Sour Fermented Pickles (in half gallon jar)

I have made quick pickles before, in my mind that means they use vinegar.  Since last summer I've wanted to try fermented pickles- i.e. the old school type that used to be the only kind of pickle!

I guess in the old times people didn't use vinegar to pickle stuff, they relied on the fermentation process. Long scared by fermentation, I've been feeling more brave lately now that we successfully brew kombucha tea. So what's another crazy jar of fermenting stuff? And fermented pickles are supposed to be good for you with probiotics.

I scaled down this recipe by half and used a grape leaf instead of horseradish (another canning/pickling book mentioned grape leaves).  I didn't have any fresh dill (darn!) so I used some dry dill. However it floated up to the top so next time I want to use fresh dill that I can wedge into the bottom of the jar better.

Layer into a clean half gallon glass jar:
half gallon of pickling cukes, washed thoroughly and both ends chopped off
2 TB pickling spice
1 TB dried dill (or substitute 1-2 fresh dill seed heads)
3 cloves garlic (peeled)
optional: 2 grape or horseradish leaves (I've read this is supposed to keep them crunchy?)

Pour filtered cool water into a quart jar. Add 2.5 to 3 TB sea salt, lid and shake to dissolve.

Pour this brine water over the cucumbers in the large jar.  Make sure the pickles are wedged into the jar so they are under the level of the brine.

Cover with a paper towel and rubber band. Label the jar with today's date. Place in cool location.

Scoop the scum off every other day- mine got loaded up wtih the dried dill. I suppose that's why fresh dill fronds are better.

At 5 days, check a pickle. The brine in my jar looked a little disconcertingly opaque, greenish algea cast. But never fear, I think that's ok!

Pull one pickle out and cut it open.  If there are still white spots (see photo) that means it needs more time. I think you want the whole pickle to look like the less opaque green spots:

At the 8 day mark, my pickles were done. The top of the jar looked a little scary (see photo at right)- I can't tell if this was mold or the intended bacterial strains? In any case, I scooped it up with a spoon and threw it out.

Then I topped off the jar with some more filtered water, put a lid on it and put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.

Bottom line: resulted in  really nicely flavored pickles with a good crunchy texture- not at all soggy like vinegared/cooked pickles.

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