Several years ago, soon after reading Nourishing Traditions the first time, I tried some lacto-fermenting. I’m not sure what all went wrong, but the salsa was too salty and the pickles were both mushy and somewhat carbonated.
This year, I tried again, partly due to a new friend who is interested in such things (although he never got around to it this summer, perhaps because of a new job and new property and a baby and stuff like that).
So — I had six cucumbers from our garden, which I thought would fill two jars, so I planned on one jar with whey and one without. My first attempt used whey, and some bloggers I’ve read prefer the taste of whey-less pickles, so I thought it would be interesting to compare.
Both jars had
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
3 black peppercorns
1 1/2 t mustard seed
2 T fresh dill from the garden
9-10 fresh sour cherry leaves from the yard (they’re spotted… I’m hoping whatever made the spots won’t spoil the pickles; sour cherry, oak, grape, and horseradish leaves are all supposed to help the pickles get and stay crisp)
Then I packed in the sliced cucumbers — after they’d soaked in ice water for about six hours.
One jar got a cup of filtered water mixed with 1 T sea salt and 3 T whey dripped from plain store yogurt (the thick yogurt left after dripping was seriously yummy with sliced peaches and maple syrup for lunch).
The other jar got a cup of filtered water mixed with 2 T sea salt.
And I still had two cucumbers left, so I washed another jar and decided to try the dry-pack method. I mixed the slices with sea salt in a bowl and then packed the jar. Simple enough — and there’s already liquid collecting at the bottom of the jar. (I just realized that they weighed one pound, not two, which means I put in double the salt — oops! I wonder what will happen…)
To weigh down the pickles in each jar, keeping them submerged, I used boiled glass gems (found with aquarium accessories in the pet supply aisle) tied in cheesecloth (found with the varnish; yeah).