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Sunday, January 17, 2010

I love pickles!

I love pickles. I don't think I've ever met anyone that doesn't love pickles. (Ok, maybe one. My husband. But he still likes them, even if he doesn't love them.) My favorite kind of pickles are half sour dill pickles.
In my area, you can't really get dill pickles easily, especially not half sour ones, unless you're willing to fork over a boatload of money, and if you've been reading my blog carefully, I'm sure you know that I am not one to do so, especially for something as mundane as a condiment. Even regular salt pickles are not so cheap either here.
But I love pickles. If I could find a way to make this condiment cheaply, I would.

I did find a good recipe for pickles. I'd tried before and failed, but this time when I tried making pickles they came out superbly. And you'd never guess- they're also a post for my “No wait- don't throw that out yet” series.

Bought cucumbers over a week ago and they're now getting soft? Don't like wilted cucumbers in your salad? Neither do I.
There's still another use for your wilted cucumber. More than one. Today I'll touch the topic of “Making Pickles from Wilted Cucumbers”.

No, the cucumbers don't need to be pickling cucumbers. Nor do they need to be small, thin, or short. And you don't need any special spices or equipment either.


Making Pickles

Cut your cucumbers into 3 or 4 inch long spears. Put them into a glass jar. Add 1.5 tablespoons of mustard seeds and 1.5 tablespoons of dry dill.
Add 3 tablespoons of salt (any kind will do) and cover the cucumbers with water.
Taste the water. It should taste salty. If the water isn't saltier than you'd like your food, add more salt.

Salt will help ensure that harmful bacterias won't start growing in your pickles. If it isn't salty enough your pickles will spoil. Make sure its salty! Cover your jar, either with a plastic bag held in place by a rubber band, a loosely closed jar cover, etc. You want to make sure that airborne bacteria aren't finding their way into your pickles.

Leave your pickles on the counter for a few days. Every 12 hours or so, you'll want to dunk down the cucumbers that have floated to the top so that they aren't sitting outside of the brine and allowed to rot. (I didn't used to do this and every time I'd try to make pickles, the uppermost ones would turn moldy.)
In time, lacto-bacillus bacteria will form a colony in your “soon to be pickles” jar. These bacteria eat the sugars in the pickles and make lactic acid and make the pickles sour. This is called lacto-fermentation and is one of the traditional food preservation methods talked about in Nourishing Traditions.
After your pickles become sufficiently sour, transfer your jar of pickles to the refrigerator.
Lacto-bacillus bacteria are probiotics. I know my father isn't a believer in probiotics (Hello, Daddy!) but I am. Studies show that probiotics have a great affect on your system, help digestion and replace the bacteria killed by antibiotics. If you can get probiotics into your system, save vegetables from the fate of the dumpster and eat yummy food all the while- why not?

(Not my pickles, just an internet picture.)

If you try making these pickles, let me know how they come out!

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