About Sour Pickles-A Traditional Food.
Sour Pickles are an age-old tradition not just for their enhanced flavors but also for their health benefits. Fermented foods are filled with beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and overall wellbeing. We need billions of these little guys in our digestive system, they help our bodies not only digest but also absorb the essential nutrients in our foods, they boost our immune systems too. These nutrients are not only necessary for our bodies processes, they help us feel better and think better too. Fermented foods also taste delicious! They have that sour, salty taste that our bodies crave, especially during the summer heat when we need to replenish our salts and vitality.
Simple Sour Pickles
Once you get the hang of this recipe it's so easy to throw together a batch of sour pickles to be enjoyed in just a few days time. We love to eat them as side dishes, snacks, on sandwiches or burgers. Bring them to a party, slice them up on a platter with cheese and bread or crackers and people will go wild!
Sour Dill Pickle Recipe
This is our go-to for a basic sour dill pickle recipe and can be scaled up or down depending on how much you want to make. Often, we have so many cucumbers coming out of the garden I find myself making large batches, enough to enjoy every day and share with family and friends. (See bellow for my Bread and Butter Sour Pickle Variation).
- Cucumbers. Pickling type cucumbers are best but you can use any cucumber really. I have used lemon cucumbers, Persian cucumbers or regular slicers from the store.
- Fresh Dill. You can use leaf, flower top and stems.
- Onion (optional)
- Black Peppercorns
- Salt. A mineral salt or sea salt is best. Don't use iodized table salt.
- Water. Filtered, spring or well water. Don't use chlorinated tap water.
Get your clean mason jar, pint, quart, half gallon, gallon, any size you want. In the bottom of the jar put the fresh dill, peppercorns (whole) and your garlic (pealed and sliced). Slice the cucumbers to fit into the jar or leave them whole if they are small enough to fit. I've sliced long ways for a spear or across for a disc, totally up to you. If you like pickled onion (we love it!) slice them or leave them whole and pealed if they are small. Pack your cucumbers and onion into the jar over the dill, garlic and peppercorns.
Make your salt water brine. (You want to use a non-chlorinated water as it will interfere with the fermentation so, well water or purified water is best.). The ratio of salt to water is what helps the proper fermentation to happen. You want a 5% brine so, 3 Tablespoons salt to one quart of water makes the right mixture. I like to use a mineral salt like Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt. You can adjust the amount of brine you make depending on the size jar. I find that I usually need half as much brine as the size of the jar. So if I am making a quart of pickles, I need 1 pint of brine. If I am making a half gallon of pickles, I need 1 quart of brine.
You want to cover your pickles completely with the brine. You can use a weight if you have one to keep the veggies bellow the brine line. Cover the jar with a piece of cotton fabric secured with a rubber band or string.
Let sit in a cool part of your home and check on it daily. Sometimes bubbles will happen and your jar could overflow. I like to but my jar on a plate just in case this happens.
Depending on the temperature in your home it generally takes 2-4 days to reach the desired sour fermentation stage (that's the average time in the summer warmth of our home). This is something you will really get a feel for as you continue to make sour pickles. Give them a taste as they go so that you can get a sense of the corresponding flavor and smell. I will say, they are always better once refrigerated for a day or so.
Once the fermentation is to your liking, Keep your pickles refrigerated! They should last for at least 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. I recommend using our Rust Resistant Stainless Steel Mason Jar Rings as fermented foods can sometime rust or corrode the regular steel rings.
Bread & Butter Sour Pickles - Variation
This is a variation on the recipe above. I love bread and butter pickles on sandwiches! I also find them to be a little more complex in flavor and I like to mix things up and alternate making a batch of these with my dill sour pickles.
Variation to the recipe:
In addition to everything I've said for the Dill Sour Pickle Recipe above, I give my sour pickles a bread and butter pickle twist by adding (to taste):
- Organic Turmeric Powder
- Organic Raw Cane Sugar
- Organic Yellow Mustard Seed
Again, check on these daily, smell and taste them, to know when they have reached your desired level of fermentation.
Tips for Crunchy Pickles
There are some ways to help your pickles keep their crunch and avoid the mushy pickle experience. Adding tannins keeps them crunchy. You can use, grape leaves, oak leaves, horse radish leaves and bay leaves to help keep that crunch. Sometimes I will take a couple fresh grape leaves off the vine or horse radish leaves from the garden and press them over the top of my cucumbers and cover it all with the brine (making sure there is no air trapped under the leaves), the leaves help to keep my other ingredients bellow the brine away from oxygen while also keeping the crunch.
Some folks also say that removing the end of the cucumber where the flower was, to not the stem but the opposite end, will help keep them crunchy longer. I haven't noticed this to make a huge difference but it certainly doesn't hurt to try it!
I hope you find this helpful and inspiring!
We love to hear from you! Please tag us on Instagram with photos of your sour pickles and we will send you a 10% off coupon code for our website. Always feel free to contact us with questions as well!! Happy fermenting!!
Troubleshooting Sour Pickles
The only issue I have had with this fermentation is that sometimes I get distracted and let them go for too long, they get to a level of fermentation that is, lets say, "off putting", you smell it and it makes your stomach turn rather than stimulate your saliva glands. Listen to your body, if it doesn't smell good to your stomach, don't eat it.
Usually this fermentation happens so quickly I don't get issues with the white bloom that can sometimes appear on fermented foods. This is a thin layer of white that is NOT "furry" and is only white in color. Usually this is an okay bloom, you just scoop it off with a spoon and your pickles are still good to eat. If you ever see any "furry" molds, you know the ones, they grow on forgotten food in the fridge, this sort of thing, your pickles should go in the compost.