Want to liven up your summer table? Look no further than sour pickles. Naturally fermented, sour pickles are rich in beneficial bacteria and food enzymes, offering a dairy-free source of probiotics .
Vinegar pickles lack the beneficial bacteria found in traditional, sour pickles. To ferment real pickles they must go through lactic acid fermentation – a process that encourages the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
Why We Don’t Use Vinegar (and why that’s good!)
Just as salt is used to prepare a traditional sauerkraut, unrefined sea salt is likewise used to prepare traditional sour pickles. While many traditionally fermented vegetables require pounding vegetables long enough for them to release their juices which then combine with salt to create a brine, in preparing sour pickles, you prepare the brine separately and pour it over cucumbers and seasonings.
This brine helps to keep pathogenic bacteria and stray mold spores at bay while encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria which metabolize the vegetable’s natural sugars and produce lactic acid as a byproduct. This is why sour pickles, traditionally prepared, are sour without the addition of vinegar. The lactic acid fermentation is also good for our bodies. Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid.
|Sour Pickles|| |
- 1 gallon unwaxed pickling cucumbers, approximately 8 pounds
- 2 heads flowering dill
- 2 large bulbs garlic
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice
- 1 horseradish leaf
- 6 tablespoons finely ground sea salt
- 3 quarts filtered water
- Rinse the cucumbers well to remove any dirt or debris, and then trim away any small stems of vine or flowers that might still adhere to them.
- Dump the cucumbers into the basin of your sink, and fill the sink with cold water. Allow the cucumbers to soak in the cold water for 20 minutes, long enough to perk them up a bit before they ferment
- Peel the garlic, and drop it into your fermentation crock. Then, add the pickling cucumbers, dill, horseradish leaf and pickling spice.
- Create a brine by spooning the salt into the water, and whisking them together until the salt dissolves completely. Pour the brine into the crock, weighing the cucumbers down, and completely submerging all the ingredients. Make sure your crock is completely full of brine, adding more as necessary. If using a traditional crock (like this one), place the lid on the jar and fill the crock's well with water, checking every few days to make sure the water hasn't evaporated and the seal remains intact.
- Allow the cucumbers to ferment for at least 1 week and up to 1 month at room temperature. Taste them every few days, and when they achieve the flavor and sourness you like, transfer the pickles and brine to mason jars, storing them in the fridge up to 6 months.
Pro Tip: Use the Right Equipment
Using the right equipment to make sour pickles will help you to avoid accidentally contaminating your pickles with the stray yeasts and molds that could ruin your batch. A traditional fermentation crock will allow your cucumbers to ferment under the best conditions, without the free flow of air. You can find them online here.
Other Fermented Vegetables You’ll Love
Fermented vegetables are beautifully complex in flavor, but refreshingly easy to make as long as you have the right equipment and a little time. Like yogurt, fermented vegetables are rich in beneficial bacteria that helps to support gut health and immune system function. You can find all of our fermented vegetable recipes here , but below you’ll find a few of our favorites.
Homemade Sauerkraut requires nothing more than salt, cabbage and a little time.
Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut is a great riff on traditional sauerkraut, and spiked with plenty of garlic and a touch of jalapeno.
Fermented Green Tomatoes and Hot Peppers is another really simple, flavor-forward traditional pickle.