Gherkin time! One of the best times of the year, I would say. Firstly because there are cucumbers to ferment, and secondly because gherkin time is summer vacation time 🙂 And summer vacation is definitely my favorite season.
Pickles are an absolute classic among the wild ferments and are not difficult to prepare at all. They are also very popular with children. That's why I always make an infinite number of fermented cucumbers, in containers from 1 liter to 4 liters.
The recipe is for a 4 liter flip top jar.
- approx. 1.5 kg fresh pickling gherkins
- 1 bunch of fresh dill
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 5 redcurrant leaves
- 2 packages pickle spice
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- 1 red chili pepper
- 1 red onion
- 1 white onion
- 1 piece of ginger
- 70 gr. salt to 2 liters H2O (3.5% salt content)
Of course, you can also pick the spices individually according to taste. Normally I do this when I am cooking. With cukes, however, the ready-made spice mixtures taste so good that I see no reason to copy them and happily buy them off the shelf (the one from Ostmann tastes best to me by far). If for some reason I would put the spices together myself, I would need for the 4-liter vessel
- 3 tbsp. mustard seed
- 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. allspice grains
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 5 bay leaves
First, put the cukes in ice water for 10-20 minutes. This helps to maintain the crunchiness.
The spice mixture is placed at the bottom of the glass so that the small parts do not float and provide a surface for mold to attack above the brine.
Then add the peeled garlic cloves and the quartered, peeled onions, the chili pepper freed from the stalk, the currant leaves and the unpeeled ginger. Finally, put the fresh herbs on top. Nothing gets past the herb barrier, so that the small seeds and spices are kept down.
You can put the cucumbers upright on it. If the cucumbers are close enough to jam, you don't need a weight. Otherwise, you should put a clay or glass weight on top to keep the cucumbers under the brine.
Currant leaves, by the way, are added not for flavor, but because they help keep the crunchiness of the cucumbers, due to their tannin content. I've also used cherry leaves many times, and they work fabulously. Vine leaves work just as well. Just use whatever you can find in the garden or park. The further away from exhaust emissions, the more appealing.
Full Sours & Half Sours
A great alternative for quick gherkins and/or hot summer days are Full Sours. These are pickled gherkins that are prepared with 5% brine. Actually, I like them almost even better than the regular 3.5% cukes, which are also known as Half Sours.
But no matter which salinity you choose, onions and dill have to go into the jar. You can vary everything else and find out what you like best.
In the summer of 2020, I once made a variation with shiso leaves. The cukes turned slightly pink and have a very delicate taste of the peppery, herbal flavor of the shiso leaves. You should definitely try this too if you can get your hands on shiso. I plant shiso in my garden every year because I love cooking with it so much.
How long do sour cucumbers need to ferment?
You can eat the pickles with 5% salinity from day 7 on, the less salty ones I like to let ferment for 3-4 weeks.
After opening the jar to nibble on the first gherkins, I fill the rest into screw jars and put them in a cold place (5-8 °C). Then they will last at least 4 months. They have never made it longer with me... 😋 I have the justified suspicion that they could easily hold out for 12 months. After all, fermentation is a preservation process.