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Excited about my first batch of half sour pickles

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've posted over the years about my enjoyment of pickles. I've had small successes doing cold packed pickles. I did make full sour pickles once but I think I did quite a few things wrong and on top of that I have come to realize I just flat don't care for sourness of full sours. So I recently decided to jump in a little more and picked up a large ceramic crock as well as two large ceramic weight stones. In addition to pickles I am hoping to do sauerkraut.

 

Our local flea market has nice produce stands and it is ridiculous how cheap I can get say 20 pickling cucumbers (around 3.50) so making my own pickles is going to be something I can do every week with almost no cost. Here's my new setup

 

 

After reading a bit I went with right at 1/4 cup of pickling salt to 4 cups of water. I believe that may be on the higher end but I like saltier pickles and when tasting the brine it seemed fine. This first batch took 12 cups to sufficiently cover. Also, I am trying to get a result similar to a Jewish deli pickle so I tried to stay with what I read was authenticate which was simply crushed garlic and black peppercorns. I couldn't help it and went ahead and added some dill seed since I really like garlic dills!

 

Now it sits with a dish towel covering it. I will keep the thread updated daily with progress over the next few days. At around three days I should have half sours and I will then pack them into jars headed for the refrigerator.

 

Feel free to chime in on any experience you've had with fermenting, what your favorite spice mixtures are, other types of veges you've done, etc.

post #2 of 13

Cool East, hope you can share some pics of finished product. Have you seen Pete's review of his fermenting jar?

 

 

 

 

 

He also posted a great how-to on making sauerkraut with it: 

 

Making Sauerkraut
By Pete Posted 1028 views 2 comments

 

 

We might as well drag him into the conversation anything to share @Pete 

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

@Nicko thanks! That's a great review and really nice article. I'm looking forward to trying kraut but I may end up buying another crock because it takes quite a bit longer so I'd like to keep one free for the pickles or pickling other veges.

 

Update for day two. The smell is very nice, you can certainly smell the fermentation occurring along with a nice punch of garlic. Here's what they look like in the crock. Notice the brine is getting a bit cloudy, that is normal for naturally fermented pickles.

 

 

I pulled a couple to show the color. They are still quite bright, but with half sours they will remain somewhat bright. The smell of the cucumber is still there. At the end of tomorrow I will pull one to taste, and then I can decide whether to go another day or not. With the temperatures it's been a bit cooler in the house and that most likely has slowed the fermentation just a bit.

 

post #4 of 13

Awesome looking pickles!

post #5 of 13

Oooooh.  Now I want a pastrami on rye to go with it. Great job.

post #6 of 13

Looks good.  I love pickles, usually only make quick refrigerator types, but will do some fermented examples soon.

 

mjb.

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post #7 of 13

Those cukes are looking good!!  I can't wait to hear how they turned out.  Both my brother and I are in fermenting foods and we both love pickles.  He prefers full sours and will let his pickles ferment for upwards of 6-7 weeks.  I prefer half sours and I usually refrigerate mine within a week.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Update: Just after day 3

The fermentation kicked in pretty good, as evidenced by the bubbles that are on the surface of the brine below. This is similar to seeing the bubbles produced by your dry yeast when mixed with warm water, it lets you know (in this case) the lactobacillus are having a good time working on the sugars down there! Also note that the brine has become more cloudy, this is normal.

 

 

Today was tasting day! I took a couple shots, the first to show the comparison to the day 2 color. Notice the brightness of the cucumber has subdued a bit and you can see that the brine has sufficiently permeated the flesh of the cucumber. In the second shot, the cross section shows this a little better.

 

 

 

The taste is very good. The garlic really carried through, more than in past pickling I've done. There is a definite "tang" to them from the fermentation but it is not overpowering. These pickles have no vinegar in the brine so the natural sour kick really replaces what is typically a very astringent vinegar bite in say quick pack refrigerator pickles. They are not as crisp as a cold packed pickle but I believe that just comes with the territory here. One thing that I will note, although I like a salty pickle these were just beyond what I would prefer. For round two I am going to alter the salt concentration to 1/4 cup per 6 cups of water. In order to correct this, when I packed these pickles I went with about 2/3 of brine and added 1/3 fresh spring water to dilute the brine just a bit while they sit in the refrigerator.

 

All in all, this was a successful experiment. Accounting for the cost of the garlic, salt, and dill I'd say these cost me about $1.25 USD per jar! There is little work involved as well since they do not require any attention while fermenting. Here's the finished batch jarred with some fresh dill and ready for the refrigerator. I think I will follow Cerise's lead and have my first one with a piled high pastrami on rye!

 

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Sorry to post again on my own thread but there was a point that I didn't express here.

 

I've spent a good amount of time trying to create great pickles (years in fact although not constantly). Essentially to replicate some of the best pickles you might find in stores or restaurants. The overwhelming thought when biting into a great pickle is "zesty.. and spicy" and that led me down a road of trying to creating stupidly complex spice combinations to use in pickling.

 

This experiment taught me that when it comes to pickles, less is more. These pickles have a deep zesty and spicy flavor but really it was just garlic, black peppercorn, and a couple dill seeds. Those spices were able to stand out and shine because I didn't muddle it with mustard, coriander, clove, bay leaves, etc.

 

Who would have thought that... not me.

post #10 of 13

As a fan of all pickles, I am thinking about buying the fermentation jar you use. Could you use the same brine recipe for onions, carrots, etc. that you use for cucumbers? I only ever use a quick pickle recipe and having learned about long-term pickling. Any suggestions or links to put me on the right path?

Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by helloitslucas View Post
 

As a fan of all pickles, I am thinking about buying the fermentation jar you use. Could you use the same brine recipe for onions, carrots, etc. that you use for cucumbers? I only ever use a quick pickle recipe and having learned about long-term pickling. Any suggestions or links to put me on the right path?

 

You can definitely use the same brine recipe for other types of vegetables. I'm still adjusting mine, going with 1/4 cup of salt to 6 cups of water might still be a bit too salty, so it's something you just have to figure out while keeping things in the zone. I like the crock a lot, and noticed that there are quite a few people on reddits pickling group that use the same one. I am thinking of pickling some beets and maybe mixing in onions with them. I'm also curious about adding hot peppers to make spicy pickled vegetables! There are lots of possibilities!

post #12 of 13

Beets are exactly what I am thinking about pickling as well as banana peppers. I am a member of Reddit, so if you could message me the subreddit that would be great! Thanks!

Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

I picked up a head of cauliflower and some Hungarian wax peppers to try tonight. I guess there is also a sort of drink called "beet kvass" made by fermenting beets, that is supposed to be an extremely healthy tonic, apparently very popular in Russia and other parts of Europe?

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