Fun fact: I only recently learned that I can ferment my own pickles. I thought that my mom’s method of making pickles with vinegar was the only way of doing it! Wow, was I wrong. I recently picked up a copy of the book Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Jeremy Shockey. (Stop by your local bookstore and pick it up or order it today – it’s a terrific resource!) This is their recipe for garlic pickle slices – and be warned: this recipe is FOR GARLIC LOVERS ONLY. That said, they are crazy delicious and so good for you, chock full of probiotics.
- 2 cucumbers* cut into 1/3-1/2″ thick slices
- 1 medium onion cut into chunks
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and halved
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (yellow or black)
- 1/2 gallon cucumber brine (6 tablespoons unrefined sea salt in 1/2 gallon unchlorinated water)
- a few grape leaves
- In a large stainless steel bowl, toss the cucumbers, onions, and garlic with the spices.
- Put the vegetables + spices in a half-gallon jar or crock.
- Add enough brine to cover the vegetables. (Store additional brine in the fridge in case you need to top off the jar during fermentation!)
- Tuck a few grape leaves in the top to keep the vegetables under the brine.
- Top with a pickle pipe (totally worth the investment) and screw on the outer ring. If you don’t have a pickle pipe, top with a sealed, water-filled jar that fits inside the mouth of the half-gallon jar, or top with a water-filled ziplock baggie as a combination weight and follower. Be sure to keep the vegetables under the brine level during fermentation.
- Set aside on a baking sheet in a cool place to ferment. The ideal fermentation temperature is 60-65 degrees. Make sure the jar is out of direct sunlight.
- Check the slices daily to make sure they are submerged, pressing down as needed. Scoop out any scum that develops on the surface. The water will become cloudy – that is normal and exactly what you want as the mixture ferments.
- Begin tasting your pickles on day 4. You’ll know it’s ready when it tastes like pickles – it should be mild and half-sour by day 4, and the flavor will develop to fully sour. They are ready when you like the flavor. Total fermentation time should be 4-7 days.
- Store in smaller jars in the fridge for up to 6 months. (Mine are generally gone within a few days – so good luck getting them to last!)
*Note: You can use any type of cucumbers for this recipe. If you were making whole pickles, you’d want a specific variety to get the firmness/crispness you want in a whole pickle, but that’s not necessary for this recipe. I’ve made it with garden variety cucumbers available year round in the grocery store, no problem.