It is that time of year again… pickle-making time! I’ve made a couple of gallons so far and I thought now is the perfect time to share my favorite six tips for making great lacto-fermented dill pickles.
- Do use half gallon jars. Unless you have teeny tiny cucumbers half (or one) gallon jars work really well. I like these ball canning jars.
- Do keep your cucumbers whole. I tried making pickle slices last year, but they turned mushy no matter how many grape or oak leaves I stuck in there. The whole cucumbers keep their crunch much better.
- Do make your brine ahead of time using boiling water. I make up a huge pitcher of brine using a ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt to one cup water. Be sure to allow the brine to cool completely.
- Do use grape or other leaves to keep them crunchy. Grape or oak leaves (or horseradish, I believe) contain tannins that work to keep your cucumbers crunchy. There is nothing worse than a mushy pickle.
- Do NOT overfill your jars and "burp" them. Leaving headspace allows the brine to bubble up without exploding the jars. I also like to loosen the lids once or twice a day and allow some of the fermentation gas to escape. I learned this the hard way. We had a funny incident involving an exploding jar in the middle of the night. My husband searched high and low for an intruder, only to find a broken jar on the table and pickle juice dribbling on the floor.
- Do use various sized cucumbers. Fitting the cucumbers into the narrow jars can be a challenge if they’re all too big. I found that layering seasonings at the bottom of the jar followed by a layer of larger cucumbers standing straight up followed by another layer of seasonings and then a bunch of smaller cucumbers works well.
You can also purchase jars and air lock equipment from cultures for health to make your pickle-making experience even better.
What about you… Do you have any pickle-making tips to share?