Fermentation Basics – Pickles!

Pick a pickle

Making delicious pickles the traditional way is as easy as putting a container on the counter and letting it sit for a couple of weeks.  I’m not kidding.  Okay, there are a few other steps.  Here we go:

  1. Procure delicious, organic* vegetables** from farmer’s market
  2. Lightly rinse  but don’t peel vegetables
  3. Chop vegetables however you like
  4. Find herbs, spices or other vegetables that enhance those you’ve chosen
  5. Make enough salty brine to cover chopped vegetables (I like 1T per 2c water)
  6. Pour brine over vegetables, cover container and submerge veggies using the method of your choice.  I use the ghetto jar method.
  7.  Let them sit somewhere at room temperature for a couple of weeks to a month, tasting periodically to see when they are pickled enough for you

Seriously, that’s it.  That’s the whole process.  They taste really good!  Why aren’t you doing this right now?

The pickles above were made this way with a few fun additions.

1. Big jar of cherry belle and french breakfast radishes, just sumbmerged in brine.

2. Those gorgeous noodle beans (as long as my arm!) I left whole, minus their “threads” and stuck them in a 1/2 gallon jar with a ton of shiso buds, some halved hot peppers and a lot of garlic.

3. Romano beans with cinnamon basil from my garden, tons of garlic and some yellow habaneros.

*there appears to be evidence that the fermentation process actually eliminates pesticide residue from produce, but there are many, many reasons support farmers who adhere to organic practices.  Like the earth.  And the future of produce.  And saying a big fuck you to Monsanto.

**some vegetables work better than others.  The issue is the mush factor.  Some I never do, like squash and tomatoes, still others are good for mixing in with the good guys.  Others that get mushy, I sometimes don’t mind that much.  For instance, I make garlicky bell pepper ferments, and though they get soft, it doesn’t bother me.  I toss them into salads and sauces in place of roasted peppers.  Much more flavorful and loaded with good ‘biotics.

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7 comments

  1. Spanky M says:

    When you say, “.. cover container (don’t seal)..” do you mean just lightly screw on the lid so some air can still get in? The pickled radishes look really good!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Spanky,
      Actually the air is not the important part here*. I sometimes seal my jars for a day or two just so I can see everything start to bubble up. It’s fun! You just want to make sure you don’t leave it sealed for too long because a) pressure will build over time and your jar could explode (bad news, right?) b) if you have a metal lid attached, the bubbling ferment liquid will start to corrode, and it’s not a reaction you want happening.
      I hope that helps! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      *the bacteria you want to grow thrive in an anaerobic (air-free) environment. That’s why keeping the vegetables submerged in liquid is so important. That’s also why if you just leave a vegetable sitting out, it will eventually rot, but it will just ferment under water.

    • Amanda says:

      No! No vinegar for lacto-fermented pickles! The acidity of these pickles comes from the fermentation process. Give it a shot. Easy and delicious!

  2. Lisa says:

    I tried the lactopickle method, but after two weeks there was stuff floating around the top portion of the jar and when I checked the pickles, they were mushy. What did I do wrong?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Without knowing more it’s hard for me to say. The most likely possibilities: the temperature in your home, the vegetable you chose, the salt level, the submersion. Happy to try to diagnose for you if you provide a bit more detail.

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