In the midst of my August pickling fervor, I took a moment to fondly look back at my first post about naturally fermenting veggies. It’s hard to believe it was only a year and a half ago. Now, pickle jars line our counters and the doors and shelves of the fridge (yes – the photos below accurately illustrate our current fridge situation. It’s gotten a little bit out of hand. Luckily for those who want to chill food that is not pickled, we have two fridges). Though each member of our household has varying degrees of enthusiasm for fermentation, each person can tell you their favorite kind of pickle and how to make it. The best thing about making pickles? It’s easy!
If you’re new to fermentation, make sure to take a moment to read my original “Fermenting Foods” post – I wrote it as a newbie to the process and include some more detail and background information. Below, find quick steps for getting started – you’ll notice everything is quite flexible and open to experimentation!
Natural Fermentation Pickles: Good for your digestion, delicious, and fun to make!
- Pack a wide mouth canning jar with sliced veggies. I love using carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, radishes, or green beans.
- For each quart of packed veggies, add either 1 tablespoon salt or 1 teaspoon salt + 1/4 cup brine or whey. Brine is the liquid you get from a previous batch of naturally fermented pickles. Whey is the liquid you get from straining plain yogurt. Adding these liquids guarantees the introduction of lactobacillus – the kind of bacteria you want growing in your jar. It also means you need less salt to ensure correct preservation.
- Pack everything down even more. After a few hours, the salt will bring water out of your veggies. Some have enough water to cover themselves in liquid. If not, fill your jar the rest of the way up with water.
- Leave jar in a bowl in case liquid over flows. Make sure it’s in a place where you can keep an eye on it!
- Push everything down each day, allowing air to be released and ensuring that all ingredients are in an anaerobic (covered in liquid) environment.
- Taste daily. When your pickles have soured to the flavor you’d like, put them in the fridge. Depending on the temperature in your house, this can take 3-10 days. Putting your pickles in the fridge or cold storage slows the souring process waaaaay down – they can last for a long time. We’ve eaten some that are over a year old!
- If you get some white filmy mold on top, don’t worry. You can scrape it off – it won’t hurt you. This only happens to me when I make pickles during the really hot and humid months of the summer.
Quick Vinegar Refrigerator Pickles: If you’re hesitant to eat “alive” foods, but want to enjoy pickles from your garden harvest, try this quick easy method.
- Heat 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and whichever of the following ingredients you’d like: sugar (try 2 teaspoons), mustard seed (1 teaspoon), pickling spices (1 teaspoon) and/or garlic (1 clove cracked). Simmer until salt and/or sugar dissolves.
- Pack a canning jar (or any glass jar with a tightly fitting lid) with sliced cucumbers, green beans, or other veggies. Include some fronds of dill or a bay leaf if you’d like.
- Pour your hot brine over your packed veggies. Make sure it covers them up completely.
- Cool and allow to sit for at least a day in the fridge. They’ll get more flavor the longer they sit. Because they’re in the fridge, you don’t need to worry about all of the steps and precautions of traditional canning.
Fermenting hot sauces and salsas: Read more here – we’re still enjoying some of last year’s spicy concoctions!