Cucumber Pickles
Cucumbers are perhaps one of the quickest food to pickle. A cucumber pickle can be ready to eat in three days, compared to the weeks or months some vegetables take to be brine lacto-fermented. If you are just starting out at pickling or lacto-fermenting vegetables, make these first so that you can use the skills you learned in making these pickles to make sauerkraut, kimchi, chutneys or other more complicated pickles and you won't have to wait a month before you can enjoy the rewards of your new food preparation skills.

Take a cucumber and peel it.

Cut the cucumber in thin slices.

Pack the sliced cucumber into a clean glass jar.
Add dill, either fresh, as pictured above, or dried.

(You can eliminate the dill if you don't have it. It is not necessary to make the pickles and it is only used as a flavoring.You can also add a couple grape leaves, if you have them, which will help keep the pickles crispy.) Add 1/4 teaspoon of full-array salt for approximately every cup-full of cucumber. (Use kosher salt if you want to call your pickles kosher dills.)

[Optional: if you have it, you can add a teaspoon of whey. This will make the pickles ferment quicker, but some people find it makes them soggier, too.)
Fill the jar of cucumber with water. Put an airlock on top (a piece of plastic secured by a sturdy rubber band, do not use biodegradable plastic) and store at room temperature for 3 days to a week. Usually practice and trial and error are needed to determine the right amount of time for your environment and taste. If scum forms at the top of the jar, skim off what you can and stir the rest back into the liquid. If you shake the jar a little whenever you pass it, it will reduce the amount of scum that forms. The scum is called kahm. It is harmless and only affects the appearance of the pickle.

Alternatively, you can also pack the top of the jar with leaves to hold the cucumbers under the brine and that can be discarded when you open the jar. (I find this method the most convenient), and then cover with the airlock.
The pickles are ready when they are soft and taste sour. They should be ready to eat, and the lacto-fermented liquid should be ready to start another fermented pickle, sauerkraut or other pickled or fermented fruits or vegetables, in 3-7 days. They may ferment faster if it is very warm out, and they may take longer if it is cold. Store in refrigerator.

 A Quart of Pickles, Recipe #2

1 quart of pickling cucumbers
2 stalks of dill [optional]
3 grape leaves [optional]
1 heaping tablespoon of full-array salt
1 teaspoon pickling spices

3 peeled garlic cloves
1 dehydrated chili pepper
cold water


Fold up one stalk of dill and push it into the bottom of a wide-mouthed quart jar
Fill jar with cucumbers, tightly pack as many as will fit up to an inch from the top
Add heaping tablespoon of salt and the teaspoon of spices
Push cloves of garlic into areas around cucumbers
Fold up remaining stalk of dill and push into jar on top of the cucumbers.
Cover with cold water
Put an airlock on top (a piece of plastic secured by a sturdy rubber band.)
Place palm of hand over top of jar and shake well to distribute salt and spice.
Place the jar someplace where it will not matter if if foams over, such as on the sink, in the bathtub, outdoors on in a large plastic bowl.
Shake jars one or more times a day
Wait 1-2 weeks, continuing to shake once a day.
Store in refrigerator.
 1 Quart of Hot, Spiced Dilled Pickles 

   1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 quart of 3" to 5" pickling cucumbers
1 bunch of dill or a tablespoon of dried dill
1 chili pepper, cut lengthwise, with seeds removed
1 1/2 tablespoons full-array salt
3 cups water

Put the pepper, coriander, bay, and garlic into a quart jar. Pack the jar with the cucumbers. Add the dill and chili pepper. Add the salt to the water, and pour the brine over the cucumbers, leaving 1 1/2 inches headspace. Push a quart freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag to keep the pickles below the salt water. Seal or tie the bag. Keep the jar at room temperature, with a dish underneath if the seeping brine might do some damage to the counter, or on the side of the sink.

Within 3 days tiny bubbles should start rising in the jar; indicating that fermentation has begun.

If scum forms on top of the brine, skim it off daily, and rinse off the brine bag. lf so much brine bubbles out that the pickles aren't well covered, add some more brine made in the same proportion of salt to water.

The pickles are ready when they taste sour and the tiny bubbles have stopped rising. Skim off any scum at the top of the jar, cap the jar, and store the pickles in the refrigerator for about 3 days, after which time they should be olive-green throughout. They are best eaten within about 3 weeks.

 Spiced Pickles, variation 

Make pickles as above and add black peppercorns, whole allspice, ginger root, garlic and a cinnamon stick.

 Pickles, variation #2 

Into a 1-quart jar put:

1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon of full array sea salt
1/2 teaspoon each: coriander seed, mustard seed, cumin seed, oregano, dill
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 small dehydrated hot red pepper with seeds removed
1 bay leaf
few strands fresh dill
5 crushed garlic cloves.
1 oak leaf

Let the pickles ferment for 4 days, then refrigerate.

 Whey versus vinegar pickling 

What is the difference between pickling with whey or brine as opposed to pickling with vinegar?

A:  Vinegar kills all bacteria, good or bad. It renders the food preserved but dead. Pickling with whey or brine preserves and creates live beneficial bacteria, also known as "probiotics".

Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods by Nancy Bentley
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. 
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

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