Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fermenting Dill Pickles

I took the plunge and finally tried the fermentation process to make sour deli-style pickles.  Now that I'm comfortable with the hot water bath canning process and have had many successful fridge pickle attempts, I wanted a new challenge.  Last year while on vacation in Cape Cod, I found a beautiful crock at an antique store. I inspected it for damage and found none. It is the perfect tool to use in my experiment.

I washed the crock thoroughly before using it.  We picked up gorgeous little pickling cucumbers at the Alderney farmers' market and gave them a good wash (in plain cold water) and scrub.  Make sure to use pickling cucumbers (Kirby is a good variety) that are fresh. Tip: they aren't covered in wax like those sold at grocery stores and as a result, you need to use them quickly- they don't have a long life even if in the fridge.  I try to use them either the same day, or next day, after getting them at the market.

We took off the blossom end (they can spoil the pickle flavour) of each cucumber.  I prepared a brine of 2 litres of spring water with 6 tablespoons of sea salt, bringing it to a boil so it would dissolve.  I put about 6 cloves of garlic in the bottom of the crock and 4 heads of dill weed (also bought at the farmers' market this morning).  Then, I put the cucumbers in until they filled the crock about 3/4 of the way to the top.  I poured the brine solution over them.

I then filled a small ziploc bag with water and placed it over the top of them as a weight to keep the cucumbers submerged.  Then, put the crock's lid in place and set it on our buffet in the dining room.  I'll transfer the crock to a cool, dark place (likely our storage room in the basement) and will check in and skim it daily.  I'm excited to see how this works! I'll post updates as it progresses.

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