Fermented Refrigerator Pickles

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Do you love pickles? Are you on the fence about pickles? I always liked pickles, but wouldn’t necessarily choose to snack on them. Ever since I first made these perfect peck of pickled cucumbers, I look forward to having them again every year. Perhaps the “fermented” part of the title drew you here. These are left on the counter for a couple days to sour, and then need to be kept in the refrigerator. The water-bath canning method would kill off any bacteria, so those cannot really be fermented.

I think if you are hesitant to make your own pickles, you should start with these. They are incredibly delicious. I love them, and I end up even fishing out the garlic pieces to munch on those when the cucumbers are all gone.

Let’s talk about what you’ll more or less need to make this delicious fermented food.

You’ll want some dill. Fresh seems to be quite easy to find for me this time of year at every grocery store I’ve been to, so I have that, but if you only can find dried dill weed and dill seed, use those. It’ll be amazing.

Oh, and those are grape leaves pictured above. I came across a little city-owned garden with grapes because I live in Idaho’s wine country now and I “borrowed” some leaves for my pickling project. I’ve never used grape leaves before, but I have read multiple times that it can help with texture due to the tannins.

Also, I am using pickling cucumbers here, but honestly regular cucumbers would work fine and I’ve done that in the past. You could slice them up, or just pack in maybe 4 or 5 into a large jar.

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Pickling spice is super easy to toss together yourself if you keep pungent seeds on hand.

This is 1 tablespoon each of mustard seed, peppercorns, coriander, dill seeds and then about 4 crushed up bay leaves because that is all I had left. I didn’t have any allspice berries, but I had a really old bag of allspice and I just tossed about 1/2 tablespoon in there. I like spice, so I also added in 1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

You will most definitely want garlic. Even if you think you don’t like garlic, it’s what gives these pickles that special flavor edge that store bought can never quite attain. You’ll want at least 2 heads of garlic.

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Water, vinegar, and salt are the other ingredients (besides cucumbers!) you’ll want to have on hand.

Boil approximately a quart of water, then let that cool all the way down to room temperature, then add in 4 giant tablespoons of salt and 3/4 cup of white distilled vinegar.

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Ready? Let’s get started.

I just read that it’s possible to get soggy, mushy cucumbers from some enzyme left from the blossom end of the cucumber. So I chopped off that end. Usually I would just leave them whole, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

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Into a very clean jar place a lot of dill into the bottom. I use a combination of the leaves and the heads with seeds on them.

Then pack in the cucumbers. It actually does help to stack them nicely. I lay the jar on its side and place them in. I had a few extra so I decided to make an extra small jar.

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Now it’s time for the spices! The allspice powder is not so appealing, but I love seeing all the seeds floating once I add the brine. Add in a bunch of garlic cloves. Yum! I took this opportunity to use any of the garlic cloves that looked like they might not make it through the winter due to damage from being dug up violently… Not by me.

To the half gallon jar I added 1 heaping tablespoon of the pickling spice, and the pint jar I added 1/2 tablespoon. I know that math doesn’t equate, but it’s what I did. There is probably a good 1 1/2 heads of garlic in the half gallon jar and about 1/2 head in the pint jar.

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If you have any access to grape leaves, add one or two of those in now.

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Perhaps you have a spicy pepper lying around waiting to be used? Yeah, slice that and throw it in, too.

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Now top this lovely concoction off with MORE DILL! Again, heads as well as leaves work well. My dill was not so fresh, but it still smelled divine and will do the trick.

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Now pour your prepared brine into the jars. Mine happened to be the perfect amount (must be my lucky day!) but if you need to make more brine, just do it and be patient.

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I’m going to place linen on the tops of these and let them sit on the counter for three days, and then taste them by slicing off a chunk. Once they are super tasty, place normal lids on them, and keep in the refrigerator.

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I may have also “borrowed” a few roses as well as some grapes.

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I couldn’t resist this bi-colored rose!

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Wine grapes are actually not very nice to eat as they are like 50% seeds inside.

Peace and love,

Kristan

 

Fermented Cranberries

Another fermentation “recipe”? Why, yes indeed. The passive food treatment makes me giddy with excitement and anticipation. There is no other choice but to have patience and hope the creation has turned out to one’s expectations.

It pleases me to report this one has exceeded my hopes.

Bulk cranberries were calling to me with their vibrant color and bouncy texture. I didn’t want more baked goods at the time, and I figured some sort of fermentation or chutney would be nice with fresh cranberries.

So I did some research and read up on cranberries in The Art of Fermentation.

The cranberries were washed, then placed into a quart size mason jar.

My plan was to use my ginger bug as a starter to kick off the fermentation process. It doesn’t hurt that ginger and cranberries marry so well.

So I shook up my loyal ginger bug and poured about 1/4 cup into the mason jar with the cranberries.

Next, I poured in honey to cover the cranberries. Boy, oh boy, do those delicious berries float! I wrestled every day with them, trying to figure out how to get them to stay submerged and wished I had a clay fermentation ring to keep them under the honey. Hmm, I think I’ve figured out my next pottery endeavor.

They sat on my kitchen counter, buoyant and bright, for a few weeks. Whenever I thought about it, I’d turn the jar, like a sand timer, hoping the cranberries were becoming fermented goodies.

I finally opened the lid to taste them, and they were sweet and delicious; a vast change from their natural state of tart and dry.

My next best idea was to then process them quickly in my Ninja chopper, and I’m happy I did. I enjoyed these on my sourdough crackers, and was totally enamored.

Seriously, so in love with this super simple recipe. I think you should give it a try if you enjoy the taste of honey and are also into cranberry.

Peace and love,

Kristan

October Books


I’m quite embarrassed to say I hadn’t visited my library in a long, long time. I grew up checking out massive stacks of books from the library with my mom and three sisters. We barely ever paid late fees. My parents were responsible and didn’t pay unnecessary fees. I believe I’ve accrued a few library fees, and one was when I stupidly allowed a friend to check out a book on my account. There is a reason that is not allowed.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I first read his Sandman graphic novels which had a significant impact on my view of the genre and on storytelling in general. The only fiction book is from him, titled Norse Mythology. 

I’ve gifted a copy of Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin. I enjoy his blog quite a bit and leafed through the copy before I gave it, and thought I’d check it out for a bit.

My desire is to learn about the gifts that nature surrounds us with locally. I have hunted for morels, but never anything else. I know chanterelles are supposed to be developing in the fall, so I got some local fungi books.


Yes, I live in Idaho.

The fermentation book is not exactly what I wanted, but the immediate selection at the library was slim. Many books are on hold, though and I’m so excited!

Peace and love,

Kristan