With summer arriving in full heat, so do the cucumbers. Who doesn’t love a crisp dill pickle? Not to many people make brine or “crock” pickles anymore because they not only take several weeks to make, but many people today do not understand that the “stuff” that comes to the top, is good bacteria and is needed for the fermentation process of the pickle. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria, the good is what is needed and creates a film to help ferment your pickles to perfection. Fermentation also has a “smell” to it. Not a rotten smell, but just an odor. Old fashioned crock pickles are cured by fermentation and the scum and the odor is the fermentation agent. It takes 3 weeks (or longer, I prefer about 6 weeks) in cooler temperatures to complete the process of fermentation. During that process your pickles will go from a bright green to an olive or yellow green color. Do NOT have your crock or fermentation “jar” in a warm area, it should be below 75 degrees F. We utilize our pantry which is in our basement for all fermentation’s as well as our canned and dry goods.
You can keep them in the crock with the salt brine all winter or you can preserve them by canning them. I prefer to can mine. I water bath my pickles, well if they last that long anyway.
For my pickles, I use a 1 gallon fermentation “jar” with weights. The lid has a hole in it (my husband did this in the correct sized “lid” in which the fermentation “vent” sits nicely into. You can also use an old fashioned crock with weights and a cover.
You can not make crock pickles from store bought cucumbers!!! Please read that out loud. YOU CAN NOT MAKE CROCK PICKLES FROM STORE BOUGHT CUCUMBERS!!! Why? Because store bought is coated with a wax film to keep them looking pretty longer. You must use strait from the garden fresh cucumbers. No bigger than 4 inches long and make sure they are “skinny”. Not too fat so the texture is good, you want young, bright smaller cucumbers.
You will need 5 lbs of cucumbers that have been washed and have any dirt and blossom and stems removed. Do not peel or slice.
Since I have 1 gallon fermentation jars, I make 5 lbs at a time of crock pickles. So this is the recipe for 1 gallon of fermentation dill pickles.
- 5 lbs of small cucumbers, washed
- 8 cups of water
- 5 fresh heads of dill (flower)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
- 2 dried bird chilies (this is optional)
- 1 tablespoon of mustard seed
- 1 tsp of peppercorns (optional)
- 1/2 cup of PICKLING salt (DO NOT USE SEA SALT, TABLE SALT OR IODIZED SALT!)
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
- In your crock or jar (make sure it is clean). Add a layer of 2 dill flowers, 1 chili, garlic, mustard seed, peppercorns.
- Add in your cucumbers layering them as tightly as possible.
- Add in your remaining dill “flowers” then a couple cucumbers to hold them down.
- Heat your water, vinegar and salt until it is hot, just under a boil and the salt is dissolved.
- Pour your mixture over your cucumbers and spices. There should be enough to cover your cucumbers but not completely fill your crock or jar.
- Add a plate or fermentation “topping” over your pickles, then the weights on top of the covering to hold everything down well below the top of the brine.
- Your cucumbers must always be below your brine, safely submerged at least 2 inches below the brine. You may have to add salt, vinegar water to your brine if evaporation happens during your process.
- I add a fermentation lid and vent to mine, to cut down on the evaporation. You can also use a cloth over the top.
Now we move our crock to a cool place, I use my pantry and wait. I check on my crock about once every 3 days to make sure the brine level is up and there is nothing “funky” happening. Your pickles are ready in 3 weeks, I like to wait a little longer. You can transport them in half gallon jars with the dill brine and keep in the refrigerator or you can preserve them in pints/quarts using the water bath method for pickles.
Until next time,
Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice