Real Pickles

I always look forward to August.   The tomatoes and melons and cucumbers are finally coming into season here when most of the country has been enjoying these summer foods for at least a month.   Beyond the serpentine Armenian cucumbers and the cute lemon cucumbers, I love the pickling cucumbers most and they are hard to find at the market and impossible to grow at this altitude without a greenhouse.

There is nothing quite like a good pickle.   Traditionally foods were pickled without vinegar and were pickled with brine instead.   The brine kept pathogens at bay while allowing good, beneficial bacteria to proliferate creating lactic acid that would preserve the food.   These cultured foods are treasures of bacteria that is beneficial to human health and the lack of good bacteria in our guts has been linked to obesity and other disease.   So it’s critical to eat foods rich in pro- and pre-biotics to keep ourselves healthy.

Yogurt and cultured milk products are a great source of these bacteria, but many people overlook the benefits and delicious flavor of cultured vegetables: real sauerkraut, sauerruben and real pickles.

For these pickles, like the pickles I made last August, I peeled plenty of garlic, washed plenty of pickling cucumbers and put them in 1/2-gallon ball mason jars to ferment along with a handful of horseradish leaves to keep them crisp and plenty of fresh, flowering dill.   I topped it all with brine and let it ferment on the counter until they were done.

And my little dude, he begs for them for breakfast.