Sour Pickles

Brined sour pickles can be as challenging as they are rewarding. The best pickles are made from fresh cucumbers, but truly fresh cucumbers can be hard to find. Farmer's markets are your best bet, but we've made good pickles with Kirbys from our local supermarket; the key is finding great looking cucumbers and freshening them up with an overnight cold-water soak. After that, it's a mostly a matter of checking in on the crock every day and making sure the pickles are submerged beneath clean brine. A bad batch can happen, but when when they're good, the complex flavor of a home-made sour pickle is incomparable.

Ingredients makes 3 quarts

Instructions Images

  1. Wash the cucumbers under cold water, gently scrubbing off any visible dirt and setting aside any cucumbers with soft or bruised spots.
  2. Trim or scrape 1/16 of an inch off the blossom end off the cucumbers.
  3. Soaking the cucumbers in cold water overnight in a steel or plastic container in the fridge can help firm and freshen them before brining. Because the cucumbers will absorb some of the soaking water, you'll want to use the same clean water you'd use for the brine.
  4. Mix the brine and add it to the crock. Since the scale we recommend can handle the weight, we place the crock on the scale, zero it, add the water, zero again, and then measure in the salt. Stir well to combine.
  5. Add the pickling spices, dill, optional garlic and red pepper flakes to the brine.
  6. Add the cucumbers to the crock and weigh down with a crock weight. Be sure the cucumbers are beneath the weight and covered by at least two inches of brine.
  7. Cover the crock with a top and leave at room temperature to ferment, 75° is the ideal. Warmer and the fermentation will happen faster, colder will be slower.
  8. Check the crock every day and skim off any foam, scum or mold. White mold is OK, but green mold and rotten smells are a sign the batch has gone bad and needs to be thrown out.
  9. Check the crock after 3 days, and remove any pickles that seem overly soft. Depending on the temperature, the pickles will be sour in one to four weeks.
  10. Move the pickles into a jar covered by at least one inch of their brine, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Notes

  • 4 lbs of cucumbers are the most that fit comfortably in a two gallon crock in a gallon of brine, but you can certainly make less. Because the pickles need to remain below the brine, it's best to make a gallon of brine.

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