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Pickles, the other kind

Regular readers will recall that a while back I make a batch of dill pickles – the preserved kind, not the naturally fermented kind. We gave away several jars of these, and I’ve been gobbling up the ones we kept for ourselves. We’re down to about half a jar and there are still some very good pickling cucumbers available, so I thought what the heck, I might as well try to make a batch of the fermented ones. These are usually known as kosher dills, and while I know nothing to speak of about Jewish dietary law, it seems to me the name refers to the traditional, naturally fermented approach, rather than being actually kosher. (if you know about these things, please comment and teach me a thing or two).

What do I know about fermenting dills? Why, nothing at all of course. At one time making pickles would be something we would learn from our elders. In today’s insta-society, it’s easy to simply refer to the squillion videos up on YouTube, with instructions to do anything at all.

Still, I suspect YouTube might not always tell me everything, and I’m hoping those of you out there with some experience with this kind of fermentation can offer up some tips, and let me know what pitfalls to avoid. On the surface, it looks easy, but I have questions.

  • Is tap water ok or should I be using water that has no chlorine?
  • Can you use any salt that is not iodized?
  • Is it true that adding bay leaves helps keep them crunchy or is that a myth?
  • Is it true the ends of the cucumbers should be cut off because there is an enzime there which will make your pickles mushy?
  • How often do you need to skim the surface of the croc?
  • I’ve read some people don’t add pickling spices to their kosher dills, and just use the salt, garlic cloves, hot peppers and peppercorns. Anyone have any experience with this? Somewhere I read to avoid cloves.
  • Any other tips?

I will report on progress. If this goes well, maybe I’ll try making kim chi next.


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