Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preserving Dills


I've decided to preserve some dill pickles and to try different methods. The first is the classic method of brining them in water, vinegar, sea salt, dill and spices for four weeks. I will then can them for longer term storage. The other method is naturally fermented pickles, using no vinegar to allow lactic acid fermentation and the development of beneficial bacteria. These are not canned, which keeps the vitamins and the lactic-acid-producing bacteria in the pickles, aiding digestion. Natural fermentation sounds like the best way to go health-wise, but a lot of planning and careful work must go into it. Storage is also a difficult, with many households not having root cellars.

This is my first foray into brining and fermenting. I don't have any ceramic crocks, so I found a 2 gallon glass jug at a chain store for $10. That works. But, I still have my eye on a set up from Leman's. I'd love a 3 gallon crock, lid, wooden board for pushing the food down and that great stomper. It seems like a good thing to buy a new crock knowing that it is lead-free. Oh, but that adds up, I might have to stick with the glass jug. Anyhow, here are the two methods that I'll be trying out over the next month. Stay tuned for the results!


Classic Dill Pickles
  • Sterilize a 2 or 3 gallon jar.
  • Clean cucumbers and soak in cold water if they are not freshly picked.
  • Layer as follows: fresh dill, 1/2 inch deep cucumbers, pickling spices (I used about a gallon of pickles and 5 tablespoons spices).
  • Make a brine: 3/4 cup sea salt, 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon filtered water. Pour over layers. 
  • Weigh down the cucumbers so that only the liquid is at the surface. A plate, jar or plastic bag with brine in it works well.
  • Cover with towel and place in the dark at 70 degrees.
  • Check in 3-4 days for scum on surface. Remove and continue to check daily for scum.
  • Ferment for 3-4 weeks.
  • Process as follows: 1) strain brine out and bring to boil 2) rinse pickles in cold water 3) pack pickles into sterilized jars 4) pour hot brine into jars 5) process 15 minutes
I found this method in Creative Pickling by Barbara Cilitti. The Herbal Pantry also has some great pickling recipes.

Fermented Dill Pickles
  • Sterilize a 2 or 3 gallon jar.
  • Clean cucumbers and soak in cold water if they are not freshly picked.
  • Layer the following: fresh dill, cucumbers (1 gallon), pickling spices (5 tablespoons) and garlic (2 bulbs)
  • Make a brine: 6 tablespoons sea salt, 2 quarts filtered water and 1/2-1 cup of whey. Stir until dissolved. Pour over layers.
  • Weigh down the cucumbers so that only the liquid is at the surface. A plate, jar or plastic bag with brine in it works well.
  • Cover with towel and place in the dark at 70 degrees.
  • Ferment from 5 to 10 days. Taste as it goes to see if they are done and then store in the refrigerator.
 Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Nourished Kitchen are two good sources for this method.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm.... If I didn't work 50 hours a week, have 4 kids and a small scale farm to manage I'd love to do it this way... I bet they taste awesome!! The pictures sure look cool. Keep me posted on your progress. Dan T

    ReplyDelete

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