Sunday, June 28, 2015

Art of a Different Kind

Unfortunately, my life doesn't consist entirely of painting and other things too often take priority over time in the studio.

One such other priority is putting up the fresh produce we get from our garden.  This year has been a tad slow for garden veggies but they're beginning to ripen seemingly all at once now.  We're getting an abundance of cucumbers right now and even my husband can't eat them as quickly as they ripen so I've begun to make pickles.  My favorites are fermented garlic dill pickles with a touch of hot pepper flakes and there's a real art to getting them just right.

Most recipes call for the cucumbers to be left whole or cut into spears but my preference is to slice them as you can see.  I'm trying a new recipe this year and am starting with just a quart jar to see if we like them.  If so, I'll put up a couple of gallons - any more than that and they'll go bad before we eat them.

As I said, this is a fermented pickle.  You cover the cucumbers with a salty brine and keep them submerged in that brine to keep bad bacteria out while allowing good bacteria/yeast to ferment the cukes.  This process is much like bread, wine or beer using fermentation to produce their results.  After a few days to a couple of weeks of them sitting on the counter fermenting, you can put them into the refrigerator where they'll keep for several months or you can process them in a canner to stop the fermentation.  If you can them, you can leave them on a shelf in the pantry but they really aren't as good as when they're just refrigerated and the fermentation is slowed but not completely stopped.

Naturally fermented vegetables are supposed to be very, very good for your health - I think they're just very, very good and well worth the trouble to make them!


Sue Clinker said...

Hi Jan

Sorry my Blogging is very sporadic at the moment but I'm fascinated by stuff like this .... we dabble with preserving fruits/berries from the garden but don't usually bother with veggies - mainly because David doesn't like them! He hates cucumber but I guess this must turn out more like gherkins (English name) or cornichons (French name)? Except I think both of these are pickles in vinegar and you seem to use just brine?


Jan said...

As usual, we seem to have different terms for what is probably the same thing - oh this "English" language! lol

Yes, I think we decided once before that American pickles are what you call gherkins but, for us, can refer to any fruit or veggie that's pickled in a brine or vinegar. For instance, sometimes "watermelon pickles" are made from the rind of a watermelon.

These pickles are made pretty much the same way sauerkraut is made. A solution of salt and water is poured into a jar or crock (depending on quantity being made) after the crock is filled with layers of cucumbers, dill, garlic cloves and pinches of hot pepper flakes and peppercorns (wish I had some of what you found in India!)

Here is the recipe I'm trying this season (only I'm adding the hot pepper flakes as the pickles I made last year had them and I loved the added zest.)

Perhaps if you can see the recipe, what I'm doing will make more sense! They also have a sauerkraut recipe which I'd like to try but we don't even try to grow cabbage because of the heat.

If you have questions, just ask!