Intro: Sweet Fermented Pickles
A low-calorie low-glycemic index Sweet fermented Pickle recipe. Fermented pickles are a live food, creating beneficial Lactobacilli and other probiotics.
Step 1: Drill Out a Canning Jar Lid to Accept a Fermentation Lock
Using a 1/2" drill and a clamp, drill a 1/2" hole in a canning jar lid. Use a larger drill bit, such as a 3/4" bit, to deburr the hole. You may also use a hammer to flatten out burrs.
Step 2: Install a Fermentation Lock
The fermentation lock is a plastic S-Curved tube that allows gas pressure to escape, but locks out oxygen. It fits in a 1/2" rubber grommet. Both can be obtained at a homebrewing store or ordered from various internet sources.
Step 3: Make a Pickle Weight
If the pickled ingredients poke above the brine that you'll make in a later step, they can mold. If you see any sign of mold in your pickle batch - white, stringy or hairy growths, throw the entire batch out it is no good.
A pickle weight is a glass or ceramic (never metal - metal will corrode in the brine) object that is just small enough to fit inside the canning jar mouth. I found some old wine glasses that had just the right size stem. Grind it off with a side grinder (USE SAFETY GLASSES) - just nicking it all around allows you to snap the glass cleanly. Deburr sharp edges and wash thoroughly. (DID I MENTION THE SAFETY GLASSES?) This will go on top of your veggies, weighing them down to prevent floating above the brine.
Step 4: Vegetable Ingredients
You can pickle nearly any vegetable - pickling is not just for cucumbers anymore! Squash, carrots I especially love, beets, you name it, it will probably pickle. Onions are fantastic pickled - I always add onions. You'll need about 5 cups of sliced veggies for a half-gallon canning jar full. Any leftovers can go in your dinner. Slice them about 1/2" thick.
Step 5: Brine and Spices
To grow the right bacteria (Lactobacilli) and kill the bad bacteria, you'll need a carefully measured brine.
- DO NOT use iodized salt. The Iodine can kill good bacteria, leaving you with a salty soup of chopped veggies.
- In a large bowl combine:
- 88 grams canning and pickling salt (Measure by grams, not volume, as salt can vary in density)
- 1000 mL (4 cups) warm water (~40C)
- Juice of one lemon
- 500 mL (2 cups) Xylotol, a low-glycemic index, non-nutritive sugar good for diabetics. You can use regular sugar if that's not a big deal to you.
Now add the following ingredients to a half-gallon wide-mouth canning jar:
- 1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Celery Seeds
- 3-4 Bay Leaves
- OPTIONAL: 3-4 Oak or Grape Leaves. These provide tannin which can improve the pickles.
Step 6: Add Veggies
Now that you've got a canning jar with spices and oak or grape leaves at the bottom, and brine at the ready, you can add veggies!
About 5 cups of veggies should fill a half gallon jar. Alternate them, adding onions, cukes, zukes, carrots, and so on in layers until you are near the top.
Notice I haven't said anything about sterilization? This isn't canning. We are relying on the brine to set up the right conditions for proper, beneficial fermentation. This is a well-studied and safe phenomenon. Make sure things going in are cleaned, but they don't have to be sterile.
Now add your pickle weight, and pour brine over the top until there is a 1/2" air gap. Don't allow any veggies to stick up above the brine, or they may mold!
Step 7: Add Fermentation Lock, and Place in a Cool Dark Spot for 1-4 Weeks
Add the fermentation lock and lid assembly. Make sure the fermentation lock tube is above the top of the brine level so gases can escape. Fill the Fermentation lock half full with water on both sides.
Place the pickles in a cool area, like a basement or a slab floor, and cover to keep out light.
In 4 days you should see it bubbling, by a week it should be edible as pickles, or you can wait longer and let the beneficial probiotics develop up to 4 weeks. Toss it on the compost pile if you see any signs of mold, which are prevented mostly by keeping all veggies under brine.
After that, you can keep them in the fridge, but you won't keep them long, because they will disappear!