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Sour Pickles and Sauerkraut

My first round of fermented vegetables is finishing up in a few days, so I thought I would share how I put them together.  I've talked about fermenting vegetable in brief before, but I figured it was time to give a little more detailed instructions.

Freshly mixed sour pickles.
Sour Pickles

Place cucumbers in your crock, large jar, or whatever non-reactive vessel you plan to use.  Add a head or three of dill, a T. of mustard seed, a T. of celery seed (or whatever other pickle seasonings you like), 3-5 cloves of garlic (or more if you like), and, if you like them spice, a few dried chilies or flaked chili pepper.

In another bowl mix 2 quarts of water with 2 T. kosher or sea salt (or more- you can't really have too much salt, but you can have too little- as a general rule, use more salt when it's warm and less salt when it's cool).  Pour brine over your cukes.  Mix more brine at the same proportion if needed to cover all contents of your vessel.  Using more brine (same proportions) fill a *gallon zipper bag to weigh down your pickles.  Then cover the whole thing with a plate or a towel or something to keep the flies out.

Pickles after a few days of fermenting, bubbling away.
Place the crock in an out of the way, relatively cool place out of direct sunlight.  In 10-14 days (give or take, depending on the amount of salt you use, the temp, etc) taste a pickle to see if it is sour enough, and cut through the middle to assure it is pickled through.  If they are done, place them either directly into the fridge in the fermenting container, transfer to smaller jars (with the brine!) and refrigerate, or move the vessel to your root cellar or other cool place.

These keep for months.  We were still eating sour pickles that I made last summer in May.

*I realize a plastic bag isn't ideal, but I haven't been able to come up with a suitable alternative.  All the plates I have are either too big or way too small.  If you have any other suggestions, please share!
Cabbage getting ready to become sauerkraut.
Basic Sauerkraut

Shred your cabbage as if you were making coleslaw.  Weigh the amount of cabbage you plan to use, as you want to use about 1 T. of salt per pound.  If you don't have a scale, you can generally assume a regular sized head of cabbage weighs between 2 and 3 lbs.  Again, more salt is better than less.

The best vessels for this application is a small crock or large wide mouth mason jar.  Add a few handfuls of cabbage to your vessel of choice, toss with some of your salt, and press the mixture down HARD into the bottom of the jar.  I mean pack it in.  Then add more cabbage, toss with more salt, pack some more... repeat until your cabbage is all pressed in.  By this time the cabbage should be giving off it's liquid.  Give it a few more good pushes, then weigh it down with a plate or whatever weighted down with a jar of water.  If there is already enough brine to keep the cabbage submerged, great.  If not, give it a little while then come back and push down on it some more, forcing more liquid out.  If, after 24 hours, there isn't enough liquid to cover the sauerkraut well (like well above the level of the veg, it has to be completely submerged or it will mold) mix a little brine (salty water, anything from 1 T. salt per 1.5 cups to 1 T. of salt per quart... use your own judgement) and pour it over the cabbage.

Cover the crock with a towel to keep the bugs out, and set in a cool place for 10-14 days, then taste.  When done to your taste, move the the fridge (either in jars or in the fermenting container).

I kept my sauerkraut in airtight canning jars in our basement fridge over the winter, and the sauerkraut I made last August has kept a year- I have a jar left, and it's still good.  In fact, we had a bout with ecoli recently and I credit my sauerkraut, which I ate directly out of the jar while I was sick, with the mildness of my symptoms compared to everyone else who had it.

The ingredients for Curtido.
 I also have small crocks of curtido, a South American ferment, and kimchi, a Korean ferment, both similar to sauerkraut.

Check out GNOWFGLINS seasonal produce roundup for more ways to fix your cucumbers!


webbsway said...

Thank you so very much for your experiences.

If you have any other suggestions, please share!
Maybe have a friend cut you a wood circle . I did that one time when I was making cheese.

I REALLY enjoy your blog and am so glad that I found you! : )

pathsofwrighteousness said...

Thank you! I need to try this since I have abundant cucumbers.

Heidi said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am a newbie to making pickles and sauerkraut, but I love to eat them so the information you provided will really help me.

Anna said...

What size crock are you using in this post? Just wanting to get an idea as far as the size of the cukes you are using. I'm trying to figure out if it would work better for me to cut mine up. They're not huge, but they're not small either.

My sister-in-law, Kim (ladybirk), introduced me to your blog and I am so enjoying it. This is totally my kind of thing! I just ordered Wild Fermentation at your suggestion and I can hardly wait for it to get here.

Brandislee said...

Anna- Glad to have you! I love Kimberly, her and I are kindred spirits:) She told me a little about you and your farm, it sounds pretty great... similar to what I would like to have some day.

The crock in the picture is either a 2 gallon or a 3 gallon... more like 3 gallon. I use both for pickles, although this summer the 3 gallon got used the most for pickles while the 2 gallon was used for sauerkraut. I don't usually cut my cukes- if they're too big, they're probably too big to be good pickles. But I grow almost exclusively the perfect pickler variety of cukes, which don't get really big unless you truly neglect them:) I LOVE Wild Fermentation- it has taught me so much, and there is something in it for everyone. Good luck!

Laura @ Laura Williams Musings said...

Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings

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