Crunchy Fermented Dill Pickles
This summer has been unusually wet and cool here in NY. And while it means worrying about flooding basements and unripe tomatoes, it also means tons and tons of cucumbers. And lets face it, not having to water the garden at all has been a nice relief. Tons of cucumbers means tons of dill pickles because there’s only so much cucumber salad a family of 3 can eat! I wanted to make lacto-fermented pickles, as opposed to vinegar-based pickles this year because lacto-fermentation makes for super healing foods. These dill pickles are crunchy and tart, with just the right combination of dill, garlic, and saltiness. They just might be my new favorite snack.
Crunchy Fermented Dill Pickles
1 large cucumber = 1 pint.
6 large cucumbers, washed and spines removed
3 tbsp fresh dill weed, chopped
2 bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, and chopped (I like garlic!)
To make whey: Check out this post or let raw milk sit for a week or so on the counter until it separates into curds and whey. Strain through a cheesecloth to get the whey, and add a bit of sea salt to the curds for a delicious food. You can also use kefir whey.
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp juniper berries
Slice the cucumbers anyway you want to. I sliced 3 large cucumbers into wedge spears and 3 into sandwich slices. Put all the cucumbers into a large bowl and cover with ice and filtered water. Let them soak for 3 hours. In the refrigerator is best, but I didn’t have room at the time, so mine sat on the counter, covered.
Watch out for the spines…ouch!
Sliced up for sandwiches!
Chop up the fresh dill and garlic and mix together in a bowl. Add the sea salt (any sea salt will do, but I like the added boost of iodine in the sea salt with sea vegetables mix).
Add ½ cup of whey or follow Donna’s instructions for reviving the Caldwell veggie packet: “add ½ cup of water then add Caldwell veggie culture. Feed it a little sugar to wake it up about 1 tsp and stir till dissolved. The sugar will be consumed quickly by the bacteria cultures, and there is no need to worry about the added sugar.”
I used whey for mine. Alternatively, you can skip both the Caldwell and the whey and just allow what ever natural bacteria is already on the vegetables to ferment them. This will require a longer time, but can be done.
Gorgeous curds and whey.
Add the rest of the spices – coriander seed, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Mix all together well.
After 3 hours, stuff the pickles into the glass jars. I was able to fit 1 cucumber per pint jar. They should be snug. Divide up the seasoning mix between your jars and try and stuff it down between the cukes. Fill to 1 inch from the top with filtered water and try to get all the pickles below the water line. If they are above, they can grow mold, which is harmless and can just be scraped off.
Open 3 red raspberry leaf tea bags and sprinkle them on top of the cucumbers and seasoning. The tea leaves have tannins, which are one of the keys to making crisp dill pickles (the other is the cold water soak). Other leaves that I’ve seen recommended are oak, and grape. Fresh is best, but I couldn’t find any fresh grape leaves at the grocery, I have no oak trees, and when I went to harvest fresh raspberry leaves found that my bush had been decimated by deer. In theory anything with tannins should work though.
Put the lids tightly on the jars and store them all in the coolest room of your house (but not refrigerated) for 3 days.
After 3 days, open the lids to “burp” the jars. They might pop, so don’t be surprised! Tighten the lids again, shake them a bit to stir up the spices, and put them in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process.
The dill pickles should last refrigerated, for at least 9 months. You may want to burp them once a week or so.
Check out these other tasty fermented veggie recipes: