Legend would have it, two years ago the ADAMAH, Jewish Environmental Fellowship at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, had an overabundance of cucumbers. One of the Fellows, Zelig Golden (also the co-chair of this conference) was unhappy with simply composting the unused vegetables and began making pickles from the extra veggies. Pickling is really about preserving – extending the harvest and gaining additional nutritional value of eating fermented food (lactobacillus is good for you). Today ADAMAH Fellows sell their preserved products such as kimchi, sauerkraut and of course their pickles in local grocery stores and at the local CSA. (More about ADAMAH here)
This afternoon conference participants gathered with two ADAMAH alumni, Eli Marguiles and Blair Nosan to share stories about their love of pickles – everything from finding that perfect pickle that makes the sandwich to how pickles have empowered Palestinian women in Israel. But more importantly people wanted to learn how to make pickles!
Here is a little bit of video of Blair and Eli from their demonstration (sorry, the volume is a little low). Their recipe for dill pickles is after the jump and check out some more of ADAMAH’s amazing lacto-fermented products!
Everything You Need to Know to be a Pickling Pro
The vital period of fermentation takes place over the first three days of fermentation. That is when the microorganism are creating the first burst of lactic acid – thereby setting up the environment for the future and establishing an environment that is not at risk of spoilage.
Temperature – not too hot and not too cold. When you are fermenting, the temperature around your jar needs to be within a range of the bacteria’s preference, which is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold and the spoilage microorganism might suddenly be favored, too much above 80 degrees and you will get off flavors and keeping value suffers.
As a general rule, veggies with a higher sugar content, higher moisture or less fiber take less time to ferment. Lower sugar lower moisture and higher fiber take more time to ferment.
Eli and Blair’s Dill Pickles
What you will need
1 Quart jar (with lid)
2 T sea salt (small grain)
hot and cold water
1 T spice mix
3-4 whole cloves garlic
4 sprigs or dill or 1 dill flower
As many pickling cucumbers as fit comfortably in the jar (use a smaller variety of cuke, the fresher the better! Going to the store and buying shelf produce probably won’t give you the best pickle, because of freshness)
How to turn cucumbers into pickles
Measure salt and pour into bottom of jar. Add hot water, as little as possible, and stir until salt dissolves. Fill 55% of the jar with cold water. Add spices, garlic and dill to the salt water. Add your cucumbers (pack them in strategically, medium sized on the bottom, smaller ones on top). Add “toppers” so that the pickles are completely submerged. Cover jar with lid or cloth – but do not seal.
Allow cucumbers to ferment in a warm (above 50 degrees) environment. After 24 hours you have a half-sour pickle! Depending on how sour you want it, you can continue to ferment and keep checking daily. We ferment our full sour dills for one week. Once you are happy with the flavor, stick the jar with the lid tightened now, in the fridge. Refrigeration will stop the fermentation process, if you take them out of the fridge they’ll begin to ferment again.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t tighten the lid while fermenting as the pressure will build up and your container can explode!