Homemade lacto fermented pickled cucumbers experiment

Discussion in 'Food - Cooking, Preserving & Fermentation' started by Mark, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I've been wanting to pickle cucumbers the lacto fermentation way for several months and now that cucumber growing season is here I have my first real harvest!

    Cucumbers can theoretically be grown all year round in the subtropics; however, they don't grow too well through summer or winter and I find the most realistic time to grow them is autumn and spring (especially spring).

    So I picked my first real harvest this afternoon and immediately packed them into one of my big Fido fermenting jars with an airlock added some garlic, fresh dill (including some seeds), topped it off with a few grape leaves, and then poured my brine over to cover.

    The grape leaves are supposed to release tannin, which helps to keep the cucumbers crisp and crunchy plus when they are stuffed into the top of the jar they stop herbs etc from rising up and floating on top of the brine.

    I make the brine out of natural sea salt and spring water at a ratio of 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 cup of water. It sounds like a lot of salt but it is about right and certainly worked perfectly for my pickled mixed vegetables.

    On top of the grape leaves I placed two smooth river rocks (I boiled and cleaned them) and this is to keep everything under the brine, which is very important otherwise it could spoil.

    I've never made fermented pickled cucumbers before so I'm not exactly sure how long it will take? Some say about 10 days but it could several weeks... we'll see hey.

    Look at these little beauties!
    harvested cucumbers ready for pickling.jpg

    Rubbed the spikes off the cucumbers and sliced the bigger ones into smaller pieces. There's a few West Indian cucumbers there also, plus the garlic and dill.
    cucumbers garlic and dill.jpg
    Grape leaves and rocks on top.
    cucumbers packed into jar with grape leaves and rock weight.jpg
    Making the brine and pour that over.
    mixing brine for pickled cucumbers natural sea salt.jpg

    Now the wait begins for the fermentation process to do its thing - I'll probably test them in about 10 days time to see how they are tasting.
    cucumbers packed into fido jar with airlock.jpg
     
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  2. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    I love my dill pickles. Another way to get tannin is 1 teabag per 2-4 litres of juice-I discovered this when researching fruit wines.;)
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    How do you think this would affect the taste of the pickles yes/no? Pickled cucumbers and iced tea :D It doesn't sound too bad really... :dunno:
     
  4. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    I don't think it would affect it at all.....?:dunno:
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You don't reckon the tea taste would go through the pickles?
     
  6. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    I don't think it would be any different to grape leaves, as long as you didn't over-do it....:dunno: Camellia, grape what's the difference? You could probably even use Coolibah bark or Black Wattle bark, Oak chips or...whatever ?? The tea was a replacement for tannin from grape skins, by the way. Maybe even a dash of Balsamic vinegar would have the same result? I'm just presuming the colour in it is the tannins.:dunno:
     
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  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Ok fair enough - sounds good!
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Well, we're at 10 days and I have tasted a pickled cucumber (or two) and whilst they are pleasant it's obviously still a little too salty for my taste so I'm hoping if I give them another 3-5 more days they'll sharpen up a bit.

    You can see the difference in the liquid how cloudy it is (which is completely normal) from the original bottling - it's just the lacto bacteria growing in numbers. Also, for my next bottle I'm going to add a heap more dill to really bump that flavour up and perhaps help a little more with the fermentation process.

    The cucumbers are still crunchy! Yes, they have lost the original dark green colour but again that's normal for naturally fermented dill pickles.

    lacto fermented pickled cucumbers at 10 days.jpg
     
  9. Jenni

    Jenni Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Where do you get the ferment jars from? Or did you make them?
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    So I waited about another 5 days and the cucumbers soured up a little more definitely passing my taste test and more importantly the kids love them. I had to explain to the boys why these pickles were submerged in a cloudy liquid because they noticed this glaring difference between these lacto fermented ones compared to the shop variety. Basically, I said it was sort of like how yogurt is made with good bacteria and that these pickles are healthier than the shop ones - they accepted the explanation ;)

    Honestly, these naturally lacto fermented dill cucumbers are fantastic - they're crunchy as - and I have to use all my willpower not to constantly munch on another one every time I open the fridge door. Having said that, I think they ended up just slightly over salty and a little too light on the dill flavour so for my next batch I really packed the fresh dill in! However, I decided to keep the brine strength the same because the weather is starting to heat up and apparently a little extra salt counteracts the warmer conditions for fermentation otherwise they could go to mush.

    I ended up harvesting another heap of bush cucumbers but these were mostly matures so I decided to dice and slice them to see how they would go using the exact same method. I still have my beetroot fermenting in my other Fido jar so I removed the finished pickled cucumbers and packed them into smaller jars so I could use this same jar again for my next batch.

