Fermented pickles are definitely way better 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 fermentation 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 1-2 days 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. It seems that the bumpy, pickling cucumbers definitely stay firmer than other cucumber varieties.
The process is easier than you think.
Rinse the cucumbers
Quarter the cucumbers
Pack the vessel or wide-mouth jars with cucumbers, garlic cloves, and dill (fresh is ideal, but you can use dried)
For every 2 cups of water (spring water is most reliable for ferments), add 2 tablespoons of sea salt
Fill the jars until you can press the cucumbers below the brine
Use a glass or dish with some water for extra weight, to weigh down the cucumbers (they must be below the brine)
Place in a room temp, shaded area and cover with a cloth napkin
Wait 3-5 days and check pickles for sourness
When you have arrived at desired sourness, remove the weight…cap and transfer to fridge.
Should last for 3-6 months in the fridge…but I never really get to find that out because we eat them so quickly!