Growing up in Berlin I had always pickles around me. They are a common snack on their own but also added to a variety of other foods. They make almost any sandwich better (think of a Reuben without a pickle!) and are an essential ingredient in German potato salad. The trick to pickling cucumbers and keeping them crunchy is to add tannins in the form of fresh vine leaves, or if you don’t have that, some dried green tea works too. I also recommend that you sample your batch regularly (my favorite part!) then stop fermentation by chilling when you are satisfied with the result/flavour. If you want to learn more about preserving and fermenting, I would highly recommend Sandor Katz book ‘The Art of Fermentation’.
What you need:
Zip lock bag
6 – 8 small cucumbers (or as much as your mason jar holds) - if you grow your own, Parisian Pickling are ideal or small Persian cucumbers
5% salt brine (50gr sea salt to 1 liter of water)
2 sprigs of fresh dill
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon of peppercorns
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 young vine leaves or
1 teaspoon of loose green tea leaves (organic if possible)
1⁄4 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon of allspice (whole corns)
1 - 2 small fresh chillies
1. Make a 5% salt brine by dissolving sea salt in unchlorinated water.
2. Place all small ingredients at the bottom of a jar.
3. Rinse cucumbers and pack tightly into the jar leaving 2-3 centimeters at the top.
4. Fill up the jar with the brine.
5. Weigh down pickles so they stay under the brine (otherwise they will get moldy and soft). This can be done with a ziplock bag filled with water or another type of weight submerged in the brine on top of the cucumbers. There are also lots of great gadgets available online if you decide you decide that pickling is your thing.
6. Don’t place a tight lid on top of the jar! This is a live ferment so gases need to escape during the fermentation process.
7. Keep in cool dry place for a 5 - 7 days (depending on the ambient temperature) and watch as the liquid turns milky (this is a good thing!). Scoop off any mold if it forms on top and refill with more salt brine.
8. Test you pickles every few days as they get stronger over time (add salt if needed). When they taste to your liking, transfer the jar into the fridge to slow down/stop fermentation. Make a new batch! In my experience, you can never have too many pickles.
Recipe by Sebastian Beck.