The basics of fruit or vegetables fermentation involve food to be cured in brine allowing the natural bacteria to start the fermentation process by producing lactic acid. Lactic acid preserves food and adds probiotics naturally to aid in digestion and support general health.
However it needs to be emphasised that not all pickles foods are fermented. Many pickled foods are now preserved in an acidic medium such vinegar and are also pasteurised – these industrial processes are designed to save time and make food production more cost effective. The results of these methods do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic benefits that fermented foods traditionally provide.
Following our earlier article Fermentation: How It Can Improve Your Health, today we would like to introduce you to an old and simple method of fermenting cucumbers that has not changed through the test of time.
Proper Pickled Cucumbers
- 1 litre of water
- 2 Tbsp. sea salt
- 800 grams small cucumbers
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon all spice powder
- 1 chilli
- A teaspoon dill seeds or a small handful of dill sprigs *optional
- Large mixing bowl
- Fermenting jar or crock
- Wooden spoon
- Chopping board
- Heat proof measuring jug or bowl
- Rinse and give the cucumbers a good wash before setting it aside.
- To make your brine solution, add the herbs, spices and salt to a heat proof measuring jug or bowl and dissolve by adding hot water.
- In a clean jar or crock, layer and pack down the cucumbers along with the garlic, leaving 3cm headspace on top.
- Pour in the brine solution making sure that the vegetables are fully submerged. This is where you should be using a weight or leaf to help keep everything submerged.
- Leave the ferment to sit on the bench for 2-3 days until it starts fizzing a little, you'll notice small bubbles appearing as fermentation takes it's place. At this point you can start cutting small bits off a cucumber to taste. Your ferment is ready once you're happy with the taste and texture of your cucumber. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 4 months to slow the fermentation down.
- The pickled cucumber will become more tart and cucumber as fermentation continues.
- Feel free to have a play around with a mix of seasonal vegetable by making the same brine solution. Add/swap herbs and spices to taste. As the ferment ages, the salt flavour will dissipate and take on a sour flavour.
- Adjust fermentation time accordingly to suit the environment, ferments speed up in warmer environments.
- The finer the vegetable cut, the greater the surface area. This means the faster the ferment.
- Don't be alarmed if the brine turns cloudy, it is normal.
Safe fermentation deprives vegetables of oxygen by submerging it in liquid and changes the environment in a way that allows certain bacteria to thrive and prevents others from growing. The exclusion of air makes it near impossible for mould to grow while encourages lactic acid bacteria to thrive. Make sure your ferment is submerged with brine!