What's better than an old-fashioned pickle? Here is a recipe for those old-timey crock pickles found in the General Store of Yesteryear.
Any large container can be used.
Select unblemished, firm cucumbers. Trim off the blossom end and wash them well to remove any clingy contaminants. However many cucumbers you use will determine how many pickles you will have. Do not trim or cut the cukes beyond removing the blossom end. Leave them whole.
You will also need some weights to keep the cucumbers under the level of your brine, an upside-down plate works well; and some cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel to protect the crock from contaminants during fermentation.
Put your cucumbers and spices in the crock. Mix your water and salt to make a 2% brine solution and pour it over the pickles. Put your weight on top of the cucumbers to keep them under the brine, and lay a damp cheesecloth or clean dishtowel over the crock opening. Place in a cool, dark place to ferment.
Place your pickling vessel is out of direct sunlight and away from drafts. Your pickles will begin to ferment overnight. Keep the temperature relatively steady.
You can begin taste-testing after 7 days. The longer you leave them, the more mellow the flavor. Don't be discouraged if a white mold develops on the top of the brine. This is normal. That's the lactic acid doing it's job. Just remove the film with a paper towel and wipe the inside of the crock, and continue fermenting. Remove any pickles that develop mold or an off-odor.
Not all ferments "take." This is not a guaranteed process. If your pickles still haven't processed in two weeks, toss out the batch, clean your crock, and start over. Out of 8 batches of fermented foods, I've lost one batch of sauerkraut. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad record, but it happens.
When you reach the perfect pickle, place them in jars and pour over some of the brine from the crock. You can seal these by the water-bath canning method or refrigerate them for storage. You might be able to keep them in your root cellar if it never gets over 65 degrees F all year round.
They should keep for a couple months in the fridge, or up to 2 years on the shelf if you seal them.
Just remember that if you seal them with heat, the probiotic benefit of the fermentation process will be lost.
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