sour and full sour dill pickles. 'Half Sour' is a deli term referring to pickles in a brine of water and salt. With the 'E~Z Pickler', fermented, half sour dill pickles are easily transformed into 'Full Sours' by adding a small, measured amount of apple cider vinegar AFTER fermentation.
E~Z Pickler, fermenting dills
Lacto-fermented or brined pickles are made at room temperature using raw vegetables and just a saltwater brine. They are not preserved by cooking or canning. There is no need for a culture or starter because a spontaneous fermentation is created by beneficial lactic acid microbes that live on the produce. This is also known as fresh cultured, and lacto-fermented vegetables are self-preserving. After a few days of fermenting at a comfortable room temperature, they only need refrigeration. When pickling is complete, they are still raw, but have transformed into a more digestible food that stays fresh for months in the refrigerator.

Brine Pickling Basics with the 'E~Z Pickler' 
Follow the directions exactly and don't reduce amounts of salt. Don't make dill pickles as your first attempt. We all have a memory of these classic pickles but they were most likely canned in a hot vinegar solution. Fresh brine pickles have a sour taste without vinegar and don't contain additives to make the cucumbers stay crisp. First become successful and familiar with pickling firm vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and daikon radish. 
After a few batches, you can move to cucumbers which need a more practiced skill level.
~ Use filtered water; chlorine, soft or hard water may affect culture 
~ Use unrefined, mineral sea salt - do not use table, pickling or kosher style salt 
~ Use fresh vegetables; organic or untreated, locally grown and in season are best
The first few quarts, ready for the fridge
Storing Finished Pickles 
Once the pickles are finished fermenting at room temperature, store them in the refrigerator. These are not shelf stable pickles. Remove the fermenting lid assembly and separator cup then store in glass jars with the 2-piece snap lid; screw on, then slightly loosen. Mark the date on each jar. Pickles continue to ferment in the fridge at a slower rate. Brine pickles stay fresh in the fridge for 4-9 months... if they last that long!!

After you've eaten all the pickles use the brine in salad dressings or to make lightly pickled vegetables. I have heard the brine called the 'new Gatorade', rich in probiotics and electrolytes. I am not suggesting drinking a large amount but a little shot of chilled brine on a hot day is very refreshing!

I've had a great time at the Denman Island Saturday Farmer's Market this summer. Chatting with and meeting many food enthusiasts from around our province and some from as far away as Australia, Ireland and Germany to name a few. I welcome you to my Blog and look forward to comments and feedback from the new owners of my 'E~Z Pickler'!
Till next time... Happy Fermenting and Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae

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