5 1/2 ounces pickling salt, approximately 1/2 cup
1 gallon filtered water
3 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6-inches long
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 large bunch dill
Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Set aside.
Place the peppercorns, pepper flakes, garlic, dill seed and fresh dill into a 1-gallon crock. Add the cucumbers to the crock on top of the aromatics. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers in order to completely cover. Pour the remaining water into a 1-gallon ziptop plastic bag and seal. Place the bag on top of the pickles making sure that all of them are completely submerged in the brine. Set in a cool, dry place.
Check the crock after 3 days. Fermentation has begun if you see bubbles rising to the top of the crock. After this, check the crock daily and skim off any scum that forms. If scum forms on the plastic bag, rinse it off and return to the top of the crock.
The fermentation is complete when the pickles taste sour and the bubbles have stopped rising; this should take approximately 6 to 7 days. Once this happens, cover the crock loosely and place in the refrigerator for 3 days, skimming daily or as needed. Store for up to 2 months in the refrigerator, skimming as needed. If the pickles should become soft or begin to take on an off odor, this is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.
Benefits of Fermented Foods:
For thousands of years, healthy humans throughout the world used natural fermentation (or lactic acid fermentation) to preserve their vegetables. Since the advent of industrial food production, however, these foods have nearly disappeared. We choose to make raw, naturally fermented pickles because they taste great and because of the many health benefits associated with them:
- ACTIVE CULTURES & ENZYMES
- As with those found in yogurt, cultures & enzymes in traditional pickles are known to support proper digestion, aid in nutrient absorption, contribute to healthy metabolic function, and inhibit harmful microbes in the intestinal system. (1,2)
- LACTIC ACID
- Lactic Acid (the primary by-product of the fermentation) supports the growth of essential intestinal flora, normalizes acid levels in the stomach, helps the body to assimilate proteins and iron, and stimulates cell metabolism. (1,2)
- REDUCTION OF ANTI-NUTRITIONAL COMPOUNDS
- One study found, after fermentation, an 87% reduction of naturally-occurring nitrates in cabbage and a 70% reduction of naturally-occurring oxalic acid in beets. (3)
- IMPROVED NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY
- Natural fermentation breaks down phytates, which block mineral absorption. One study found significantly better absorption of iron by humans from a mix of lactic acid fermented vegetables as compared to the same mix of fresh vegetables. (4)
- 1999 LANCET STUDY:
- Regular consumption of naturally fermented vegetables positively correlated with low rates of asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune disorders among children attending a Waldorf school in Sweden. (1)
- POSSIBLE ANTI-CANCER LINK:
- A 2002 study showed that sauerkraut fermentation produces isothiocyanates, a class of compounds which, in previous studies, appeared to prevent cancer growth in animals. (5)