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Deli Pickles While You Wait! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Cris   
Sunday, 19 February 2006

 When I made my Grandma's homemade pickles last weekend I had some extra cucumbers that would not fit in my jars, so I decided to try a salt-brined "fermented" pickle method.

I have made this type of pickles in the past, but normally the recipe calls for an about 2.5% salt solution to ferment the cucumbers in. This time I wanted to see if I could use the approximately 5.5% brine that tastes so good from my grandmother's recipe.

The benefit to the brine fermentation is that they do not take nearly as long to pickle, and the lactic acid created in the fermentation process makes the pickles taste more like deli pickles.

Read on for the step by step instructions...


First the ingredients:

cucumbers                                                 garlic

black pepper                                      dill seed

black mustard seeds                yellow mustard seeds                white vinegar

dill weed and red jalapenos- for this batch, I am using last year's pickled peppers from my garden

a big jar and salt.  I am using kosher salt for this recipe as I am not concerned with any cloudyness that it might cause in the brine.

prepare the brine

mix up the brine in a ratio of 5 quarts water to 1 quart vinegar to 11oz salt.
(I decided to halve the recipe since I am only using a 1 gallon jar
10 cups water :2 cups vinegar: 5.5oz salt)

prepare the ingredients

1 tsp black pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tsp dill seed, 1 tsp black mustard seed, 1 tsp yellow mustard seed, 1 red jalapeno and 2 sprigs of dill per each quart jar. (for this jar I multiplied everything times 3)

wash and sterilize the jar (I use 1 Tbls bleach per 1 gallon of water to kill all unwanted bacteria)
and clean the cucumbers.  Make sure to scrape the blossom end clean to prevent unwanted enzymes from affecting the fermentation.  You don't want any flowers, or brown blossom scabs on this end.  The other end may have a stem, but that's OK if you like to leave it on.

pack the spices and cucumbers in the jar

and add the brine.  (do NOT heat the brine for this method)

as you can see, the cucumbers float.

they MUST remain submerged to prevent spoilage, so I use a small bowl inside the rim and invert the jar lid to make sure the bowl keeps the cucumbers held down.

Now we wait.  In a day or two there should be bubbles starting to form around the pickles.  IF any scum forms on the surface of the liquid I will skim that off, but I never really ever get any scum...

I'll check back in a few days to see how the pickles are going, and also to see when it is time to stop the fermentation and put them in the refrigerator.

After a few days...

 On day 4 of the fermentation process, everything appears to be going a little slower than I remember, but I am using a much saltier brine than in past attempts.

The liquid has slightly changed in color, and small bubbles are starting to appear and float to the surface.  There is no odor other than the vinegar smell and no "scum" on the surface of the brine.


After a few more days


well, it is a week later

and I can't tell if anything is changing in the jar, so I decided to give one a taste:

Firstly, you can see that some of the smaller ones have shrivelled a little, but the larger ones did not.

Also, they have changed in color quite noticably:

                          before                                        after                               shrivelled

and the insides are no longer pure white

They are nicely sour but do not taste overwhelmingly of garlic, nor are they hot and spicy.  They taste pretty much like your classic deli pickle, and the good part is that it really only took about a week to ferment. (It has been in the 70's to 80s here this week which may have also helped)  At this point I am placing the entire jar in the refigerator to stop the rapid fermentation process so that I can enjoy them at my leisure. 

I am actually quite happy with the way these turned out.   dancing 

Note: if you like your pickles more on the sour side, you can let them ferment a little longer until they reach the sourness level that you prefer, or you can start with a brine ratio of 8 cups water : 2 cups vinegar : 5.5oz salt.  The batch I did with this brine turned out quite sour, yet still very tasty.

I also did a batch with a habanero in place of the jalepenos.  It did make the pickles a tiny bit more spicy, but not a lot more.  I have a feeling that the longer they soak with that pepper, the hotter they will be!

-cris  {moscomment}

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 March 2006 )
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