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How to Make a “Mean” Pickle

Clifford Cohen
Prep Time 2 hrs
Fermenting Time 10 d
Total Time 10 d 2 hrs
Course Side Dish
Servings 36 pickles

Equipment

  • Ceramic Fermenting Crock
  • Large Colander
  • Large Stainless Steel Bowl
  • 8-Cup Measuring Cup
  • Kitchen Food Scale

Ingredients
  

Brine - 7 grams of salt to 1 cup water

  • 24 cups water
  • 168 grams salt

Vegetables

  • 36 Organic pickling cucumbers medium to large in size

Flavoring Ingredients (All Organic)

  • 4 bulbs garlic cloves peeled
  • 6 bunches fresh dill
  • whole coriander seeds
  • whole peppercorns
  • whole yellow mustard seed
  • bay leaves

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • Rinse the pickling cucumbers (normal cukes never work); remove the flower end of each cucumber and place them in an ice-water (or cold water) bath, to crisp them up (10-20 minutes). Leave them completely whole (there should be no way that air or liquid can reach the inside of the cuke).
  • Wash plenty of fresh dill, cutting away the heavy stalks but leaving the finer stalks and fronds.
  • Make the brine: On the food scale, weigh 7 grams of non-iodized sea salt for each cup of fresh spring water. Important: do not use water that might be chlorinated or otherwise processed (unfiltered tap water will NOT work). Start with 56 grams of salt for the 8 cups water in the measuring cup. Mix well so that the salt is completely dissolved. (Note: You will likely need to do this 2 - 3 times to fill the 2-1/2 gallon crock with brine (see below)).
  • Make the spices: I recommend using whole organic peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds. I avoid any spice that is powdered, ground, or otherwise not whole. I never measure the spices out, but use about equal parts of each. I make a large amount of the mixed spices, storing whatever I don’t use for the next ferment. The important thing is that there be enough of the mixture to be reasonably generous when adding to the crock.

Layer Ingredients and Initiate Fermentation

  • Place a bed of dill along the bottom of the crock.
  • Sprinkle the mixed spices on top of the dill.
  • Sprinkle the fresh garlic on top of the dill and mixed spices.
  • Place the cucumbers flat on top of the above.
  • Place dry bay leaves on top of the cucumbers in the below pattern, so that all cucumbers are touching at least one bay leaf.
  • Repeat the above process until the last layer of bay leaves is at the top of the crock, leaving two inches for the weights and a little air.
    Place the weights on top of the pickles and pour in the brine (making more as needed) to cover to about a 1/4 inch above the weights. Place the lid on the crock.
  • Let the crock sit for a couple of hours.
  • Place the crock in a “coolish” place where the ambient temperature is consistently not too warm or cool (~ between 65 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Fill the lip of the crock with some water to create the seal and check the water level every day; add water if/as necessary. If the water should suddenly disappear, this is natural and not a problem - the fermentation causes gas pressure fluctuations that will cause the water level to “breathe”. When no water is showing, simply add water (not too much) to maintain a clear, but minimal seal. The reason for this is that when the gas pressure changes, the water that was drawn into the inside of the lip of the crock will be pushed back out.

Decanting & Straining

  • After 2 weeks the pickles will be ready. Decant the crock as follows:
  • Place a fine mesh strainer inside of a large stainless steel bowl. Place aside.
  • Remove the pickles from the crock, pushing aside the dill, garlic, and spices.
  • Pour the entire brine contents into the strainer to catch the dill, garlic, and spices. Retain the brine (pickle juice) that is in the bowl and discard (or compost) the dill, garlic, and spices.
  • Place the pickles, along with all of the brine, in a large glass mason jar and refrigerate from then on.
  • Finished pickles

Notes

The pickles will keep for months, but will likely last for only a few days, as they truly are delicious. I make my pickles in kosher dishes and use only kosher ingredients. Kosher, naturally fermented pickles without additives are very difficult to find/purchase, so this healthful food is even more of a treat for those keeping kosher. As noted earlier, the brine is very nutritious as well and I suggest keeping it. It turns out that pickle brine is quite the tonic. I drink small amounts of it all the time. As these are naturally fermented pickles, the brine is full of lactobacillus. Here is a very short article about pickle brine from WebMD, which talks about the pros and cons related to using it.
The brine will be cloudy when shaken, and have two layers when settled—this is good and the way nature intended! Please feel free to watch the accompanying video, which will cover every detail of the process. Enjoy!
Keyword Fermented Vegetables, Kosher, Pickles