Top 8 allergen free, corn free, gluten free, sugar free, vinegar free
A friend of ours is having a bunker crop of cucumbers this year. So much that he's giving them away to keep them from rotting in his field. Knowing that we could go far with cucumbers, we were more than happy to take some of his hands. Our oldest loves visiting his farm, especially since he's going to be apprenticing with him in the winter in preparation for next year's farmers market.
We've been making pear vinegar, so we thought it'd be really neat to play with flavor profiles. As I tend to have a tendency of not being able to visualize, we brought home way more cucumbers than we had vinegar ready to handle. We quickly dove into researching alternative approaches for pickling and found ourselves entering a brand-new world (to us) - fermentation.
The deeper we get into, the more we want to learn and do! The one benefit that sold me, hands down...
Fermenting produces awesome healing benefits for gut health/digestion, like probiotics. This is like tripping into a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for us. The majority of the kids food challenges present in the gut due to what we speculate is an enzyme deficiency. To learn more about that, google PST enzyme deficiency.
I'd heard a teeny bit about fermenting - knew it existed. But didn't know the first thing about it and steered clear of the unknown. Just seemed like too much energy to learn yet another new thing about food. Had I known how easy it is and the health benefits, I wouldn't have avoided it for so long.
In this instance, my inability to visualize quantity of product and what to do with it worked out in our favor. We got so many cucumbers that we did a 5 gallon batch of these pickles and still had cucumbers left over to share with 2 other families!
4 large cucumbers
1 quart salt water (2 TBS salt per quart water)
4 leaves of: oak, grape, horseradish, black tea or blackberry
1 tsp dried oregano or equivalent of fresh
1 tsp dried mustard, seeds or 1 TBS of mustard microgreens
Add salt to water and mix up until salt is dissolved. Set aside.
Cut up cucumbers. Our cucumbers were large and suited well to doing spears.
Layer spices & 2 leaves in bottom of 1/2 gallon jar.
Stack cucumber spears tightly & vertical. Top with 2 more leaves and fill jar with salt water. Be sure cucumbers are completely submerged. You may have some leftover water. Put weight on top and close jar.
Store jar in cool place. We made due with our counter top.
Burp jar twice a day for 2 days. Let jar rest on counter until achieving desired flavor. At 8 days we moved ours into the fridge. Timing will vary depending on temperature. Hotter speeds up and cooler slows down fermenting process. Part of the fermenting process makes the water fizzy. Fizz is good, means things are doing what they're supposed to.
Letting the kids listen to the fizz is really cool. Watching their faces as they hear it is just priceless (and lends well to spontaneous science lessons). When Lil Miss chows down on them, she says they make her tummy feel good!
Notes: This was our first attempt at salted (fermented) pickles. While we're pleased with how they turned out, next time we'll be trying it in a crock.
Be sure to use sterilized jars. Many recipes recommend doing an ice bath with cucumbers to help maintain crispness of pickles. We skipped this step because we had freshly picked cucumbers, but will also try adding the ice bath on our next batch to see how much difference it might make.