The most successful plants in my garden this summer have been my cucumbers and dill. The universe clearly was hinting that dill pickles were in order. Actually, every summer, I make dill pickles, but I typically make them with store-bought vinegar
I have read quite a bit the past year about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. The process is actually the old-fashioned way of preserving foods. With growing concerns about factory processed food safety, many folks are making their own food from scratch and rediscovering what our previous generations knew.
Growing up on the farm, we always had a big crock of dill pickles in the basement. While times have changed from plunging my hand right into the crock and fishing around for a pickle, I thought it would be fun to resurrect pickles I remember growing up. I had a lot to learn, but you'll see the results are quite amazing.
Some very important things to understand about making pickles this way. You need to use either oak or grape leaves to keep the pickles crisp. I sent my young nephew stomping off through the woods to find the oak leaves for me. My little naturalist didn't return empty handed, although I do apologize to his mom & dad for the poison ivy and thank them for their continued indulgence of borrowing their children for my reviews.
Oak leaves contain tannin and without them in the layered crock, the pickles will not stay crisp. The other key is that the water must not have chlorine, which inhibits the growth of the healthy bacteria. To dechlorinate tap water, just boil and cool it, which will cause the chlorine to evaporate. You also can leave the water sitting out for 24 hours and the chlorine will dissipate.
layers of cucumbers, dill, garlic, oak leaves, and pickling spices
pickling spices include:
mustard seed, peppercorns, red pepper flakes
|The cloudy water of the finished batch|
Yesterday, we happily munched on the lacto-fermented pickles as we enjoyed the last summer barbeque. The crisp dill flavor was well worth the wait. I think I may try to make one more batch before the weather changes.
I based my pickles on a recipe from Cultures for Health. Check it out and enjoy! Happy September!