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
My journey into making Kombucha (a fermented tea drink which is healthy for the gut) began several months ago, a very good friend gave me the instructions and my first SCOBY which you need to make this wonderful drink. The SCOBY is living ‘healthy’ bacteria that resembles a flat jelly fish, or the weird creatures from one of the original Star Trek series…. You know the one, admit it. Anyway, SCOBY is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is what does the job in making your Kombucha. Ginger and Turmeric are wonderful natural roots that are great for the stomach and inflammation plus they taste YUMMY!
You will need several items just to get started:
- Two 1 gallon Glass jars, you can get them at glass jars at amazon
- A minimum of 6 swing top bottles, again at Amazon here swing top bottles
- Your SCOBY, if you don’t have a friend who has a live one living in her SCOBY hotel, guess what, you can get that from Amazon Too. SCOBY
- 2 cups of sugar
- 3 tea bags of green or black tea.
- 1 gallon of FILTERED PURE WATER. Do not, I repeat, to not use tap water, the chlorine and fluoride will kill you SCOBY.
- Starter and again if you don’t have a friend who is already brewing, yup, you guessed it go to Amazon. Kombucha Starter
- Brew your sweet tea (sugar, water and tea) and let cool until it is room temperature. This is important, room temperature.
- Once the tea cools (NOT COLD), pour into the large glass jar
- Wash your hands with vinegar, yes, you read that correctly this helps you not infect your SCOBY with your germs.
- Float the SCOBY on the surface. It may sink but that is okay.
- Gently add in 1-2 cups of the unflavored starter that is at room temperature.
- Cover with a breathable cloth but something fruit flies can not get through. I use a micro mesh cheese cloth and double it.
- Tighten with a rubber band.
- Sit in a quiet place away from sunlight and cold as cold will slow the growth of the bacteria. War is okay but not too warm.
- Let ferment for 7-10 days (14 has been perfect for us). This step is very flexible. The shorter the first ferment the sweeter the brew, the longer the ferment the more sour as the yeast feeds off the sugar from the sweet tea.
- Once Ready, wash your hands with vinegar and remove your SCOBY and put in the second jar with some of the tea from the first jar (I put a cup in the first time, now more because if have a bunch in my hotel).
- You may need to separate your SCOBYs because they will meld together as you continue to use them. Each new batch will grow a baby SCOBY to the Mother SCOBY.
- Fill your flip top bottles to the bottom of the neck, NOT to the top of the bottle.
- For the Ginger Turmeric, I add one teaspoon of diced fresh Ginger and 1 teaspoon of diced fresh turmeric root (both peeled).
- Save 2 cups of this batch of the fermented tea (starter) for use for your next batch. Keep it going by starting at the first step all over again.
- I also date these and have now started a rotation of 2 batches soon to be 3 rotation so we have kombucha ready when desired.
- Cap each bottle with a breathable top. And store in a cool dark place. for about 5-7 days. YOU MUST BURP YOUR BOTTLES IF THE TOP IS SOLID! IF YOU DONT THEY WILL EXPLODE!!!!
- Once you are ready to enjoy your brew, CAREFULLY open the bottle.
- This is why you only fill to the base of the neck, it will FIZZ, alot. I have found its best to open slowly in a high top bowl. The sweeter the tea and the higher the sugar content (ginger has a lot) the more it will fizz as a result of the second brew (flavor brew).
- Keep in the refrigerator once opened and enjoy!
My husband and I love the Ginger Turmeric and really have no want at this time to change it up. Plus, these roots are great for the gut and inflammation. However, you can play with flavors, some I’ve seen are Orange Ginger; Strawberry Lemon; Blueberry Lemon; Raspberry; Elderberry. mulberry, cherry and so many others. Just remember, the more the sugar, the more active the Fizz.
Now, about your SCOBY Hotel:
I keep my old SCOBYs in a ‘SCOBY Hotel’ which is basically a glass jar with stacks of SCOBYs. Treat these like the fermenting kombucha by covering them with a breathable cloth and add sweet tea once in a while for food. They love their sweet teas! Feed them about once a month or so. You will also see growth spurts in your SCOBYs at that time. I rotate them between batches. There are all kinds of uses for SCOBYs if you get too many teach a friend how to make Kombucha and donate a SCOBY. They are great to add to a compost bin because of the healthy bacteria. Mother Earth News just had a recipe in making SCOBY treats (think healthy gummies).
Enjoy your brewing.
Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice