FERMENTED PICKLES V: ENDGAME

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Tran Bronstein
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FERMENTED PICKLES V: ENDGAME

#1 Post by Tran Bronstein » August 11th, 2019, 7:59 pm

Hello Foodies,

It's been a while since I've made a batch of fermented pickles and since then I've increased my knowledge substantially on fermentation and preservation and so I set out to make a new batch. There's a couple of major changes to the formula which I've listed below. Let's get into it:

FERMENTED PICKLES

For a metric 2 Liter/Imperial 2 quart Mason lid jar

* Pickling cucumbers, okra, baby carrots, daikon radish, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, bok choy and any other hard vegetables you care to pickle; enough to fill the jar to the brim
* 4 large garlic cloves
* 1/2 Thai chili pepper
* 1 TBSP pickling spice

FOR THE PICKLING BRINE

* 1 quart bottled spring or distilled water
* 1 TBSP pickling salt
* 1/4 tsp calcium chloride (you may know this as Pickle Crisp)
* 1 TBSP unfiltered vinegar to aid fermentation (preferably homemade if you have)

20190811_132748.jpg
Fermenting Mason jars.

Pour the pickling spices, thai chili and garlic cloves in the bottom of a clean 2 quart Mason lid jar. Stuff in as many vegetables as needed to fill to the brim of the jar. Mix the brine together in a large Pyrex measuring cup. Pour over the vegetables until you reach the very top of the jar's brim. If there was not enough liquid to do so, make another batch of brine in the measuring cup and fill again until topped off. Don't throw away the leftover brine, you're going to need it for some topping up later. Store it away in the fridge until needed.

Place the jars in a warm but dry spot to ferment. Place the jars on either a cookie sheet or clean winter boot tray to prevent brine from spilling out onto whatever surface you've put them on and make clean up easier. Very important: DO NOT SEAL THE JARS. Put the flat lid on loosely followed by the jar ring but don't turn it. Carbon dioxide will build up as a result of the fermentation and has to be released. It can't be if you seal the jar lids. In fact, as I found out on one of the jars which I had accidentally sealed without realizing it, with nowhere to go the carbon dioxide released will reverse back into the jar and essentially pulverize your pickles into a gloopy mess within the jar.

Check the jars once or twice every day by lifting the loose jar ring and then the flat lid off the jar to check on their progress. This allows you to release any trapped CO2 you can't see as well as see how your pickles are doing. You'll gradually see the brine and veggies change color as well as some CO2 bubbles and white scum floating on the top. That scum are dead natural yeast cells that have done their work and are completely harmless if unattractive. You can either spoon it off or just mix it back into the brine by sealing the jar and giving it a shake or two and then loosening it again. Note that this is quite different from either mold or slime. If you see either of those, the batch has gone bad and should be discarded immediately for food safety reasons. One of the reasons you may wish to discard the yeast anyway is that it actually prevent you from seeing harmful mold or slime. With that said, if you see the good white stuff, chances are you won't see any bad stuff later on. The choice to keep or discard away is yours.

20190811_132908.jpg
White scum aka natural dead yeast cells. There is no harm to these at all. Keep or discard as you desire.

You may recall that previously I never used Mason jars for pickling, I used full size glass crocks for the actual pickling and then stored them away in the Mason jars. I decided to try pickling in both this time to see if it would make any difference. To be honest, it doesn't really as far as I can tell, at least not to the final product. I top the open glass crock with a small teacup saucer weighed down by a Pyrex bowl as I usually do.

20190811_132734.jpg
Fermenting Mason jars and full glass crock. Notice the loose lids on the jars.

For a full sour batch of pickles, do a ferment for a full 2 weeks. For half sours, do just a 1 week ferment. You can see the difference in the results below as the brine has not fully penetrated the pickle on the right. I actually did two batches a week apart as the first finished batch is now properly stored in my refrigerator so I could show you all the difference:

20190811_132947.jpg
Finished pickles: 2 weeks full ferment on the left, 1 week ferment on the right for half sours

There are a couple of major changes to my pickling brine formula. The first is the addition of a small amount of calcium chloride aka Pickle Crisp to firm up the pickles and preserve their crispness. The second is the use of a very small addition of unfiltered vinegar to give the pickles a head start with some naturally beneficial fermenting bacteria. You'll recall that I previously used the leftover brine from a previous batch of pickles as a starter for the next batch. I decided this time to start with clean fresh brine instead and used the vinegar as a starter instead. The 1 TBSP is not enough to affect the flavor of the finished product and that is in fact not the point, it's just to get some beneficial bacteria in there.

I'm pretty happy with the end result this time around and am definitely sticking with the new formula for my pickling brine. There's just so much benefit to the addition of the vinegar as a starter and the calcium chloride to the final product. Hope you guys have all started your pickling projects as all the veggies you need are now in bloom.
Tran's the smart one!- M Grammer

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Nola Palomar
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Re: FERMENTED PICKLES V: ENDGAME

#2 Post by Nola Palomar » August 11th, 2019, 8:38 pm

I have a clay pickling crock, I should make a batch. I want to do kraut too this fall.

Btw I just reread that funny spouse swap thread from a few years back, it brought me back to a happy time (like most of my Juan memories). Such a funny thread!!
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Tran Bronstein
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Re: FERMENTED PICKLES V: ENDGAME

#3 Post by Tran Bronstein » August 11th, 2019, 10:13 pm

Nola Palomar wrote:
August 11th, 2019, 8:38 pm
I have a clay pickling crock, I should make a batch. I want to do kraut too this fall.

Btw I just reread that funny spouse swap thread from a few years back, it brought me back to a happy time (like most of my Juan memories). Such a funny thread!!
Hi Nola. You should definitely make a batch. Glad I brought you back a happy memory. Hugs.
Tran's the smart one!- M Grammer

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