Fermented Dill Pickles…Experiments in the Kitchen

by Courtney on September 12, 2010

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I’m positive my readers are sick of my preserving posts. I cant help myself, forgive me. Preserving ,like baking is a science.Maybe my long dormant genetics of coming from a long line of scientists and doctors, is coming up and revealing itself and manifesting itself in the kitchen. I have always embraced the artistic and creative maternal side. What I do know is that my kitchen is becoming a laboratory of sorts with crocks fermenting, bottles of this and that brewing, and I love it!
I have always loved a good sour Kosher Dill pickle. A childhood treat would be my parents allowing me to pick one from a  wooden barrel to eat. That crispy crunchy pickle with flavors of garlic and dill were a taste bud treat for my little mouth. It wasn’t until years later I found out that the taste and process is through lactic acid fermentation. Sauerkraut,pickles, kimchee,cheese, yogurt, wines, beer, etc all get their unique flavors as acidity increases thereby causing the flavors, colors to change and develop over a period of around three weeks. The beauty of science! If you want to know more about wild fermentation , this is an excellent resource.

Now once you have your product you can take one of two routes. As the lactobacilli which are produced are considered healthy for us and our bodies, to process it would be to kill those beneficial properties.Fully fermented products can be stored in original container in the refrigerator for 4-6 months.However if you can process the product and retain the flavor and extend the life. As its just the two of us , I was worried on being able to consume my batch of pickles during that time frame, I took the canning route.Plus I want to give some away, so canning was the better option for me. However one day when time permits, I will keep a batch ‘live ‘ and consume.

I did not use whole cucumbers, but chose the riskier option of making dill chips. The risk is that slicing can result in a soggier product. I found my slices were not too soggy and acceptable.I did go a little heavy on the salt, erring on the side of caution. But they were still good. Next time I will slightly reduce the salt, as I used  to about 1/2 cup for 3 large cucumbers sliced.  I threw in some garlic cloves from  my Wisconsin grown garlic, some dried chilies, dried dill( fresh is even better!),mustard seeds, and my favorite whole allspice. The seasoning mix is up to you. The following is my process, however be sure to read this great link as well.

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Fermented Dill Pickles

makes approx 4 pints

*adapted loosley from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009.

makes approx 4 pints depending on amounts of cucumbers used

  • 3-4 lbs whole 4 inch organic and unwaxed pickling cucumbers or about 3 large thickly sliced( as I used)
  • 2 tbsp dried dill or several fresh sprigs of fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Pickling Salt. Do not used iodized salt!
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar with an acidity of 5%
  • water to cover weighted vegetables in a crock or food grade container

Seasonings:

  • 4 whole cloves of garlic
  • 4 dried chili peppers
  • 2 tbsp hot mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp whole allspice
  1. Wash cucumbers and slice (optional).Be sure to cut of 1/16 end of blossom slice and discard. This part is toxic, so its important to remove.
  2. In your crock or food grade container, place  your seasonings.
  3. Add thickly sliced cucumber.
  4. Dissolve salt and vinegar. Add enough water to cover( depending on size of crock).
  5. Cover cucumbers  with a saucer,or plate that fits within the crock.
  6. Weight down the plate, with another type of cylinder container (filled with water and lidded).
  7. Cover Crock with  plastic bag or cheese cloth.
  8. Place aside for 3 weeks, checking a few times each week.
  9. Ideal temperature for storage are 70 -75 degrees  thereby only needing 3-4 weeks of fermentation.
  10. Lower temps of 55-65 degrees require a longer fermentation of 5-6 weeks
  11. Any excessive temperature of over 80  degrees will result in a soft pickle and bad fermentation
  12. Check surfaces for any mold or scum that may form. If this occurs remove. I have never developed any mold on my few projects.
  13. If pickles become too slimy, soft or have a bad order, discard immediately and do not consume.
  14. After full fermentation store in original crock in the fridge in its brine for 4-6 months.

or

  1. Heat brine and its spices.
  2. Pack pickles in sterilized jars  with a bit of the garlic and chilies from the brine.
  3. Pour hot brine over pickles.
  4. Seal lids.
  5. Process in water bath for 10 minutes in sterilized jars.
  6. 15 min for high altitudes for extended shelf life.
  7. * note processing may contribute to  some additional softness.

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