Pickles are not hard to make. Don't be shy to make your own.
As many of you know, Paul is always game for preserving. He has made oodles of jams over the years and recently he has been tempted by the savory route. A couple of weeks ago, he whipped up a batch of pickles and I thought I'd share the easy recipe with you. A favorite book of Paul's, the urban homestead is filled with all sorts of practical tips for greener, simpler living. Their pickle recipe is one that uses traditional lacto-fermentation - no vinegar is needed, just salt water. Before canning or freezing, lacto-fermentation was a means of preserving the vegetable harvest.
Last week was an amazingly vibrant and particularly food-obsessed week here in Berkeley as Chez Panisse celebrated it's 40th birthday. There were endless fun and delicious events to raise money for the Edible Schoolyard Project and Eating for Education. At the Berkeley Art Museum, farmers, bakers, kids, and beekeepers set up demonstrations and shared a love of food. Teens from Oakland-based Obugs taught pickle making and they used the lacto-fermentation technique Paul had just learned. I smiled at this coincidence and my kids eagerly make their own custom batches of pickles.
INGREDIENTS adapted from the urban homesteader
- 2 tablespoons sea salt (do not use iodized salt)
- 1 quart filtered or bottled water
- enough cucumbers to fill a quart jar (note that all sorts of other veggies can be used like carrots, baby onions, green beans, cabbage, garlic...)
- flavor enhancers: dill (fresh or dried), black peppercorns, garlic cloves
- optional: grape leaf
Make your brine solution by mixing the sea salt and water.
Pack washed cucumbers into a very clean quart-sized jar. Add seasoning to your liking... a few peeled garlic cloves, some black peppercorns, and some sprigs of dill. You can also use a bit of grape leaf in the jar (a tip from Obugs) to keep the cucumber crunchier.
Pour salty water over the cucumbers until the jar is nearly full. Leave a quarter inch of breathing room before you put on the lid.
Place your jar of pickles in a dark place (not the fridge) and let the fermenting begin. Obugs recommended loosening the jar's lid every morning and tightening it back up every night. My boy Otis really liked this idea and has started to call his jar of pickles his "pet." Maybe I need to get my kid a dog!
After a few days, taste your pickles and see if they are ready to eat. Pickling can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks.
Once your pickles are done, place jar in the fridge to prolong the life.