Pickling the Pearlstone Way:
- Fill up the pint jar ½ way with warm water
- Place 2 teaspoons of salt into the jar; stir until the salt dissolves
- For flavoring, add up to 1 tablespoon of pickling spice, dill, and garlic
- Slice the cucumbers into spears and pack into the jar
- Fill the jar with water until the spears are completely submerged in the brine
- Place a couple of sprigs of dill on the top surface to keep the cucumbers submerged.
- Cover the jar; Do not fully tighten the lid.
- Once the pickles have reached the desired taste, refrigerate and enjoy!
About Lacto-Bacillic Fermentation
- Lacto-bacilli are lactic-acid producing bacteria which occur naturally on the skins of most vegetables.
- When we ferment we create the right environment for these bacteria to reproduce and proliferate at the expense of spoilage or any other bacteria.
- There are a series of lacto-bacilli and they each do slightly different things.
- Big picture: They break down natural sugars releasing a variety of acids and organic compounds. Lactic acid, a natural preservative, is the main by-product.
We do this by creating just the right conditions for our allies. Our friends the lacto bacilli like to hang out in an anaerobic environment – so we have to keep the air out. Then- we use the tools of Salt, Temperature, and Time to create just the right habitat for them to proliferate.
Salt: Reinforcements from the mineral kingdom
Pickling salt has no iodine or additives: sea salt is best and kosher is O.K. The smaller amount of salt the more rapid fermentation and more acid you get= more sour and softer pickle. The more salt –the less acid= crunchier, less sour flavor- more salt flavor.
Salt has three functions:
- Drawing water out of the vegetable cells through osmosis.
- Inhibiting effect of spoilage microorganisms.
- Regulating the fermentation by inhibiting lactobacilli themselves.
Temperature: Not too hot and not too cold
The temperature needs to be within a range of the bacteria’s preference- which is between 15-26 degrees Celsius (60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Too cold and the spoilage microorganisms might suddenly be favored, too much above 80 and you will get off flavors and the keeping value suffers.
Time: Are they done yet?
The vital period of fermentation takes place over a three-day period- it is the first three days in which you should not disturb your vessel. That is when the microorganisms are creating the first burst of lactic acid- thereby setting up the environment for the future and establishing an environment that is not at risk of spoilage. At this point- oxygen is being used up and replaced with Co2. (This is why we must create a one-way seal on our vessels- and burp quart jars.) As a general rule, veggies with higher sugar content, higher moisture or less fiber take less time to ferment. Lower sugar, lower moisture and higher fiber takes more time to ferment. General time-frame for cucumber pickles: 5-10 days
“Wild foods, microbial cultures included, possess a great, unmediated life force, which can help us adapt to shifting conditions and lower our susceptibility to disease. By eating a variety of live fermented foods, you promote diversity among microbial cultures in your body.
Biodiversity, increasingly recognized as critical to the survival of larger-scale ecosystems, is just as important at the micro level. Call it microbiodiversity. Your body is an ecosystem that can function most effectively when populated by diverse species of microorganisms.
Wild fermentation is the opposite of homogenization and uniformity, a small antidote you can undertake in your home, using the extremely localized populations of microbial cultures present there, to produce your own unique fermented foods.”
-Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation