In a Pickle, Yet Again

The cruel irony of gardening is this: the same weather that makes everything grow and produce is also weather that makes one loath to run a hot water canner. Seriously, it is 95F today in central MA. I am not going make my kitchen even more humid and uncomfortable by boiling a large volume of water.

So, what to do with the glut of cucumbers in the Food It Yourself garden? I specifically chose a pickling variety because I like making pickles, and Mr. Food It Yourself likes eating them. Then I remembered, I can make fermented pickles! Vegetable preservation is totally possible without the hot kitchen, all thanks to our friends, the Lactobacilli.

I searched the internet for Alton Brown’s recipe for half sours, a classic lacto-fermented pickle if ever there was one. It did not take long to find the YouTube video from Good Eats that shows the entire process. Here are the ingredients, so you don’t have to write while you watch.

  • 3 pounds of 3-5 inch long cucumbers
  • 1 gallon filtered or bottled water
  • 5.5 ounces of pickling salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1 large bunch of dill fronds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper corns
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flake.

I do not have a pickle crock, so my method was just a little different than Mr. Brown’s. I scrubbed down two of those fermentation lids I bought when I made kimchee, as well as two half-gallon, wide mouth, jars. Here is how it all came together.

Step one: dissolve the salt in the water. While the salt dissolved, I harvested my cucumbers.
Hello, gorgeous! I know the leaves look a little droopy, but that is just how plants cope with the heat. They’re fine.
Three pounds, on the nose! The droopy leaves actually made it easier to see the cucumbers. I’ll water everything later.
Technically, you only have to trim the blossom end of the cucumbers, but I trim both ends, for symmetry.
Setting the jars on their side made arranging the cucumbers much easier.
I divided the spices between the jars. I left out the dill, as Mr. Food It Yourself is not a fan. I worried that 2 cloves of garlic might not be enough, but it turns out I bought garlic with gigantic cloves. One for each jar should be fine.
Finally, time for the brine! I ladled the brine into each jar to cover the cucumbers. On the left, you can see the top layer of cucumbers floating in the brine. On the right is a quick and easy solution to keep the cukes under water- a 4 ounce canning jar dropped on top of the floaters. You can buy glass or ceramic weights to accomplish the same thing. Buy why would you if you already have the 4 ounce jars?
Nothing more to do but put on my fermenting lids and let the jars hang out in a cool dark cabinet. There are multiple models of fermenting lids available. The important part is that you clean them well before using them. Alright Lactobacilli, do your thing!

We will not know the outcome for at least a week. I am pretty excited to try these pickles. I do enjoy a day of canning, but today was not the right day. I think I came up with a good work-around for making sure my cucumbers would not go to waste.

What is a good work-around or life hack you have come up with in your DIYet? Share in the comments!