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Fermented and Crispy,  Sliced or Whole

 My garden gave me cucumbers this year. Big cucumbers. More than I could use in salads. Bigger than I could pickle whole. I have attempted fermented pickle slices in the past, but they always turn to mush. Eventually I just skipped sliced pickles and made them whole, then I sliced them afterwards if needed. Originally I followed the recipe in Nourishing Traditions  (page 97, Pickled Cucumbers), my pickles were rather hit or miss, even whole, sometimes they would be softer than I would prefer. There are two articles that drastically improved my pickle making; Nourishing Days posted a method for making pickles that encouraged me to experiment with my flavors and this article on Healthy Home Economist introduced me to using bay leaves (I had tried grape leaves prior, but the bay leaves seem to give more of a crunch). Now I had truly crunchy pickles each and every time and I felt free to really experiment with flavor or keep things as simple as possible. However I didn't branch out to try sliced pickles, I just assumed they had to be whole.

It wasn't until this summer (after years of perfect whole pickles) that I jumped on the internet to see what I would have to do to make sliced pickles crunchy. A quick google search led me to Girl Meets Nourishment's pickle post, which was essentially exactly what I had already been doing for my whole pickles, she used bay leaves. Armed with the confidence to try again I sliced up several quarts of cucumbers, added my favorite simple blend of spices, topped with brine and eagerly awaited the bacterial transformation of cucumber to pickle. After 2 (very warm) days I had crispy sliced pickles. I've put up about 3 quarts every other weekend with great results, with all of that you'd think I'd be set for a while  but somehow my family likes to devour pickles at an alarming rate, which means I'll be back to making whole pickles out of the little ones I find in the store soon enough.

Pickles- Fermented and Crispy,  Sliced or Whole

Makes 1 Quart

Pickles, sliced or whole, as much/many as will fit (up to 1" from the top)

                (about 1 1/2 large cucumbers for sliced and 5-6 mini cucumbers for whole)

2 Tablespoons whey

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1- 1 1/2 cups filtered water

6 bay leaves (dried or fresh)

4 cloves garlic, slightly crushed

1-2 teaspoons dried peppercorn

1-2 teaspoons dried dill OR several sprigs fresh

1-3 pinches of red pepper flakes

Extras (things I may or may not add depending on my mood)

1/4 onion, sliced

1 tsp mustard seed

a sprinkle of juniper berries or allspice berries

anything else that seems tasty...


Equipment: 1 quart glass jar with lid

This isn't traditional canning so you don't have to sterilize your jar,  just make sure it is clean. Rinse the cucumbers and slice them about a 1/4" thick (or just rinse them if whole). Place 2 of the bay leaves on the bottom and then begin filling the jar with cucumber (and onion if using), stop about half full to slide 2 more bay leaves in. Once the cucumber is arranged in the jar leaving plenty of space at the top (at least an inch) slip the last two bay leaves in and add any seeds, peppercorn, garlic cloves and spices that you desire that day and gently shake them into the jar. Mix the whey, water and salt in a measuring cup, allowing most of the salt to dissolve and then pour the salt mixture into the jar until the cucumbers are covered. Cover with a lid and allow to sit at room temperature until your desired taste and texture has been reached, my kitchen is in the mid  to high 80s in the summer and in the mid to high 50s in the winter so the amount of days on the counter vary greatly by season, if it is warm start checking after 2 days.  If using a plastic mason jar lid the air escapes pretty easily, if using a metal canning lid you may need to relieve the pressure and "burp" (slightly open and then reclose) the jar while it is fermenting. Once ready store in your fridge or cold cellar (I can dream, right?).

Linked Up @

An Oregon Cottage- Tuesday Garden Party

She Eats- Fresh Food Wednesday

Kelly the Kitchen Kop's- Real Food Wednesday

The Gluten Free Homemaker- Gluten-Free Wednesday


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