Cultured Veggies 101: Pickles

Last year, my Aunt Laina and fellow blogger, started talking about cultured vegetables--their health benefits and how delicious the recipes were she had been trying. I believe the first few times she told me about her Kifer and Kimchi, I looked at her like her hair was on fire! Then, we attended a Cultured Vegetable Workshop one weekend last spring with the author of The Cultured Food LifeDonna Schwenk, and our eyes were opened to the possibilities. With the harvest of our local gardens and farmer's markets locally, I find myself trying to find ways to make the most of these organic produce options. I am not much of a cucumber fan, but I LOVE dill pickles. In fact, I go through about a jar a week; so, I was eager to try this recipe and was pleasantly surprised at how deliciously crunchy, salty and sour these turned out! 

Want more recipes like this? Check out our other "Cultured Foods 101" posts:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Caldwell culture starter pack (Purchase at your local health food store, or order here or here.)

  • 3-4 lbs small cucumbers, if available; otherwise, large is fine. Washed, ends cut off and cut into spears.

  • 6 Tblsp Celtic Sea Salt. (Order here, or purchase at your local health food store.)

  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • Fresh Dill, washed and coarsely chopped

  • 4 Bay leaves

  • 4 whole garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp whole mixed peppercorns, or ground pepper

  • 1 tsp juniper berries (not from the tree in your yard, please)

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 tsp coriander seed

  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

  • Pinch of cloves

  • Pinch of all-spice

  • Pinch of mustard seeds

Note: I mix and match my seasonings based on what is available and in season at my local grocery store and health food store. I did not find juniper berries or coriander seeds for this particular batch, and it was still amazing! I suggest you play around with the flavors of what you prefer and see what combination becomes your family's favorite!

Directions:

Step 1: Mince one small white onion, you will need about 1 heaping tablespoon for each jar of cucumbers. 

Step 2: Combine all dry seasonings in medium-sized bowl, stirring well to make sure you have an even mixture of ingredients.

Step 3: In clean, quart-sized jars, place as many pickle spears as you can fit, allowing a little space between them for your spices, culture starter, and water to move around. I like how cute it is to put the cucumbers in the jars just like the grocery store pickles! Place your minced onion and whole garlic clove in each jar.

Step 4: Dissolve culture starter pack in 1 cup warm water, and evenly disperse between jars. I recommend putting 1 tablespoon of the starter water in each jar at a time, and working back through your jars until the starter water is gone.

 

Step 5: Evenly disperse your mixture of seasonings in a similar manner as the culture water in Step 4.

Step 6: Fill the jars with filtered water, leaving 1 inch at the top, as this is where the bubbling and fermenting will take place! Seal the jars with your lids, and tip the jars up and down gently to really make sure the ingredients are evenly dispersed through the jar. Allow these to sit on your counter, out of direct sunlight, for three days. They are ready to enjoy after day 3, but I allowed mine to sit in the fridge for a couple more days. They will last for 9 months in your refrigerator! 

Note: You will need to release the pressure that builds up in your jar after day 3, so keep an eye on it, as the pressure can actually bend the metal lids!

These are a delicious way to get even the pickiest eater to enjoy their vegetables, as well as sneak some amazing probiotics into their diet. These are great to bring to a football tailgate, family gathering, or even serve alongside a sandwich each day for lunch. 

I did find these to be a little more salty than I prefer, so I would recommend cutting back a couple tablespoons of the celtic sea salt, but do not remove completely from the recipe, as the celtic sea salt is the magic ingredient that keeps your vegetables crunchy!

Photos by: Shannon Kaye Photography

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