Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cucumber Over-abundance and Refrigerator Pickles

When the garden (or farmers' market) is overflowing with fresh seasonal cucumbers, consider this easy and tasty recipe to enjoy the bounty - refrigerator pickles. These are not canned, they are fermented to give them their lovely flavor and to increase their palatability and nutrient content. Summertime fermentation goes so fast, that these pickles can be done as fast as in two days! 

 Wash and slice large cucumbers, and trim their blossom end - it is said to contain some ingredient that makes for less crunchy pickles. Add to taste crushed garlic, leaves of currant or oak (for crispness), large handfull of dill weed with stems, and dill seed - either loose or on the seed head. Add non-chlorinated water, and non-iodized salt - about 1 Table spoon per quart. Mustard seed and peppercorns add to the flavor too.  Place cucumber rounds in the well mixed brine, make sure they are all covered with brine. You can place a small plate over them to keep them submerged.

 Use glass or porcelain container, like a large jar or crock pot, or even a glass bowl with a plate cover will work just fine. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 days on the kitchen counter, at room temperature, and then start tasting the cucumbers. While it might take 5-7 days in cooler climates to complete fermentation process, in the Southwest things go much faster and 2-3 days is usually all what it takes to produce delicious fermented pickles. One you are satisfied with their taste, move them in the refrigerator. Some foam and white coat on your cucumbers or brine is normal, but if the mix does not smell wholesome and delicious, discard it when in doubt.

Storage life is unknown for this product, probably many months. The brine can be used in cooking or for drinking, or even for new cucumbers - just top it with water and add salt. The beneficial lacto-bacteria which comes from the air will continue working on the new batch of cucumbers.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

this is excellent. i just got a ridiculous number of white cucumbers in my csa - may have to use this. haha.

p.s. i'm cohosting the wednesday fresh foods blog hop @ gastronomical sovereignty if you want to stop by - this post is right up our ally. :) xo!