Fermented sweet banana pepper rings are one of my favorite condiments and sometimes the store bought ones are nothing but a travesty gaining sales only due to their name.
This recipe we are attempting to reach a “bread and Butter” flavor in our sweet banana peppers using lacto fermenting as a preserving and flavoring method. The lacto fermenting process will give the finished product it’s tang without using vinegar and will allow storing without further processing.
Easy and tasty condiment that can be made a little at a time.
Author: Mike and Sheila
Recipe type: Fermented condiment
Serves: 1 quart
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ground allspice
⅛ tsp. ground mustard
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
1 tablespoon pickling salt
12 dried stevia leaves.
15 nice 5-6" banana peppers [a few were large hot peppers I am sure 🙂
Choose a slice for your peppers according to preference. We use "rings" in this recipe.
Firmly pack peppers into the quart jar leaving 1" head space
Add spices and then top with salt and leaves.
Add your weight and then add water to cover.
Place an airlock lid securely on the jar and place on the counter until taste is where you want it according to tanginess.
This is an ideal use for small amounts of peppers from your garden. Using the mason jar systems lets you fine tune your recipe without having a large amount of "not so right" results that accompany our learning process. If you fail you can also dehydrate and still retain the probiotic and vitamin goodness of the fermenting process.
We as always recommend the Pickle*Pusher fermenting “weight” to hold down your contents while fermenting. No other system can do what this uniquely designed fermenting aid can do!
Sweet banana peppers often find themselves turned into tangy fermented pepper snacks
Making fermented sweet banana pepper rings
You can use slices or even whole peppers. It all depends on your taste.
It is pretty easy to see why the Pickle*Pusher can hold your ferments under the protecting brine thusly lowering the risk of mold
Pickle*Pusher installed in it's "sweet spot"
The Pickle*Pusher fermenting system in place and ready to hold anything under the brine
A simple recipe for home made fermented sauerkraut with a pineapple flavor. Using the small batch methods , one can whip up many flavors at one time and be able to sort out the recipes they enjoy most. Easy to change to suit anyone's taste!
Author: Mike and Sheila
Recipe type: Fermented
Serves: 3 quarts
1 20 ounce can of preservative free pineapple [drained]
2 medium heads of cabbage
caraway seeds to taste
ground cloves to taste
nutmeg to taste
1 tablespoon UN-iodized salt per 2 pound sliced cabbage [we use a fine grind. If using coarser grind use a little more]
Slice your cabbage to desired thickness. The larger the shred , the longer it will take to ferment to desired taste.
Add 1 tablespoon salt to each 1.8 pounds cabbage [this will allow salt for the pineapple when added later].
Massage the cabbage and salt until it is showing about 2 ounces of liquid from every 1.8 pound used.
When desired brine liquid has appeared, add the pineapple and mix well.
Divide the cabbage mixture into 2 pound batches and add your desired seasoning. We made a caraway batch, a nutmeg/clove batch and used the larger leftover pieces from the slicer to make a mix of both to use in stir frys!
Mix spices and pack firmly into the jars. Fill to just below the jar throat and place your weight on top of the packed cabbage.
Top with left over brine. Sprinkle a little extra salt on top of your brine for a little extra protection against unwanted molds and we recommend using a tight lid and airlock.
Place on counter [ place in shallow plate or container to catch any overflow from the active fermenting process ] out of direct sunlight in a temperature of 68-78 deg F for 10 days before checking flavors. We leave ours for a minimum of 3 weeks.
Keep an eye out for overflow and open only when you suspect there could be a problem developing due to color change etc.
Please read our other articles on home fermenting. There is not a thing as "Set it and forget it" You should take the time to learn the fermenting procedure and signs to look for as your ferment progresses.
Sauerkraut is such a variable food. It is not just the type eaten on the hot dog anymore. Ok, “anymore” is not a good word here. There has always been specialty krauts but have been hidden from us and usually only available in ethnic markets and restaurants.
Today we will try some different flavors and see how they turn out. Sauerkraut is easy to make at home and very economical as well.
We sliced the cabbage and the larger pieces that were unsafe to continue running thru our slicer were used to make a blend suitable for a stir fry.
This turned out simply awesome! We would never have tried this in the old days but am very thankful for Holly for showing us the way! Simply awesome! It is now a regular here in our home.
In an effort to cut cost and calories we decided to try the latest rage called Kombucha which is a fermented bubbly drink full of probiotics and flavor
Kombucha : Nature’s soft drink
Anyway, I decided to get with the program and and ordered a Kombucha SCOBY. SCOBY is the acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Which is really what it looks like in my mind’s eye.. a blob of what looked like of watered down silly putty or chicken fat or something along those line. Anyway, “I wanted me some” as we say in the country. 🙂 Just so I did not hurt the feelings of anyone in my numerous social groups. I ordered generically from Amazon.
Today the Kombucha SCOBY arrived!
It was packed pretty nice I guess as it was liquid and could flex but would have felt better having it in a box instead of a mailing envelope but is is here and I will start a jug ASAP. I am not sure which but I think I will ask Danny Cote, a friend from Fermenters Kitchen who I fear will turn into a fermented product one day. He is really into fermenting and a pretty good person to have around if you want information and personal experience on a fermenting issue.
Well for the first time ever in months Danny was no where to be found 🙂 But kombucha is so easy to make. I googled a quick recipe and got it seconded by the gang at Fermenters Kitchen and within 30 minutes I had a 1/2 gallon batch started.
Recipe that was google gathered and crowd approved is as follows:
1/2 gallon mason jar
1 cloth cover
1 metal ring
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 quarts of hot water
9 lipton single serving tea bags
1 stirring tool from Sheila’s kitchen
Directions: Add teabags to water and sugar and mix. Let sit aside until room temperature or half past lukewarm towards room temperature.
When I unleashed SCOBY from his postal confines I was impressed and surprised how hard he actually was. I was expecting something very much more delicate. He was almost the texture of bologna actually! The liquid he arrived with smelled a lot like vinager and you could also taste the tea and a little sweetness. I dumped him into the prepared jar much like you would a storebought goldfish and he went straight to the bottom much like that aforementioned store bought goldfish! OH DAM! Back to the group I flew like a whistle…. [a little left over Christmas poetry] and after a few seconds, was totally convinced his plunge was normal and nothing to fear! 🙂
At any rate it took maybe 5 minutes actual hands om time to start a 1/2 gallon of this kombucha miracle juice. I am also going to try it with coffee to and there is a name for it but dammed if I can remember it right now. It'll spring out at me when I'm
m in the middle of another conversation and will add to the rumor that I may be a tad crazy. Don'tcha just hate when that happens? Anyway if this works out like I hope, I will have no need for cokes as this kombucha is supposed to have a lot of natural carbonation and a mean without a little gas just isn't a meal. .
All there was left to do after making sure Scoby Jr was ok , was to cover the top of the jar with a porous cloth as this is really a regular wine or beer fermentation for the first fermentation and the second [they call it the 2F] is a traditional lacto ferment as you use an airlock or cork the bottles after adding fruit and stuff. I forgot to tell yall that .. sorry! And with that thought I moved stuff around on the desk and put him in a little warmer place where I could keep an eye on him.
1/2 cup per 2 quarts water
Remember to take the tags from teabags
SCOBY Jr sank!
SCOBY has arrived!
Commencing first batch.
2 quarts water, 1/2 cup sugar
Take the tags of the teabags first! duh!
Stir well and steep as long as needed. I want strong taste
Jr in his shipping cage
OK how does this help me save money?????
Ok here is the idea. First I like soft drinks. I quit using sugar in my coffee and my tea about 8 months ago. I was just getting to fat. I never thought I got or was going to be fat but I did. Mainly my stomach. It stopped my breathe when tying my shoes. I am sure some of it is age and inactivity. I had a rough and hard but healthy mid adult life. Last 10-15 years have been a walk in the park and I am paying the price.
And……………. back to the story:
A case of cheaply made imitation cokes cost about $5 a case. If I was already buying my kombucha, I would be saving about $2 a bottle by making it at home.
In this 1/2 gallon I have :
1/2 cup sugar @ $0.15
9 tea Lipton single size teabags @ $.50 total
1/2 gallon water
$10.00 for Scoby delivered to my door
SCOBY’s grow and most regular Kombucha drinkers will gladly share a small one for a newb… I just did not think any of the fellas I hang with would drink it. In the last 2 days 3 have “fessed” up and said they drink it …… Coulda saved me a few bucks grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr 😉
2-6-16 1800 Nothing! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
2-8-16 0101 Small white dots not like mold. The remind me
of jellyfish on surface! LIFE!!!!!!! HE LIVES!
