Intro: Cold Cucumber Pickles
I know there are a few pickle recipes on instructables but most use different pickling methods. There's an old fashioned fermented one, a fewhot brinemethods and even one with water done over a fire. So far I haven't found a cold pickling version, although maybe I'm not looking hard enough. It's time to fix that!
This pickle is a cross between a fermented and a brined pickle. The pickles are left to lacto-ferment for 24 hours before being spiced, covered in cold vinegar, sealed, and put in the fridge to cure and ferment slowly for a little longer. It's a happy medium between the various pickling methods available. They're pretty tasty, too.
You can flavour them with anything you want and they make a pretty nice dill pickle with some added dill.
Here's the recipe:
Cold Salted Cucumber Pickles
800 g (1 3/4 lb) pickling cucumbers
315 ml (1 1/3 C) sea salt
apple cider vinegar to fill jar
1 tsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/4 c sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic
Edit: These are some pretty pickled pickles. The basic recipe is intensely salty and vinegary. (Put it in a potato salad!) For a more mellow pickle, try adding some water to thin the vinegar and a tsp of sugar to soften the flavours. (Thanks gen81465!)
Images: Spiced and packed pickles ready to cure for a few weeks
Step 1: Fermenting the Cucumbers
To ferment the cucumbers a couple of bacteria need to get into action. One bacteria, a friendly Streptococcus, starts the digestion so that the helpful bacteria Lactobacillus can eat up the cucumbers and create Lactic acid to help preserve the food. Lactobacillus is a salt-tolerant bacteria and not many others are. This means salt should be added during the initial fermentation to prevent things like mold and yeast from growing on your cucumbers.
To prepare your pickles, rinse them off and scrub them well with a clean scrubber. Cut them into quarters or halves length wise depending on size. If your cucumbers are massive, slice them into rounds. Layer the cucumbers with salt in a nonreactive bowl, starting with salt on the bottom and ending with salt at the top. Cover them in plastic wrap, mark them with the time and wait patiently for 24 hours.
Images: Pickles salted and ready to ferment, Cucumbers sweating after 3-4 hours of lacto-fermentation, Rinsed cucumbers ready to start their lives as pickles
Step 2: Finishing the Pickles
When 23 hours have passed, sterilize a 1L (1qt) mason jar and lid to hold the pickles. Make sure the lid is a vinegar-proof lid that has been coated in something nonreactive.
To sterilize, place the jar on a rack in the bottom of a big pot. It's important that you have something to lift the jar up off the bottom of the pot or it could crack from being so close to the heat. A round cake rack, canning rings, and aluminum foil all work great. Cover the jar with room temperature water and place on the stove on medium with a lid. Once the water is boiling, allow to boil vigorously for 10 minutes more then take off the heat and place on a hot pad. Don't open the lid until the water has cooled and you're ready to pack in the pickles, then the jars will just get covered with microbes again and what was the point?
When 24 hours have passed and the pot with your sterilized jar is lukewarm, pack the jar with your spices, onion and garlic with any additional flavourings you would like. Rinse the pickles off in cold water and pack them in your jar then top the jar off with vinegar. Seal with your vinegar-proof will and place in the fridge to mature for 3-4 weeks before eating.
This recipe is for a basic pickle-flavoured pickle. For dill pickles, just add a couple sprigs of dill. If you want some garlic pickles just add a few cloves. Spicy pickles? Add some chili! If they're too sour or salty for you try adding a teaspoon of sugar.
If the type of sour isn't quite right, you can substitute any vinegar other than rice vinegar. White wine vinegar is one of the most popular choices. Why not rice vinegar? It has a lower acidity than others and may not properly preserve the vegetables on it's own.
After curing and before you eat the pickles give them an inspection and a good whiff. How do they look? Throw away anything remotely slimy or fuzzy. How do they smell? A bit sour I bet! Make sure they don't smell musty, too sour, or off in any way before you eat them. The nose always knows.
Image: The sealed and vinegared pickles ready to cure for a few weeks before eating