After testing recipes, “trial and error” style, I found a winner avowed by family, friends, and most importantly, R. R’s my tester taster, an analytical engineery sort who is a connoisseur of pickles, pickling, and bacteria science.
I tried lacto fermented giant dill pickles last year, which went well, except for the extreme salt factor. We had to drown them in water after the fermentation process so they would be edible. This summer, I tried lacto fermenting our Boston Pickling Cucumbers right before leaving for, well, Boston, and the process didn’t go so well. By day 3, R noticed the glass jars expanding to near explosion and unscrewed the caps to let the gaseous air out. Upon my return, a couple of days later, we debated whether or not to taste the pickles and risk a bout of possible botulism. After much debate, research, and indecisiveness, I finally just threw those pickles out and gave the lacto fermentation process another go with a different recipe. This batch, which still sits in the fridge, is free from botulism, being that the salt to water ratio in the brine insured good bacteria would prevail and the fact I survived test tasting them. But, the flavor is tainted with a bit of fizziness in each bite. These are definitely not the ideal pickles we were hoping for.
I then decided to take a different approach and try my luck with refrigerated pickles. This method produced tasty pickles, however, they cannot be shelved, last for about a month in the refrigerator, and lack much of the beneficial bacteria gained from lacto fermentation. On a much more positive note, I made refrigerated pickles without bad bacteria, like botulism, and everyone who has tasted them can’t seem to get enough. This recipe is easy, versatile, and best of all; more cucumbers can be added to the brine as they are taken out.
- 16 ounces white vinegar
- 5 tbsps sea salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 generous bunch of fresh dill
- 6 cups of sliced cucumber
- *Other spices
- pinch of red pepper flakes, or homemade chili flakes (we added our own habanero)
- 1 habanero (Take out the stem and slice in half. Leave the seeds or take them out- depends on how spicy you want your pickles)
In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir constantly. When the salt and sugar are totally dissolved, remove the brine from the heat and set aside to cool.
Add the spices, garlic, dill, and pack the sliced cucumbers into a 48-ounce jar, or divide the ingredients into three 16oz mason-type jars.
Pour the cooled brine into the jar(s), cover, and shake gently from top to bottom, to distribute the brine throughout. Add more vinegar, if needed, to make sure the brine covers the cucumber slices.
Put and store the pickles in the refrigerator. Resist the urge to indulge for at least 24 hours. After a day, your refrigerated pickles will be crisp, flavorful, and irresistible. Play around with this brine recipe by adding other garden veggies, like green beans, onions, cauliflower, and thinly sliced carrots and beets. For several weeks, I’ll be adding cucumbers and other vegetables growing in our garden as we eat the pickled treats, then I’ll throw out the brine and start anew.
Enjoy your pickles as a relish or side dish. We like to give our deli sandwiches a homemade zing!
Got cukes in your garden? They can be easily pickled with peace of mind! Although… I haven’t given up on lacto fermentation- will try and try again until perfected and posted!