2-9-16 1900 Jr is rising from the bottom and definitely is life forming on the surface! Looks very much like jellyfish ;) Smell is a little like vinegary tea but did not taste as it wold maybe make the scoby not grow.
2-11-16 2200 Jr is rising from the bottom and definitely is life forming on the surface! Looks very much like jellyfish ;) Smell is a little like vinegary tea but did not taste as it wold maybe make the scoby not grow.
Photo update for 2-11-2016 @ 1900
2-9-16 coming alive on bottom
2-9-16 starting to see life. Looks like jelly fish
Just a sign of life 2-9-16
He is rising from the bottom! 2-11-16
2-11-16 almost a full grown scoby
2-11-16 He looks good!
2-11-16 scoby definitely growing! almost all the way across jar!
3-17-16 Have now made a few batchs and am more concerned in growing a solid scoby more so than actually making finished kombucha. I need to find a good F2 recipe as mine is not fizzy. I may have let it go to long as it is pretty vinegary.
We are drinking kombucha regular and the scoby is getting rather large. I do have a few question that I will research for those who stumble across this blog.
1] Should I occasionally wet the top of the scoby by pushing it under the developing kombucha to [in my mind] help prevent mold?
2] How do I create more “fizz” in my finished kombucha?
Fermented salsa is so quick and easy to prepare in your own kitchen. A great family project and introduction to fermenting. This will produce a naturally acidic and tangy condiment, rich in living probiotics! Also enhanced vitamin content that vinegar based salsa does not have! You can chop, dice or process the ingredients to suit your own taste keeping in mind that less chopping allows more individual taste sensations to reach your taste receptors with each chew 🙂 We personally increase the bell pepper content over the tomato content and it gives a really unique taste to anything we add it too!
In the picture above you will notice a lime-green thingie in one of the jars. It is called a "Pickle*Pusher". It is a fermenting device designed to hold even the hardest to hold veggies under the brine! Notice the other jar has formed a "plug" of salsa and will effectivelly plug your airlock and no allow CO2 to release!
A quick and easy fermented salsa that will inspire you to dwell deeper into the craft of home fermenting
Author: Mike and Sheila
Recipe type: fermented
Serves: 1 quart
1 medium onion
3 small roma tomatoes
1 bell pepper [ we like adding up to 60% peppers! ]
jalapeno or other hot peppers to taste
1 tablespoon canning salt
¼ cup cilantro, parsley or celery tops
garlic to taste
] Cut chop or dice all the ingredients
] Mix well and add salt
] Pack in jar leaving 1" head space , [this will leave room for your weight ]
] Cover your weight with water, This is most important when fermenting to keep molds from ruining your ferment!
] Add your airlock and set aside on counter top for 3-5 days. When the taste is tart enough for you ...... Eat and enjoy 😉 NOTE: Ferment at 65-75 Degree F for best results. Placing a catch pan under your jar will avoid a possible mess in case of overflow of brine caused by CO2 production which is natural with home fermenting.
This ferment is very loose in it's consistency! And therefore very hard to hold under the brine when fermenting. Using the Pickle*Pusher system, you will easily and consistently produce this flavorful condiment in your kitchen. In the photo here you will see that the Pickle*Pusher allows only brine to be on the surface!
For more recipes like this try MakeSauerKraut.com where Miss Holly actively teaches fermenting and has recipes that will surely tantalize your taste buds ! It is also healthy as it is full of added vitamins and probiotics you can not get from store bought!
Sheila used homegrown Stevia leaves in a recent batch and the result was a really pleasant salsa with sweet highlights which is hard to acheive in a ferment as the process reduces sugars. Stevia is not a sugar and the “sweet” taste survives the fermenting process intact!
We are making kefir and like most people who start this practice, we soon realized that we had a surplus of kefir accumulating. One use for this surplus is to freeze in ice cube trays and run thru a blender as an improv ice cream. This is great but could destroy the probiotic goodness I think. Personally I do not make fermented foods just for the probiotic goodness but I do it for the flavor as well. Remember that prebiotics are as important as probiotics and NEVER neglect or sacrifice flavor and feel that you need to eat just for health benefits!
Kefir pancakes are another great way to use up that extra kefir. Tart and tangy and will shame your traditional buttermilk pancake taste exponentially.
2 teaspoons baking soda or 2 tablespoons baking powder
NOTE: We had previously decided to make a no-baking soda or powder recipe and had seperated the eggs and fluffed the whites but at last moment decided to add the soda/powder but used same picture of the ingredients. Keep in mind this is not a recipe or cooking blog :)
Mix the water with the kefir until the consistency is that of milk. It may take more or less water to do this.
The goal is to have 1 3/4 cups of kefir and water mix in a milk like consistency. We are after flavor here!
Batter should be as thick as pancake batter and will vary depending on consistency of your kefir/water mix!
We followed the recipe from Colleen at Grow Forage Cook Ferment which is a great site for any of the topics that their title mentions.
We changed it a little for a few reasons…. Mainly we did not like the fish sauce and another we got confused between table and teaspoon on the mustard seed and we added water which was not called for due to the mixture just being to stiff for ketchup in our opinions 🙂
3 – 6 ounce cans tomato paste
1/4 cup brine for a live ferment or whey. [we used a salty brine from some recent dill pickles ]
3 tablespoons vinager 5% and here we used regular when Miss Colleen’s called for apple cider vinager.
1-2 tablespoons honey.. Our honey was granular and we used 2 tbs.
1 teaspoon garlic powder…. We used 1/2 teaspn garlic powder and equal amount of onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce… We didn’t add this and you should go to Colleen’s site for the original recipe.
We mixed it up and put in quart jar and will let ferment for 3-7 days
SPECIAL NOTE: The original recipe called for ACV [apple-cider vinegar ] for a reasons! If you use Bragg’s ACV, it is alive and not pasteurized which introduces live bacteria to your cooked/processed tomato paste! Would have sure helped to have known this before starting the recipe!
1 spoon mustard ground the old way made 1 spoon packed of powder!
3 6 ounce cans of cheap tomato paste
Even old school was not a problem! Surprised me , I thought you had to pound!
1/4 cup salty brine from fermented pickle's [live ferment ] or Whey
Mixed up and decided to add the 8 tablespoons of water extra! Time will tell
Made 600 ml and may need thinning later was well.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
1] Will the fermented ketchup be more red after fermenting? ANSWER: Not a lot
2] Will the fermented ketchup be more fluid after fermenting?ANSWER: Yes as we added a lot more liquid than the original recipe called for!
3] Will it taste as good as store-bought???ANSWER: Yes and no..it is after all a different recipe. Will it pass as ketchup? Definitely!
NOTE: AS WITH ALL FERMENTED FOODS WATCH CLOSELY FOR ANY MOLD DEVELOPING AS AN INDICATION OF POSSIBLE IMPENDING SPOILAGE.
Tune in later and we will let you know. If you try the recipe or Miss Colleen’s, let us know in the comment box below.
UPDATE: 2-21-2016: Added 4 more tablespoons of brine. We now have 700 ml in our jar. Still very thick and no sign of gassing . Another group member is doing same recipe and says her’s is doing about the same. The taste is developing but the fermentation is not as regular as a less dense fermenting project. MAY add 4 tablespoons of whey to see if we can get more action going but our brine was alive so it may just be the way a thick ferment acts? Like miso maybe but I do not want to wait 6 months for a coating for my fries 🙂
UPDATE: 2-23-2016: Added 4 tablespoons of kefir whey. We now have 800+ ml in our jar. Still very thick and no sign of gassing . The taste is developing but the fermentation is not evident. Actually 4 more tablespoons are on the way very soon as ketchup is still to thick to pour!
UPDATE: 2-27-2016: Added another 4 tablespoons of whey! We also were advised to add a latex glove to the jar to be able to tell if we were getting any volume of CO2 from the ferment! It was flacid for a while but finally with the help of a little heat from a lamp, it started growing! Our friend was also doing the recipe and had instant gassing on her’s! All we can figure is that the brine we used was not active as they were from older pickle ferment but not processed and the whey ….. well it should have worked we feel a little better. The tomato paste showed only tomato puree and citric acid as contents… NO PRESERVATIVES…. which we would have suspected of having a role in our slow ferment start. At any rate there is not spoilage and taste is great. Here is a short video before we remove the glove to check taste and replace to finish.
VIDEO HERE IN A WHILE…. STAY TUNED.
UPDATE: 2-27-2016: Results was a great tasting ketchup that would indeed be an addition to your table. We did learn a lot in making this recipe as we had another friend making it at the same time and compared results. She achieved faster fermentation activity than we did and this is critical when fermenting as getting the ferment up to the desired ph should be done as fast as possible. And I am sure the taste was close but we were not as she is in Netherlands!
WHAT WE LEARNED:
1] Tomato paste is not a fresh product and therefore has no naturally occurring lacto bacteria so it is important to use fresh fermented starter, brine from an active ferment you have going like kraut or pickles or as whey as last resort to achieve the initial kickstart towards fermenting!
2] The finished product has a little different “mouth feel” than processed ketchup. There is a more “grainy” feeling for lack of a better word. We did not use any emulsifier so that is to be expected. It is possible that we could have pulverized the mustard seed more.
3] Use Bragg’s Unfiltered ACV! It introduces bacteria into your tomato paste.
4] Add a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice when you start and when you open to taste. It will help prevent surface mold that can occur if your ferment is slow in starting!
5] All in all a nice and fun recipe that will make our next meal of french fries and hamburgers a lot more satisfying as the DIY spirit does really make things taste better and stimulates those good feelings 🙂
Ok… I finally … I mean just now………….. got to where I was able to get past the awful sounding name of “Yo-Gurt” and actually tasted it>
It is good! WOW Whoda thunk huh????
Anyway, I decided to get with the program and and ordered some milk kefir and kombucha. Just so I did not hurt anyone in my numerous social group’s feelings. I ordered generically from Amazon. I wanted the milk kefir for a yogurt extension / substitute and also because I had found a recipe for a cheesecake made with kefir cheese…………… OMG this could be it!
They are here!
The poor crystals or grains were in shipping mode for a week all total… 7 days! Good thing it was cooler temperatures. I would not have tried to get these in the summer. This is why it is important to be involved with some of the social groups like the ones on FaceBook which will share starters with you and possibly from a local area as well. I am in many and it is awesome the support you can get if you run up on a problem.
FYI: a kefir grain or crystal is a SCOBY.. Yes similar to kombucha scoby's and water kefir grains. A SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is a mix of bacteria and yeast which work together to maintain a suitable environment for themselves and a healthy food for you. They do this by changing the PH or acidity of the milk and thus discourage formation of bad bacteria and yeast.
The enclosed directions stated that the crystals may be dormant and suffering from shipping stress. I am to:
place them in 1-2 cups of fresh milk. and that it would “require 3-4 24 hour milk changes” before they work right. This can be any kind of mammal milk except “Ultra pasteurized”.
Cover them with a cloth and place them in a warm place
Every few hours shake them or stir them…….. [ will rig something up 😉 ]
After a time you should see some separation into curds and whey. This may not happen on the first few times. You can separate before separation for a sweeter kefir.
All in all the instructions need to be more specific. The people we bought from are an established dealer and we will contact for better instructions at a later date.
Strain the liquid and retrieve the crystals.
Cover the separated liquid with a solid or breathable cover.and set aside to complete fermentation. At this time you are doing what is called an “F2 ferment”. Here is where most people add fruits and flavoring and allow the batch to mature from 8-12 or more hours until the desired consistency or tartness/flavor is reached. Since this is not a recipe but a record of my first experience we will not go into detail.
Place the crystals into another 1-2 cups of milk and cover with breathable cover
This would be 1 “24 hour milk change”
Repeat this for at least 3 more times and the kefir should be perfect after 6-8 batches…. Again the instructions are vague.
Well here we go documenting our first batch of kefir!
After 8 hours: Grains are floating and the smell is mainly lacto with not a lot of yeasty smell like the grains had. At least is not the smell I was figuring it would have…. clabbered milk 😉
02-11-2016 @ 1800: Milk is sticking to the side of the glass ever so slightly. The grains are floating nicely and the odor still is not to yeasty but not bad. I will strain the grains and start again. I dumped the strained batch . This completes 1 24-hour cycle which was really 30 hours or so.
02-12-2016 @ 1800 : Really looking better now! No sour smell at all… only sweet yeast… Lots of floating grains also. BUT it looks funny like it could be kahm mold ????? Not even sure you can get that on kefir. Am asking gang at group. Will let it go another 12 hours before starting 3rd break-in. I also covered it from the light of the lamp. And it was 62-68 deg F during the ferment.
It turns out the "dusty" or "silky" appearance on top of the kefir is called "Flowers of Kefir" and normal....
02-13-2016 @ 1200: Total separation! Awesome. No sour smell.. It is yeasty and tastes ok. This is a high mark from someone who can not tolerate the taste and thought of buttermilk. I filtered the grains out and mixed another 1 cup whole milk to start break-in set # 3 and put the rest in airtight container for F2. QUESTION: Should I separate the whey before the F2 setup????????
This link is probably the most important link on the subject of Milk Kefir I have seen to date>>!>> I am just sorry i found it after this experiment grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
So basically do as many 24 hour milk replacements as you feel it takes to get a good solid 24 hour ferment and from there on just enjoy!
I am currently researching how to make the kefir cheese and also ricotta from the whey.
QUESTIONS AND TIPS:
I had a batch that failed in the F2 stage. This is where you strain the grains and add your sugar and fruit and then seal in un vented jar until it is thickened. They say do not let go to full separation but for me the taste is not bad enough to warrant watching the kefir grow :)
UPDATE: We now have our schedule going and frankly are having to find ways to use the kefir! Nightly we enjoy a glass and it is pretty cool as it is great for sipping. It helps stave off the munchies and satisfies one’s thirst as well. Great before bedtime drink. We added chocklate milk syrup to it for a good taste. Even froze some and ran through the blender with a little rum. NOTE: DO NOT use dry cocoa powder! It was just to bitter! Another favorite is mixing about 25% whole orange juice and this was great! We tried grinding a whole tangerine to the blender and I personally loved it but Sheila was a little less into the added pulp which surprised me as I do not like pulp either. It is funny that I do not consider the kefir as anything like buttermilk.. Of course it has been years since I tasted and defined buttermilk as nasty too because of the “chunks” 🙂 We will be adding a pancake recipe that we found as well. We rigged one up on our own and it was delicious but the cakes them selves were a little less fluffy than we wanted.
At any rate, if you are lactose intolerant you may want to experiment with kefir. It helped me to enjoy dairy once again and the result was immediate. I will add that I could eat ice cream and cheese so I may not have been that advanced in the intolerance scale either. But raw milk had me running for the toilet faster than a morning cup of coffee or even gas station sushi.
Here we offer a very general widely acceptable simple brine pickle recipe and method. This is probably the most common “gateway” into the fermenting world. It was for us! Feel free to add your own spices but keep in mind the brine percentage should remain the same if not a little stronger!
Enough fermenting containers to accommodate the amount of cucumbers you wish to turn into pickles!
Sharp knife and cutting board
Postal scale for measuring salt [yes you can convert grams into teaspoons but weighing is better]
Fresh and not overly mature pickling type cucumbers [you can use squash, zucchini and even watermelon rinds if you are a bit experienced]
Water. Preferably non chlorinated or fluoride treated. [see NOTE: below]
Spices. This post is intentionally vague with the ingredients! We have included some basic spices that is great for general purpose use
1/2 teaspoon dill dried or 3 heads of fresh dill per quart and or dill seed
2 small clove garlic per quart [most people add to much garlic!]
Add a few hot peppers for a little heat.
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
a few peppercorns
1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or horseradish leaves [these are sources of tannins which aid in keeping pickles crisp]
Non iodized salt 1 teaspoon per quart. [Iodized salt or salt with caking ingredients will effect your ferment]
∗Keep in mind this post shows more an introductory to the fermenting art more than a recipe. We will post some good recipe links below. Do the math when adding the called for spices and add that amount to each jar you are going to use.
STEP 1 Slicing and Dicing: Slice, dice, cut or leave whole the cucumbers you desire to ferment. Do a few jars of each style! Keep in mind tho that the different cuts will ferment at different speeds and may absorb spices differently as well!
NOTE: Setting aside regular tap water for 24 hours will allow chlorine to evaporate. Boiling for 10 minutes will also do this BUT will not remove floride treatments!
STEP 2 Preparation: Rinse the cucumbers only lightly. Do not scrub intensely. As this recipe does not call for a starter culture, we are relying on the bacteria present on the cucks. Cut the cucumbers into slices either long wise or across grain. If you want whole pickles, cut 1/4″ of the ends off. It is important to at least cut this from the blossom end as it contains hormones that can make the pickle soggy.
STEP 3 Packing and Salting: Pack your cucumbers in the jars tightly allowing for whatever weight system you are going to use. Add spices towards the bottom of the jar and the leaves towards the top. You can use a small spice bag to maintain better control of your spices and prevent them from migrating to the top of the brine and reduce chance of mold in doing so. At this time we will add our salt at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per quart. There is also a chart below for those who wish to simply cover their cucumbers with a brine of a certain percentage. As you can see the chart will result in a less salty pickle which may not suit everyone. As long as you do not go below the recommendations in the chart, you will be fine.
Ready for brine!
STEP 4 Closing: Place your weight onto the contents and pour the water or brine over the filled jars. If using a cabbage leaf you will have to also use a weight of some kind. Make sure to remove anything floating on the brine surface. These can attract molds and yeast hellbent on destroying your fermenting cucumbers! [SEE “Possible Problems” BELOW:] Some people do not use a weight. We advice to use one. This is a personal decision and one that you should make early in your fermenting career . On this site recommend you use the Pickle*Pusher which is based on the following problems and solutions : Fermentation problems and cures. Place the lid on the jar as firmly as the fermenting container’s instructions dictate. [SEE NOTE BELOW!] Contents will raise in the jar as the ferment develops and CO2 forms in the vegetables and their tissue. Some people place the jar in a small plate to contain any overflow in the early phases of fermentation. Put jar in a compatible area out of direct sunlight and wait. :);
NOTE: Again this is a choice that a starting out fermenter should make early in his career , whether to use an airlock system of not! With a crock, you simply set lid on crock. With a Fido you can simply close and with an airlock equipped jar you will tighten fully. With a regular kidded jar you will want to fasten lightly and be prepared to "burp" at regular intervals to prevent a possible explosion or other messy event :)
NOTE: Make sure your airlock is just clearing the inside of the grommet and allow 1/2" airspace from surface of contents to the airlock bottom.
STEP 5 Tending and Tasting: Start tasting once you notice the fermentation action has slowed down. This will happen faster in “chip” sliced cukes and slower in “whole dills”. There may be a “skim” on the surface. You will remove it and replace your lid. [SEE NOTE BELOW:] Constantly opening the container removes the CO2 blanket that the gasket and airlock have helped create and will allow outside contamination to enter. The older and more advanced the ferment is will lessen this from happening as the sugars are less and the acidity is raising towards the point where only lacto bacteria will be able to thrive.
NOTE: The pickles are cured when well-flavored and even in color. There should be no white spots and they will have a translucent appearance.
NOTE:In the event you do notice something developing in your ferment then by all means open and inspect.
Things to look for include floating “skum” on surface which is usually KAHM YEAST and can easily be removed by mopping the surface with a paper towel or clean rag. It is generally a dull “flat” [not shiny] buildup and white unless your brine is colored. It can grow in a rippled fashion and generally covers the whole surface compared to molds which concentrate on the bits of vegetation they anchor on to grow. Nothing to worry about as it is usually on the brine surface only. Left alone to grow it will cause an off flavor but not dangerous.
Other molds that can develop will result in mushy contents near surface and possibly proceeding into the contents. Molds generally grow on floating bits of fermenting foods. They will be colored, white, fuzzy or furry. If a foul odor or a sliminess is noticed it may be best to trash the ferment and reflect on what went wrong. Most of the time it is because YOU DID NOT KEEP THE CONTENTS UNDER THE BRINE! and can in most cases be easily rectified with a little common sense.
Once the ferment is to your liking you can replace your fermenting lid with a regular one and place the jars in the ice box where they will keep for an extended period of time. These ferments can develop mold even in the ice box as they do not have any of the added chemical preservatives that your store bought ones have and are more subject to spoilage unless you decide to process them.