August 2, 2011

How to make fermented cucumbers

My grandma Sophia was making beautiful fermented cucumbers, my mother Mira used to do it as well. So, since I moved to a house with nice cellar, I also started making fermented cucumbers for winter. They are not only perfect for eating straight, as part of salad or a delicious sour soup, they are also very valuable for digestion system.

Few years ago I met prof. Marek Naruszewicz who is well known nutrition specialist cooperating with Univerisities in Sweden and United States, President of the Polish Society for the Study of Atherosclerosis, know person in the world of science, medicine, pharmacy and healthy eating, published his works in "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" and other prestigious magazines. We talked about fermented cucumbers, although it wasn’t the main subject of our conversation… ha ha… Professor said that fermented cucumbers are very valuable, because they contain bacteria that are important for improving digestion and we can’t find it anywhere else, they are specific for fermented cucumbers…

So beautiful people! Ferment your cucumbers!

I will share with you today the method present in my family since decades. It works great. 100% guarantee. The only 2 reasons why fermenting cucumbers might be a flop. This happens if cucumbers were grown using chemical fertilizers – for some reasons such cucumbers do not ferment in a proper way, but rather become soft and smelly… brrrr… The second reason is too hot temperature during fermentation. For that reason better avoid temperatures over 80F/26C.

Containers: You need 1-gallon container for 5 pounds of cucumbers. They say that food-grade plastic is OK, but I’d rather choose glass containers, which are excellent.
Keep cucumbers 1/2 inches under brine during fermenting. It is possible to use plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container if you choose bigger container. If you use glass jars just place cucumbers tight enough so they don’t float freely. Don’t fill the jar fully. The level of brine should be at least 1 inch below the edge of the jar.
Wash and rinse the fermentation container, plate, and jars with hot water.

Dill and Cucumber Fermented Pickles

Take for one liter jar:
1 lbs. of 4-inch pickling cucumbers
2 tbsp. dill seed or 2 to 3 heads fresh or dry dill weed (seeds not the plant itself is important)
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. of mustard seeds
2-3 slices of fresh horseradish root
Proportions of the salt and water brine: ½ cup salt and 8 cups water. Do not use salt with added iodine.
How to make fermented cucumbers
Boil water with salt for 5 minutes. Wait until cools down. Wash cucumbers. Place all spices on bottom of a container. Add cucumbers. Pour cold water over cucumbers – remember leaving 1/2 inch space from the edge. Close the lid. Store where temperature is between 70°F/21C for about 1 week while fermenting.
After 5 days we like to eat such partially processed cucumbers, but they are half done. You may try if you like it. If don’t then wait at least 2 weeks.

Attention! If the pickles become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them.

Fully fermented pickles may be stored in their original containers for about at least 6 months, provided you don’t open the container.

Below you can see how my pickles were changing in 5 consecutive days.

Grab your copy of ultimate frmenting guide here The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World ;

Bon Appetit!

More information about fermenting veggies you will find in The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World


Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" said...

Gorgeous blog and this post about fermenting cucumbers is fantastic Ewa! Thanks for visiting my site today.

Anna said...

Thank you, I just learned something new: "if cucumbers were grown using chemical fertilizers they do not ferment well" I was wondering about this! They do Ferment, but not totally, just like light fermented and of course do not store well. Do you have any more info on this, I would love to hear it!

pythonesk99 said...

Ewa - How important (or not) is it that the pickles need to be kept in the dark? Thanks,

Ewa said...

pythonesk99, it doesn't have to be completely dark, but shouldn't be more than dark shadow.

Richard Yamin said...

Can I cut up cucumbers first?

Ewa said...

Richard, I've never done it before, always fermented entire cucumbers :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Can you tell me if the cloudiness in the last picture is normal? I just started my first batch of fermented cukes but after 5 days the brine is incredibly cloudy. Does it eventually clear like sauerkraut brine?

Ewa said...

Yes, it will clear with time.