Friday, September 18, 2009

Fermented Pickles

Well pickles are a bit off topic on a beer blog, but I love a good fermented pickle. And if you are anything like me, you really like doing things for yourself and enjoying quality food. It can really be amazing to see how high a quality a product you can make yourself compared to whats out there.

Its funny actually, when I was making my pickles it actually made me start thinking about Gose. Think about it, fermenting vegetables in brine was used for centuries to preserve food. What is gose other than a very dilute brine with a bit of alcohol? I wonder if the first Gosebiers were an accident involving a mixup of a pickling barrel and a beer barrel? I know that when I make a new batch of pickles I use a bit of the active culture from a previous batch, a pickle krausening if you will, to speed things along. What if one time some of the brine in the bottom of a pickle barrel was accidentally added to a fermenting wheat beer, or better yet on purpose? Pickle brine is usually a 5-10% salt solution so it wouldn't take much to get a nice bit of salt into a beer, and the lactic cultures would probably acidify things pretty well. I think I might actually give this a try in a one gal batch soon. Who knows it might turn out something pretty good.

Anyway lets get back to the subject at hand...Pickles. If you've ever had the pleasure of eating a really good fermented pickle you know how delicious they are. Most pickles available now are unfortunately made with vinegar. Going this route is very fast and cheap, something food producers love but it doesn't turn out the best product. Now I have had some pretty good vinegar pickles but they really aren't even the same thing as a fermented pickle, its like comparing a "balsamic" vinegar at a local grocery to a true traditional 3 or 4 leaf balsamic. I have been lucky enough to come across Bubbies pickles in the last year or so, and they are really delicious but 8$ a jar gets pretty pricey for pickles. I'm hoping I can make something that resembles bubbies but at a fraction of the cost (gonna use cucumbers I'm growing).
Fermented Pickles
  1. To start this process I first made a 5% brine solution. This ends up being about 100grams of non-iodized salt in 2L of water.

  2. Boil this up and allow to cool completely

  3. Cut the ends off of the pickling cucumbers and soak in cold water (the blossom end contains enzymes that will soften the pickle)

  4. Fill jars with spices of your choice (I used 5-6 Peppercorns, 2 cloves of garlic, 1tsp dill seed, 1/2 tsp dill weed, 4-5 coriander seeds, 1 dried pepper and 1 bay leaf per 32 oz jar)

  5. Stuff cucumbers in jars and pack tight, you don't want the cucumbers poking above the brine

  6. Pour cooled brine over the cucumbers, I left a bit of space because I used some of the bubbies brine to jump start things, after you develop a culture this is the preferred way to start a new batch. It will really speed things along and provide consistent results.

  7. Cover with cheesecloth and put in a cool corner of you house for a couple weeks, checking every so often after the first week or so. You should see a pronounced color change in the pickles.

  8. Taste after 1-2wks, refrigerate when they have become softer, a darker green and the flavor throughout the pickle is to your liking

Remember just about anything can be pickled. In fact my girlfriend really loves pickled green beans and carrots so making up a batch of those as well.


Russ said...

I highly recommend pickled Brussels sprouts and pickled garlic cloves. We vacation up in Wisconsin a lot, which is home to picked everything, and those are two of the best. Pickled okra would be a close third.

Ryan said...

I love pickled garlic, but from what Ive read it takes forever, must be related to garlics antimicrobial properties

I might have to give brussel sprouts a try, are they still bitter after pickling?

I was somewhere on the East coast last year and there was an entire store dedicated to pickled garlic it was awesome!

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