Sour pickles

These sour pickles are not the same as the ones you find in the store. Commercial pickles are usually preserved in vinegar (and sugar), a acetic acid (azijnzuur). The sour pickles I like to make are preserved in a lactic acid (melkzuur), which is a probiotic and healty for the guts. Their taste is soft, sour and salty. They don’t stay good for a very long time and you will have to keep an eye on them. If you want to preserve pickles for a long ocean passage the vinegar ones are probably more interesting for you, but at least give this ones a try one day…

It is easy . The lactic acid bacteria is already present in the vegetable and will do all the work. All you need to do is wait for the vegetable to ferment. This takes some attention, because the you have to check every day if the pickles aren’t getting to mushy!

What you need:

  • 500 gram small pickling cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups of water
  • dill
  • 1-2 heads garlic
  • a jar or plastic container

Steps to do:

  • Rinse the pickling cucumbers. Cut them into slices, or leave them in one piece.
  • Make the brine: dissolve the salt in 2 cups of water.
  • Clean a bowl and fill it. First the dill and the garlic, then the cucumbers.
  • Fill the jar with the brine. The cucumber will start floating, but try to keep them under the water by using a bigger piece of cucumber or a little weight on top. If you need to add more brine, try to respect the salt/water ratio. It is important that the cucumbers stay under water, because everything that touches air will become moldy. The fermenting process will produce some gas, so loosely cover the jar with the lit.
  • Ferment. Leave the pickles untill the colour becomes a more duller olive green. Then taste every day. Sourness will develop over time. It will go faster in a warmer climate. Skim of the white scum if it appears, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. You will probably not die from it. The cucumber will eventually become soft and mushy (in a warm climate this happens within a week), so watch it. The original recepy adds fresh grape leaves because they help to keep the cucumbers more crunchy, but I have not tried that yet. If you are happy with the taste of your pickles and you don’t want them to become softer and more sour, move them to the fridge to slow down the fermentation process, or eat them. Generally they are ready from 4 days untill 2 weeks, depending on the climate.

This is a recipe from the book “Wild fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. I can very much recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about fermentation. This book is a joy to read. It has plenty of easy recipes and gives you all the information and insights you need to start fermenting.