Lacto-fermented Pickles

LF pickles 4

Lacto-fermented pickles jarred and ready to store in the fridge

Fermented pickles are definitely superior in taste and health benefit than vinegar-brined cucumbers.  Basically, you get a probiotic pickle.

In the past, I’ve always made lacto-fermented pickles using whey (the liquid that separates from curds in milk). Whey inoculates the brine with lactobacilii and makes the ferment go faster. It was always a reliable method for me and pickles were always ready in about 3 days (in the summer months).

Since my little one had a dairy protein sensitivity at birth, I’ve been exploring all the ferments I used to do with whey…with just salt. One down-side is that the fermentation process takes longer for the lactobacilii cultures to build up.

However, the up-sides are many. Using just salt, more of a diverse culture of beneficial bacteria emerge in your ferment (at least, that is the word on the street). As well, I think the taste is better…a cleaner taste, if you will. And, finally…you don’t have to hunt down a pastured dairy farmer and purchase milk…separate the whey and curds…and all that jazz. You just need salt.

Cold, lacto-fermented pickles are a great teething medium for little ones.  So, I really wanted to have some on hand for her to chew on.

So, here is my attempt at my usual lacto-fermented pickles, only using a salt brine (I added live oak leaves for their tannins and helping the pickles stay crisp). They turned out quite good… But, the live oak leaves were a bit too strong in tannins. I used bay leaves in the second batch and that was perfect.  Great flavor.  Crisp pickles.  I used grape leaves in my third batch (for added tannins) but the pickles became mushy.  So, I’ll go back to using bay leaves.

Check out the recipe through this blog. I loosely followed it.  I only used garlic, dried dill (fresh is better), juniper berries, and some peppercorns for seasoning.

Also, another thing not mentioned in the link I shared above, is the use of brine from previous ferments to kick-off your new ferment.  I put about 1/8-1/4 cup of saurkraut juice in the pickle brine to get things started!

LF pickles in brine

After preparing the cucumber wedges and the brine, I submerged the cucumber wedges in this ceramic pitcher.  I then weighted down the cucumbers with a ramekin that I had on hand to make sure they stayed submerged.

LF pickles 1

After about 5-6 days, the pickles were ready.  Depending on ambient temperature, your pickles could take a longer or a shorter amount of time.

LF pickles 3

Then, the pickles were ready to be jarred and placed in the fridge.

LF pickles 2

I actually took the oak leaves out of the batch because, as I mentioned above…they were too strong (flavor-wise).  There were plenty of tannins in the brine at this point (to keep the pickles crisp), so they weren’t needed any longer.

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