Then off to the fridge they go, where the culture will be slowed to a craw, and your pickles can be stored until you are done eating them.
Things that impact your pickle making process:
Freshness of produce
Hopefully this tutorial will help you in making a wonderful, and tasty old fashioned pickle full of tummy loving good bacteria.
This recipe is for a 2 gallon crock, or 2 one gallon jars.
10 lbs pickling cucumbers- the fresher the better
2/3 cup non-iodized salt without caking agent. (canning salt, pickling salt, kosher salt, sea salt etc.) Keep in mind each flake size of salt is different. This recipe is using kosher salt so if you are using a large flake salt from the high reaches of the Himalayan mountains you might need a little more to achieve the same salinity.
4-6 tablespoon of pickling seasoning
10 heads of dill (You can never have too much dill in a dill pickle.)
6 cloves of garlic (optional, but you are not eating MY pickles if you don't include it!)
1-2 chili peppers if desired. (optional)
Non chlorinated water
Grape or oak leaves to cover your jar.
As you can tell my pickling recipe is very based on taste. I learned from an old Jewish recipe that is like a lot of old recipes- a splash, a dash, a shake of this or that. I did modify it for safe canning practices.
The only things you can't adapt are the salt amount, and don't add sugar.
1) Start by inspecting your cucumbers for softness, and rot, and scraping the blossom end off the cucumber.
The blossom should be removed entirely.
DO NOT USE SOAP! ESPECIALLY ANTI-MICROBIAL/ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP
It can impact your ferment. If you are concerned about pesticide residue fill a large bowl with cool water and vinegar and then rinse well.
You can use pickling crocks, gallon jars, half gallon jars, quarts, or food grade buckets with lids and airlocks. Basically what I'm saying is don't go out and spend a fortune to learn to pickle. Use whatever you can get your hands on.
Add about 1/2 cup of filtered, non-chlorinated water to the bottom of the jar to create a strong salt brine.
Air needs to escape your brine. If using mason jars don't use the lids, only the rings with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel inserted.
For this process I like non-chlorinated water without fluoride, but do not use distilled water.
Place your jar in a cool dark place. Pickle cultures do best in an environment between 40-74 degrees F. Any hotter and you could get yeast over growth that will soften pickles, any cooler and your ferment will slow to a crawl. If your house is hotter then 74 degrees (like mine) any glass container can be set in a bowl, or tote full of cool water to maintain a more even fermentation temperature.
Check your ferment daily. Push any vegetables back under the brine to prevent spoilage, and make sure you scrape any scum off the top of the brine. Scum will be a off white film with out fuzzy mold, or odd colors.
Small patches of mold can form too. Gray and fuzzy is harmless but might make your ferment a little "earthier" in flavor.
This is day 2 of a pickle making. One pickle has managed to float to the top and will need to be pushed back down into the brine. Notice the bubbles, they are a good sign that your culture is working!
Fermentation time is variable based on temperature, and the longer you allow them to sit the more intense they become. Test one after a week, but it can take up to 4 weeks depending on temperature, and how fermented you like your pickle.
A finished pickle will turn olive in color, and be translucent. The brine will also be cloudy and that is okay.
MY FAVORITE QUESTION:
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PICKLE WENT BAD?
Humans survival has been closely linked to determining if food is bad using our instincts. Does it look bad? Does it smell bad? Does it feel bad? Does it taste bad?
Notice the order? You have 3 senses you use before anything ever gets into your mouth. And if you still decide to taste it, a bad pickle will not be swallowed!
If a pickle has red or pink mold, an off smell, or is slimy don't eat it!
I do not personally like vinegar added my ferment, because part of the reason I ferment is to avoid the vinegar. But I do follow their canning process in the link above when I get ready to can.
Also if you notice their recipe requires a great deal more salt because of the vinegar and salt need to strike a balance. This is a newer guideline, but it is the guideline so I'm including it. Anything you do otherwise is obviously at your own (relatively low) risk. Notice also the time frame for a fermented pickle is much longer with vinegar.