Half-Sour Pickles: Fermentation Baby Steps

Half Sour PicklesI learned the art of fermenting pickles last year and quite frankly couldn’t stop.  Watching a crisp little Gherkin transform into a tangy crunchy pickle by simply submerging it in salt water for a few weeks, well, it seemed like nothing short of a miracle.  With each batch I made, I kept thinking, that was just dumb luck.  So I’d experiment, making another batch, and behold, more pickles. Like a baby testing the effects of gravity by dropping her bottle on the floor again and again, it never ceased to surprise and delight me.

Once I had mastered it, I took the show on the road sharing the joy of old-fashioned pickling with the world.  It might have been the most well attended class that I have ever taught, and the questions, so many questions.  It seems people not only have a hunger for pickles, but the DIY know-how to make them at home.

Well, I’m here to say, that you too can ferment pickles at home—the kind of pickles that would make any Polish grandma proud.  And it couldn’t be simpler.  If you have never fermented before, the half-sour is a good stepping-stone fermented pickle—it takes only a week to make, it requires very few ingredients, and any quart jar with a lid will do.

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Half-Sour Fermented Pickles
Author: 
Recipe type: Pickle
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 1 quart
 
Half sours use a brine with a much lower salt concentration--a fresher taste in exchange for a shorter shelf life
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. pickling cucumbers, blossom-end removed
  • ¼ t peppercorns, crushed
  • ½ t pickling spice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig dill
  • 4 ½ t pickling salt
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve salt into the water.
  2. Pack all ingredients and spices into a sanitized jar and pour brine over the ingredients. Cucumbers must be submerged to ferment, so pack them tightly using a quart jar with a narrow mouth or stuff a pint-sized freezer bag filled with remaining brine into the mouth of the jar to keep cucumbers submerged.
  3. Check the jar daily and clean any scum off the top, rinsing the bag if necessary. This is just yeast.
  4. In 3 days, there should be fermentation bubbles. Once the bubbles have stopped forming in 7 or 8 days, place the jar in the fridge.
  5. Pickles will keep in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
Notes
Every cucumber has 2 ends--the stem-end on one side and the blossom-end on the other side. The blossom-end is where the flower transformed into a fruit. Shave off the blossom-end of each cuke before pickling. This will keep it firm as the blossom-end contains enzymes which soften the cucumber over time.

This Half Sour Pickles recipe was inspired the pickling guru Linda Ziedrich in her book The Joy of Pickling. for more information and recipes on pickling and fermentation see the following links:

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