After experimenting with fermenting cabbage and producing a delicious sauerkraut, I turned my sights to fermented pickles. I can remember my Dad fermenting pickles from the garden in a huge Blue Crown crock. The fermented pickles always tasted so much better than heat-processed, canned pickles. The flavor of the spices stood out, the sourness was superior to that produced by vinegar alone, and they stayed crunchy. I read post after post and tried recipe after recipe and settled on something that combined the best of all of them. They really did turn out superbly–a little spicy, a little garlicky, and a whole lotta crunchy. No limp, squeaky, bland pickles here! Best news, unlike other ferments that take a month or two, this one took only 9 days to produce a fantastic pickle!
- 5 wide-mouthed quart jars, sterilized
- 5 smaller jars (I use 4 ounce) jars, sterilized
- Sterilized tongs
- 5 rounds of parchment paper, cut to fit just inside of quart jars
- 5 sections of cheesecloth and 5 lengths of twine to cover jars
- 12 cups of filtered water
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 5 red chili peppers, diced
- 5 bay leaves
- 5 teaspoons dried dill
- 5, 1/2 tsp loose green tea leaves (oolong is a good choice too)
- 5, 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns (more or less to taste)
- 20 pickling cucumbers, washed (free of bruises and soft spots)
Bring 6 cups water and all of the salt to a boil over high heat. Off heat add 6 cups water and the vinegar. Let cool to room temperature.
Place 2 garlic cloves, 1 diced chili pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 tsp loose green tea leaves, and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns in the bottom of each quart jar.
Pack with cucumbers (usually about 4 or so fit). Cover cucumbers by about an inch and a half with brine. Save the remaining brine and place in the fridge in case jars need to be topped off during the fermentation period.
Place a parchment round on top of the cucumbers, submerged in the brine. Place a smaller jar on top of the round and cucumbers to hold the cucumbers down.
Place a square of cheesecloth over each jar and secure with kitchen twine to keep dust out. Keep your jars at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Check daily to make sure cucumbers are covered in brine, top off if necessary, and skim any scum that might form. If the cheesecloth gets damp, replace it. The brine will get cloudy and bubbles will form, and the cucumbers will turn from the bright green of a cucumber to the darker, olive-green color of a pickle. Mine were perfect at 9 days, but taste as you go and move them to the fridge when you achieve the flavor you want (sources say the cucumbers can sit for up to 21 days at room temperature). Voila! Easy fermented pickles!