    There was some old liquid (lacto fermentation brine) left over so I poured it into a jug, washed the jar out and packed it again with the diced cucumbers then used about 2 cups of the old brine as a starter mixed with new brine. The large jar got filled so I packed two smaller Weck jars one with sliced cucumbers and the other with diced again. The Weck jars don't have an air-lock but any excess gas build up is supposed to seep out through the rubber grommet in the lid anyway.

    My lacto fermented dill cucumber test continues! :D

    Packing into smaller jars

    transferring fermented pickles into smaller jars.jpg

    Here's what they look like from the top
    naturally fermented lacto pickled cucumbers top view.jpg

    My new harvest
    cucumbers on chopping board ready for fermenting.jpg

    Sliced cucumber in the Weck jar - no grape leaves, dill, garlic, and added peppercorns this time...
    Fermenting sliced cucumber in weck jar.jpg

    Diced in the large Fido jar ready for the brine, grape leaves etc
    diced cucumber in fido jar lacto fermentation.jpg
     
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  12. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    Had no luck growing dill yet(??*$!??), I thought it was a feral plant. I have pink rock salt now. Tuesday I called in at the stockfeed shop again. 1kg Himalayan pink salt, 1kg brewers yeast, and 3L unrefined cider vinegar.....-for $20. For comparison yeast is $2 min. for 7g. I have had greek pickled(?) rolled up in grape leaves, and it was ok. But around here the vineyards are sprayed constantly. Fungicide and insecticide....eeww.
    So lacto-fermented mustard greens will be the first for me-I did standard pickles the other day, and they turned out ok. Sweet-mustard pickle taste, despite being made with 5-spice and horseradish-tasting greens- I was trying to replicate a Korean lacto recipe that is made with a similar green. But heating reduces the horseradish bite, which I want.
     
  13. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    Well, the rush is on here. The first and second lots of curled mustard are in, as are the 2 small lots of Rats-tail Radishes. 5 days now, and no difference. Maybe I overdid the salt? Not to worry. A massive pick of lettuce and tatsoi next. I'll try to give away the lettuce, and lacto the tatsoi. Down the track is cauli, broccoli, wong bok, then probably beetroot. Off topic, but my first Crookneck zucchinis are born! Bloody lucky to have heaps of bees here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  14. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    It's possible... As you know I'm just learning about lacto fermentation but I guess if the salt mix (brine) is a bit too heavy it might just sit there or take longer to ferment. I believe the lacto fermentation process does actually eat salt or convert it somehow - that's what I read anyway...

    Also, different veggies might react differently to certain brine strengths? I'm still fermenting my first batch of beetroot - I'll test it again soon but it's going nowhere fast :) I'll make a totally new thread about lacto fermenting beetroot so we can track different vegetables and make it easier to find later. If you @Tim C (or anyone else) can start new threads about whatever other types of vegetables etc you're lacto fermenting that'd be great also. Then, we can maybe compare the differences.

    You bet! Same here, thankfully...
     
  15. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    I've now pickled Rats-tails, Mustard greens, Wong Bok, and cucumbers. It is definitely a learning process. The first batch of Rats-tails were too salty. They didn't start fermenting for about 2 weeks, but then even washed and soaked in fresh water, they were too salty. The next batch I used less (pink rock) salt- about 1 heaped tspn for 200ml. They were fermenting in a few days and after 2 weeks the saltiness had all but gone. Also I sliced this lot for jar compaction and ease of handling.
    The Mustard greens are too chewy. Maybe they could be used cooked. It may be due to being grown in too much heat.
    The Wong Bok is spot-on. Not too salty, and a nice crunch.
    Cucumbers done with a good handful of Dill seeds- should be ready soon.
    Also did some (Chioggia) beetroot, but that was white vinegar/water/salt. That's only been done for 2 days so far. I think I over-cooked the beet a bit, as it is quite soft. The next batch will be lacto and cooked less.
    Chillis and capsicums will be experimented with in a few weeks.:)
     
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  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Good going Tim!

    Yep, I'm beginning to think not all vegetables pickle equally so as you are saying different veggies need more or less salt. Also, I think it makes a difference how big the batch is and what the average temperature is.

    My lacto beetroot are still going nowhere. They have hardly changed at all since I brined them 2 months ago. Since then I have added some lacto juice from my sauerkraut and cucumbers but it hasn't kicked them along too much...

    My mustard greens were too chewy also - I can't say I'm overly keen on pickled mustard but I'm not surprised your Wong Bok was a success because I'm yet to pickle anything from the brassica or leafy green family I didn't love!

    I'm going to experiment with pickling some capicums and chillies also soon - see how we go (maybe start a separate thread for them).
     
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  17. RNelson Cust

    RNelson Cust Member Premium Member

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    Hi Tim

    I do brine pickles often. My recipe is the same as yours except I leave mine for at least 4 weeks, longer if I have enough pickles in inventory. The longer I leave them in the brine the better they taste.

    I just started eating a batch of sauerkraut that's at least 8 weeks old, probably older.

    NelsonC
     
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