When we plan out what we will buy for the garden every spring always have a few mainstays. Tomatoes and Zucchini are big veggies in our house that we like to have fresh as much as possible. They are even better when we can grow enough to freeze them for winter use too.
We like to add in rotating veggies as well. This gives us a chance to try out ones that might become mainstays as well as some variety over the course of our summer garden dining. This year one of the new veggies was cucumbers.
The plant has been great. It seems to have had an unending supply of cucs for our enjoyment. So far I have used some as fresh cucs and then others as fridge pickles (Juice from a lime, salt, and garlic let em sit for a few hours to a day and they be good). The last harvest produced a decent amount for me to turn into lacto pickles.
The process of natural fermentation involves curing something in a salt brine and then letting lactobacillus feast on the sugars present. The lacto bacteria produces a sour flavor that we welcome in many foods and even drinks. A good example is yogurt. It is produced with lactobacillus cultures.
The brine I use for this process is the same as I use when I make sauerkraut. The combination of salt and temperature are the most important ingredients in this process. Lactobacillus can live in a high salt environment where many harmful bacterias can not. By keeping the temperature lower (around 65 to 70 degrees), you also discourage other bacterial growth as well.
There aren’t any flashy moves to this. You don’t need any specialized equipment other than a container you can cover easily. The process hasn’t changed much since it first came into practice in early recorded history. The only thing that has really changed is our knowledge of how the process works and why.
When you have everything set and ready, all you need to do is leave it alone for 3 weeks to a month. Nature will take care of the rest. After the pickles are ready drain off the brine and bring it to a boil. Transfer the pickles to a new container and store them in your fridge for up to 6 months covered with the boiled brine. Side note: you boil the brine to kill off the bacteria. Because the bacteria live in the brine you want to sterilize the brine to reintroduce it back to your pickles. The residual salt and acidic liquid will help prevent spoilage.
Time for a pint…