If you aren’t familiar with it, lacto-fermentation is the act of creating a lactic-acid rich environment that enables the natural preservation of certain foods. Lacto-fermentation also makes these foods more nutritious (it increases their vitamin content) and more digestible (it fosters the growth of natural probiotics). Lacto-fermenting is also referred to as “culturing” foods. Vegetables are easily lacto-fermented/cultured by mixing them with a salt water solution and allowing them to sit in an air-tight container (a glass mason jar works well) at room temperature for several days before moving them to the refrigerator. I like simple dill pickles without additional spices, but you could add a few teaspoons of picking spices, if you like. You could also add 1 Tb. of mustard seeds (the recipe that inspired this one, from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, actually calls for this). - WinnieAb —WinnieAb
Test Kitchen Notes
I've made many pickles over the years, all in search of the elusive half-sour pickle from Brauer's Deli, a memory of my childhood. My search is over -- I declare these to be the perfect deli pickle. Crunchy, briny, fresh tasting, and garlicky with a terrific herbal note from the dill. The process couldn't have been easier. And the bonus? I got to use my antique canning jars! Next time, I might add a small chile pepper to the mix. - MrsWheelbarrow
4-5 kirby or other type of pickling cucumbers
snipped fresh dill
very clean 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar with screw-top lid (run through the dishwasher before using to ensure it is sterilized)
Wash the cucumbers. Snip off the very ends and slice them lengthwise. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the garlic scapes and then cut them into pieces several inches long.
Place cucumbers and garlic scapes into a 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar. Mix salt and water in a small bowl and pour into the jar. Add additional water so that the vegetables are completely covered and the liquid is about 1 inch below the top of the jar. Screw the top on the jar tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for three days.
After this time, go ahead and open the jar. The liquid should be pretty fizzy, which means the lacto-fermentation was successful. If there is any type of “off smell”, discard and start again (I’m mentioning this as a caution, but also want to mention that I have been lacto-fermenting for years, and I have never had anything go wrong).
Go ahead and taste a pickle. The cucumbers should have a nice garlicky tang from the scapes, and they should be pleasantly “dilly”. You can eat the pickled garlic scapes too, of course, but they are strong.
Once opened, move your jar to the refrigerator for storage. Lacto-fermentation will continue in the colder temperature, but at a much slower rate, and the garlic scapes should mellow a bit over time.
I grew up in a restaurant family (my parents owned the now closed Quilted Giraffe in NYC) and I've always loved to cook.
My interest in the connection between food and health led me to pursue a graduate degree in naturopathic medicine. I don't practice medicine anymore; I have a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen that I started in May of 2009 and I wrote a book called One Simple Change that will be published in January, 2014.
I live in upstate New York with my family and many pets.