pickle sliced in long spearsCrispy Fermented Pickles

My first attempt at making fermented pickles (minus the dill) turned out pretty good, and I’ve made a few more batches since then. I’ve been experimenting with different cucumbers, lengths of time, slicing and not slicing.

If you lacto-ferment veggies with any level of frequency varying from one time in college to every week, you’ll understand why I was excited to have snagged some wild grapes leaves on my way home from my recent backpacking trip. Adding grape leaves (or oak) helps keep the pickles crisp. I was very happy to try and it does indeed work wonders – no more mushy middles.

I also tried freezing some grape leaves to see if they would keep longer and could still be used in pickling and it seems to work just fine.

jars with crisp green cucumbers and bright orange carrotsFirst Time with Grape Leaves

I harvested even more grape leaves at my dad’s last weekend – super stoked about that. We still have cucumbers in the garden and I just started another batch of fermented pickles today.

Here are some things that I’ve learned through the last few trials:

The pickling cucumbers that are growing in our garden have a really thick skin and though that’s not bad, it’s not great either. The smaller slicers that we’re also growing work great as fermented pickles. No need to cut off their ends either; they seem just fine whole. We prefer them to the pickles from the pickling cucumbers.

I also think the pickles are crispier if they are pickled whole and sliced just before serving. The sliced carrots that I’ve been adding for color and to fill in empty gaps may just be our favorite to eat. (Don’t tell my cucumber pickles I said so, I still love them, too.)

Another great tip I found online is that the room-temp, counter stage of the ferment is complete when the bubbling stops. Super helpful. And they do seem to get better after at least another week in the refrigerator.

I was wondering why some people call them lacto-fermented pickles when there is no whey used, just salt water brine. I asked a seasoned fermenter and found out that lactobacillus grows naturally in this type of fermenting process. (That really good bacteria that your body needs in your gut to digest your food properly.) Good to know!

grape leaves on wood table, spread out in a fanWe Got Grape (Leaves)