How to Pickle and Ferment Your Favorite Foods!
Updated: Jun 16
Fermented foods have existed across countries and cultures for centuries. With Kimchi originating in Korea, Sauerkraut in Germany and Pickles in the Tigris Valley sometime around 2030 BC.
Many benefits can be found in fermented foods. The process includes growing a healthy bacteria called a probiotic. Probiotics can also be found in yogurts and Kombucha which are known to aid in digestion and the ability to boost the immune system.
Of the types of fermented foods, your new hobby box is fully capable of fermenting kimchi or sauerkraut but this tutorial will will focus on pickling.
The name “Pickle” is derived from the Dutch word Pekel (or in German: Pokel) meaning salt or brine.
When most of us hear ‘pickle’, we think cucumber. But a pickle can refer to any fresh fruit or raw vegetable that completes the fermentation process in an acid liquid until they are no longer vulnerable to spoilage. Cucumbers are typically pickled in a saltwater brine and lacto-fermented.
Your Pickling Kit Includes:
Wide Mouth Mason Jar + Lid
Double Bubble Airlock
Lid Cap + Stopper
Apart from the items in your New Hobby Box, you will only need to source the cucumbers or whatever vegetable you’d like to pickle.
Step #1 - Sterilize your Mason Jar
After removing the lid, either run the glass jar through the dishwasher or boil in hot water.
Step #2 - Fill your Jar with Goodies
Your pickling spice mixture includes all of the spices used in pickling: Mustard Seed, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, Black Pepper, Dill, Cloves, Allspice, Chili Peppers, and Bay Leaves.
Note: The tannins in the bay leaves are what make the pickles crisp. (PS: Grape leaves and Oak leaves can also create this effect)
Here we’ve used 1 lb of baby seedless cucumbers and a tablespoon of the pickling spices.
Step #3 - Prepare the Brine
Combine 1 quart of warm water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir until salt is completely dissolved.
Step #4 - Fill Jar and Add Weight
Slowly pour brine into jar leaving about 1 – 2 inches of headspace. Place weight on top.
Step #5 - Attach Airlock System and Silicone Gasket
Whooooop! It’s time! Screw airlock on as the lid of the jar. Before doing so, be sure to fill the airlock with water to the max line on each side.
Step #6 - Find a Home for Your Jar for 3 to 7 Days
Pickling is easy because the ideal temperature is 65-75 degrees like most homes. A corner counter space works great as long as the jar is out of direct sunlight. After the 3rd or 4th day, open and taste your pickles.
How the Airlock Works:
As the healthy bacteria in the jar begins to grow, it will release CO2 bubbles. As the CO2 rises, it escapes through the airlock without letting yeast, oxygen and bad bacterias inside the jar. (The salt water brine also combats bad bacteria)
What You’ll Notice:
Within 48 hours you’ll begin to see water pushing up into the chambers. Over time, as the gas bubbles rise, the water will push to one side. You will also notice the water turn cloudy- this is great! That means the process is underway!
Once you taste and determine your pickles are just right, remove the lacto-fermenter to replace with the mason jar lid. Then store in the refrigerator- this stops the fermentation process. It’s optional, but leaving the sealed jar in the fridge for a few days is said to crisp the pickles further. (this is a topic of controversy in the pickling world)
Interested in Kimchi and Sauerkraut?
Same process, different ingredients. If you wish to use airlock, on back to back batches, wash all pieces thoroughly with soap and warm water.
HEY! Please note**** If a cap is placed on the jar (like shown in videos) rather than an airlock, the jar must be “burped” every 1-2 days to release gasses. Otherwise, the cap could overflow or even blow off.
Here are just some random facts and fun things about PICKLES:
🥒 Cleopatra praised pickles as being one of her prized beauty secrets.
🥒 The average American consumes 8 pounds of pickles each year.
🥒 North Carolina and Michigan produce the most pickles in the US.
🥒 It’s been said, you can hear the crunch of a ‘good pickle’ at 10 paces.
🥒 In Fiji, men use pickle pits as a form of courting a woman- proving he can provide for the woman.
🥒 Nautical explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Captain Cook used pickles to help prevent scurvy amongst their crews.
🥒 Napoleon offered a large cash prize to who could find the best pickling method for his troops.
🥒 The US Supreme Court has ruled that pickles are technically a fruit, similar to tomatoes.