Monday, May 1, 2017

Pickles (Jewish American Heritage Month)

photo courtesy of Betty Greenwald of "Love Brines"

This month is Jewish American Heritage Month.

The cucumber pickle, while not unique to Jewish American heritage, is somewhat iconic.

In honor of that, here is my recipe for fermented cucumber pickles. And when I say "my recipe", I realize that there are many recipes like it, but this one is mine. And I mean "mine" not in the possessive sense, like a 3-year-old who won't share their toys, nor in the creative sense, since I make no claims about its originality, because like many fermentation recipes and many folk recipes in general, it is a synthesis of all that has come before.

By "mine" I mean simply that it's the one that I use, and the one that I am offering here today.

Cucumber Pickles (Fermented)


- two 32-oz wide-mouth mason jars with one tight-fitting lid
- a tablespoon measure
- (optional) a digital kitchen scale


- 6 or 8 or more pickling cucumbers, 4 to 5 inches long each, an inch or less in diameter
- 3 tablespoons of additive-free kosher salt or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 or 3 bay leaves
- (optional) a tablespoon of preservative-free, mixed pickling spices
- boiling water (for cleaning jars)
- 24 oz or so of room temp water, filtered or previously boiled and cooled


Sterilize jars and lid by pouring boiling water over all surfaces.

Measure approximately 24 oz (750ml) of water into one of the mason jars (most of them have markings), add 3 tablespoons (45g) of salt, close lid, and shake until dissolved. The goal is for the weight of the salt to be approximately 6% of the weight of the water.

To the other, empty mason jar, add the bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, and any other spices.

Take one cucumber, cut approximately 1/4" off each end, and put it in this jar atop the spices. Repeat this step with subsequent cucumbers until the jar is full and you can add no more cucumbers. They should be snug. Don't be afraid to get a little rough with them.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers to within 3/4" or so of the top of the jar.

Close the lid finger-tight. 

Leave in a dark, cool corner for a few days to a week, depending on ambient temperature and desired sourness. They should get bubbly. Refrigerate.

Mazel tov! You have made fermented pickles!

Eat any time. They will keep in the refrigerator for a month or two or maybe more.

Save the brine for picklebacks, to use as a salad dressing base, as a digestive tonic, or as a sports drink. (So many electrolytes!)

photo courtesy of Betty Greenwald of "Love Brines"

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