Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tips for Crunchy Lacto-fermented Dill Pickles

Vinegar-brined pickles are one of the most popular and well-known preserved vegetables. They are super acidic, tangy, sometimes spicy, and definitely crunchy. However, they are missing one thing that you'll get with fermented pickles: probiotics!
To enjoy all the benefits of fermented pickles and still retain that special crunch, there are a few extra steps to take, to avoid a jar of mushy pickles.

Keeping Cucumbers Crunchy During Fermentation

  • Add a tannin-containing agent to your pickling jars. Black tea leaves, oak leaves, grape leaves, or horseradish leaves all work well. Add a few larger leaves or a good teaspoon or so of loose tea or a teabag to a half-gallon jar.  (I use horseradish because it gives a nice tang to the pickles)
  • Ferment at the coolest temperature you can achieve. A fast, hot fermentation can result in a less-than-stellar crunch to a pickle..
  • Try small whole cucumbers first. They tend to retain their crunch better than a chopped-up larger cucumber. 
  • Remove the blossom end. The end of the cucumber contains enzymes that soften pickles. Use a knife to remove a thin slice from the end, to preserve the firm texture.

  • Puncture the skin. If the cucumber is harvested a bit later in the year or has been on the vine a little longer, it will develop a thicker skin. Use a skewer or paring knife to prick a hole in each cucumber. The brine can penetrate faster and the cucumbers will culture more evenly.