The kids and I decided that we wanted to learn how to make a version of our famous Bread and Butter Pickles without vinegar, i.e. by fermenting them in crocks or jars. Pickling crocks are rather exorbitantly priced, so we decided to make pickles in wide-mouth mason jars. After a little research, we decided that we would turn this into an experiment: will cucumber pickles fermented in a mason jar with an airlock [ie perfect pickler, kraut source, DIY ] taste any different or fare any better or worse than pickles fermented in mason jars with traditional lids which are “burped” [slightly opened] every few days?
Since the weather has been cool and breezy and promises to remain so for a good week, we decided to start our experiment last Monday.
Here’s the basic recipe we cobbled together for our super yummy pickles..
Sweet and Spicy Fermented Pickles
- 2 tbs sea salt
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 1/8 c honey
- 1/8 c maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dill seeds
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic
- 2 small sprigs fresh dill [optional]
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups 1/4-in sliced cucumbers [about 5 to 6 small]
- 3 to 4 additional small cucumbers sliced length-wise into 1/8-in strips for strapping
- 1/2 c diced onion
- Soak cucumber slices and straps in ice water for 60 minutes and drain
- In a separate container filled with 2 cups of filtered water, whisk 2 tablespoons of sea salt until dissolved
- Add honey and maple syrup and whisk until dissolved
- To each empty sterilized jar, add 1/4 tsp of each of the dried spices
- To each jar, add 1 to 2 garlic cloves and a small sprig fresh dill
- To each jar, add 1/4 c diced onion
- To each jar, add drained sliced cucumbers to about 1/4-in below lowest lip or shoulders of the jar - about 1 1/2 c per 500 ml jar
- Slide 1 to 2 bay leaves down the side of each jar
- To each mason jar, strap 2 to 6 cucumber straps over the top of the cucumbers and down the sides of the jar in an x pattern
- Pack cukes down hard, so that they remain below the lowest lip or shoulders of the jar.
- To the mason jars with an airlock, press the small metal cup provided into the cucumber mixture to further pack down the cucumbers.
- To mason jars without an airlock, you may add a pickling weight. [We press a small ceramic soy sauce bowl face up into brine.]
- Fill the mason jars with the whisked brine [about 1 c] to only just a 1/4-in below the top of each jar.
- Seal mason jars with lids and rings or with an airlock-fitted lid [as instructed].
- Set filled jars in a cool dark place [about 21-23 degrees Celcius would be perfect.]
- Every 1 to 2 days, "burp" the non-airlocked jars by opening the lid slightly and letting air escape for a few moments before re-sealing. [It gets fizzy in there!]
- Let the jars sit for 5 to 10 days until pickles reach the desired tang.
- Remove airlock lid [if using] and replace with mason jar lid of choice.