Lacto-Fermented (Kosher) Pickles
This recipe is my semi-feeble attempt to recreate my childhood trips to Jewish delis with my Grandpa Goldin. He would sit and chat to his buddies, while I ate Matzo Ball soup with matzos as big as my head and ask the chap behind the counter for the biggest pickle in the bucket.
This recipe is really more of a guide. I’ve used cucumbers here, but that was only luck that i was given a glut when writing this. I more frequently use carrots, runner beans and french beans. I also mix up the spices - for carrots I like ginger and garlic, but overall, my first love is always dill. This brine recipe is really the lesson here. For brining any veg, I use the basic ratio of 1 tablespoon or about 16g of salt to 1 litre of water. This creates about a 16% salinity, which adds a nice salty kick to your pickles. However, you can go down to 7% and still lacto ferment your veg. The acidity you need for preservation is created from the fermentation and the lactic acid bacteria you are creating a nice environment for.
I’ve chopped the cukes here, but you really don’t need to. You can leave them whole, just adjust the time for fermentation.
64g of Salt (I like Kosher or Sea Salt Flakes)
2 Litres of water
4-6 grape, oak, horseradish, or bay leaves (these add tannins to help the veg stay crunchy)
6-9 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large heads of dill
Spices to taste: black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, etc.
Enough pickling cucumbers to fill 2x 2 litre jars.
Make a brine by dissolving the salt into the water. (Note: this recipe will possibly make more than what is needed, you may save extra brine to be used in future ferments.)
Place the tannin-containing leaves, a few cloves of garlic, the heads of dill, and ⅓ of the spices into the bottom of your jars
Pack half of the cucumbers tightly on top of the spices. (The longest ones work best at the bottom to hold the veg down.
Repeat a layer of leaves, garlic, and spices. Add another tightly packed layer of cucumbers and top them off with more garlic and spices.
Pour the brine over the pickles, leaving 1-2 inches of headspace. Place another tannin-containing leaf on top of the pickles as a cover between the pickles and the surface of the brine. Use a fermentation weight to keep the pickles under the liquid, if necessary. Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
Ferment at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavour and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure. The brine should turn cloudy and bubbly, and the pickles should taste sour when done.
Eat right away, or store in a refrigerator or a cool shed for months and enjoy them all winter long.