Lacto fermentation might sound complicated or strange, but it's quite likely you are already familiar with it and you may have eaten some lacto fermented foods recently. Sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough bread and yogurt are all made by lacto fermentation; they all harness bacteria that eat various sugars and turn them into lactic acid and help to produce a variety of tasty, tangy, healthful foods. Lacto fermented pickles are a little sour; the flavour is distinct from vinegar pickled things.
They are also another way to incorporate more possibly beneficial bacteria into my diet. I like this because I have made an effort to try to consume the food versions of certain supplements I used to take. Instead of taking probiotics; I am trying to eat more kimchi, kefir and pickles.
It's easy for me to eat more pickles for their bacterial benefits because l absolutely love pickles. When I was little I liked salty foods even more than sweets-I used to sneak pickles out of the fridge like other children dipped secretly into the cookie jar. I loved olives and crackers and cheese and especially pickles. Not that I didn't eat cookies and sweets, but I loved salty snacks more.
For these pickles I used some lovely pale yellow cucumbers from my CSA box and some regular green pickling cucumbers, but any firm vegetables work well, I like to use carrots, green beans and cauliflower too. It's important to use non-idodized salt for this recipe to allow the bacteria to thrive.
lacto fermented dill pickles:
adapted from The Urban Homestead
- a quantity of vegetables to pickle, cleaned and cut down into the shapes of your choosing
- non-iodized salt
- lots of dill, a big handful per jar
- one clove of garlic per jar
- mustard seeds, whole chilies, or chili flakes, whole black peppercorns, celery seed or whatever other spices you like
Place the prepared vegetables into clean jars and pack with your chosen spices. Fill the jars with water, making sure to measure the water you pour into each jar. Add salt to each jar in a measure of 0.75 parts salt to 10 parts water; so that one cup of water needs 2.4 tbs salt, for example.
Make sure that brine is covering all the vegetables; using a smaller jar or drinking glass to push everything under the surface works well. Anything poking through the brine is likely to mould. If mould does form, just skim it off the surface, or chop off the mouldy end of the vegetable. Everything under the brine should be ok.
Leave the jars out at room temperature, covered by cheesecloth to keep insects out, for at least three days. The length of time varies; quicker in hot weather, slower when it's cool. The pickles are ready for refrigeration when they slightly sour, the brine may be almost fizzy, when they are clearly transformed. Then they can be refrigerated with lids on. This will enormously slow fermentation. but it still carries on in the fridge somewhat so they will continue to change as they sit.
Photo credits: Tyrel Hiebert