My friend, Stephen, and an ex-coworker, Mike, both told me they were making pickles last month. This got me thinking that I should try to make pickles as well. The dill pickle is one of my staples. It has excellent flavor and minimal calories (not that I count them). Stephen cans pickles and Mike did a fermented pickle. Darcy and I fondly recall some New York deli style pickles we had in Hawaii years ago, and I think they were the fermented (or half-sour) type. I believe that these are also called crock pickles. I found the following recipe for crock pickles on the Food Network website, courtesy of Alton Brown.
5 1/2 ounces pickling salt, approximately 1/2 cup
1 gallon filtered water
3 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6-inches long
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 large bunch dill
- Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved.
- Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Set aside.
- Place the peppercorns, pepper flakes, garlic, dill seed and fresh dill into a 1-gallon crock. Add the cucumbers to the crock on top of the aromatics. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers in order to completely cover. Pour the remaining water into a 1-gallon ziptop plastic bag and seal. Place the bag on top of the pickles making sure that all of them are completely submerged in the brine. Set in a cool, dry place.
- Check the crock after 3 days. Fermentation has begun if you see bubbles rising to the top of the crock. After this, check the crock daily and skim off any scum that forms. If scum forms on the plastic bag, rinse it off and return to the top of the crock.
- The fermentation is complete when the pickles taste sour and the bubbles have stopped rising; this should take approximately 6 to 7 days. Once this happens, cover the crock loosely and place in the refrigerator for 3 days, skimming daily or as needed. Store for up to 2 months in the refrigerator, skimming as needed. If the pickles should become soft or begin to take on an off odor, this is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.