Brine-Cured Pickles – 2 Ways for twice the pucker!

I LOVE me some pickles… LOVE.  I have ever since I can remember.  My childhood bestie and I used to get a little dixie cup full of pickle juice before we played our elementary school basketball games… we thought it gave us super-strength energy  🙂

Now that I’m delving into this fermented foods thing… making pickles is just a no-brainer!  I’m calling these Brine-cured… because they are… and also because most people wouldn’t go near anything called “fermented!”  We have collectively forgotten that THIS is the REAL way our ancestors preserved things… not with chemicals and un-natural nasties… boo on THAT!

So – I totally didn’t take any pictures of the process… just the finished product.  I’m still learning this blogging stuff… so… just imagine loads of pictures of fresh cucumbers, dill and spices being artfully arranged and displayed below….

oooooh.

aaaaaaah

such nice pictures!

And then… the magnificent results!

Spicy Italian and Garlic Dill Pickles

We got your Spicy Italian Pickles on the left and your Garlic Dill Pickles on your right.  The Italian pickles are “half sour” and the Dill are “full sour” – It’s just a matter of how much salt you put into the brine… who know, right??

So.  I have to wait for the results… and I’ll be posting as soon as they are ready to get in my belly.  Until then, here are the recipes so you can play along:

Spicy Italian Pickles

Put into the bottom of a ½ gallon jar:
3 T Dried Basil (or a few sprigs fresh)
2 T Dried Oregano (or a few big sprigs fresh)
1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary (or about 1 T dried)
1 T Dried Red Pepper Flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Oak Leaves – (can also use Grape or Horseradish leaves, or a few pinches of black tea leaves.. this is what keeps your pickles CRUNCHY!)

Pack your jar with:
1.5 lbs Pickling Cucumbers (cut the tips off both ends to prevent mushiness)

Dissolve together, then pour into pickle jar:
2 T Sea Salt (NOT iodized table salt)
1 quart water – filtered, purified, spring, or tap water left out for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine

Place a weight on top to keep cucumbers submerged.  Cover with airlock jar (or pickling lid/weight of your choice) and a towel.  Sit on your counter or in a cabinet.  And now… you wait.  You can try them in about 4 days and see if you are happy with the flavor.  Most people let them go for 1-4 weeks.  When they taste the way you like them, put a regular lid on them and keep them in the refrigerator.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Put into the bottom of a ½ gallon jar:
2 Cloves Garlic
2 t Black Peppercorns
4 Heads of flowering/seeded Dill… and some frilly fronds if you want
2 Oak Leaves – (can also use Grape or Horseradish leaves, or a few pinches of black tea leaves.. this is what keeps your pickles CRUNCHY!)

Pack your jar with:
1.5 lbs Pickling Cucumbers (cut the tips off both ends to prevent mushiness)

Dissolve together, then pour into pickle jar:
3 T Sea Salt (NOT iodized table salt)
1 quart water – filtered, purified, spring, or tap water left out for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine

Place a weight on top to keep cucumbers submerged.  Cover with airlock jar (or pickling lid/weight of your choice) and a towel.  Sit on your counter or in a cabinet.  And now… you wait.  You can try them in about 4 days and see if you are happy with the flavor.  Most people let them go for 1-4 weeks.  When they taste the way you like them, put a regular lid on them and keep them in the refrigerator.

A word about the brine concentration…
Basically, with pickles, the more salt, the more sour the final product, but it needs to be within a certain range.  Too little salt, and you get mold – too much salt, and the bacteria aren’t able to eat it all and your pickles will be too salty.  There are tons of different opinions out there about the brine strength and what is proper. Some people say that using a certain amount of salt per weight of veggies is the most proper way… and I can totally buy that.  But let’s be honest… who here is gonna break out their handy-dandy kitchen scale every time they want to pickle something??  Not me… seriously… I only bought a scale for some work stuff, and I hate dragging it out.  Luckily, some really awesome people have made it easy for us regular folk.  Sandor Katz wrote an awesome book called Wild Fermentation.  If you are interested in doing any kind of pickling or fermenting (including wine and beer), this is an amazing book to get!  Here is a quote from his book and website about pickles:

“Added to 1 quart of water, each tablespoon of sea salt (weighing about .6 ounce) adds 1.8% brine. So 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 quart of water yields a 3.6% brine, 3 tablespoons yields 5.4%, and so on. In the metric system, each 15 milliliters of salt (weighing 17 grams) added to 1 liter of water yields 1.8% brine.
Some old-time recipes call for brines with enough salt to float an egg. This translates to about a 10% salt solution. This is enough salt to preserve pickles for quite some time, but they are too salty to consume without a long desalinating soak in fresh water first. Low-salt pickles, around 3.5% brine, are “half-sours” in delicatessen lingo. This recipe is for sour, fairly salty pickles, using around 5.4% brine. Experiment with brine strength. A general rule of thumb to consider in salting your ferments: more salt to slow microorganism action in summer heat; less salt in winter when microbial action slows.”

So – there’s the long answer – the short answer is this:
Kinda sour pickles = 2T salt in 1 quart water
Really sour pickles = 3T salt in 1 quart water

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this yourself… what your results were/are… and what else you’ve tried to pickle.

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4 comments

  1. I made the spicy garlic dill pickles last year, probably around July 2014, I made 4 quarts, they didn’t even last through the month of September, they were amazing! Absolutely loved them, I saved your recipe on pinterest and pulled it up to make it again with the small picklers I bought at the grocery store yesterday, this time I will be making 2 half gallons, I’m pretty sure these won’t stick around here for very long either! Thank you for the great recipe!

    Like

    • That is awesome!! I’m glad you all liked them. I’m hoping to get a big crop of home-grown cucumbers this year to make up a batch myself 🙂

      Like

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