There are many ways to make pickles. In times past, different vegetables were lacto-fermented as a way to preserve them from the time of harvest through the winter, or for a long journey. Lacto-fermenting is a type of pickling that increases the beneficial bacteria in a food and is therefore good for the health of your digestive system. Think yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Recently there has been a big push towards eating more lacto-fermented foods.
Another way to pickle is with a salt and vinegar and water mix that can give a similar flavor and preservation value, but without the same beneficial bacteria. Many people think of cucumbers or peppers when they think of this type of pickle, but you can pickle a whole lot of different vegetables.
We usually pickle several different types of cucumbers, green,purple, and yellow beans, along with garlic and onions and sometimes carrots. We also like to make sauerkraut and want to try making kimchi. We follow a traditional recipe for sauerkraut, but for cucumbers and other vegetables we use our own pickling recipe that I think of as half and half. Half lacto-fermentation, and half vinegar pickle.
Half and Half Pickles
- In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables that you want to pickle. An easy mix to start with is thin sliced cucumbers and thin sliced onions. Or you may want to try green beans and onions.
- Sprinkle your vegetables with 2 tsp salt for each quart of vegetable and mix in well.
- Cover with a clean cloth and allow the vegetables to sweat out some of their moisture for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Drain off the water that is in the bowl, and pack the vegetables into your pickling crock, canning jar or container. Cover with water, sprinkle with salt (1 tsp per quart), and allow to lacto-ferment at room temperature for a few days covered with a loose lid or cloth to prevent contamination. Place on a tray to collect any brine water that spills over due to the fermentation process.
- After a few days, pour off half of the salt brine in the jar and replace with vinegar pickling solution to cover. The vinegar pickling solution I use is 2 parts raw apple cider vinegar, 1 part maple syrup, 1 part water and a tsp of salt per quart. Close with lid and place in cool place or refrigeration to allow flavors to blend.
- These pickles stay good in refrigeration all winter. No matter how many we make we tend to run out by March.
For better details on lacto-fermenting vegetables and pickling, there are many great books that focus on specific instructions and recipes. A quick search at any online bookseller will give you plenty to choose from. Following are a few that you may like. Each coming from a slightly different perspective on fermenting/pickling.
- Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes by the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivante
- Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in, Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes and Pastes by Kirsten K. Shockey snd Christopher Shockey
- Wild Fermentation and/or The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz
- Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
We had some leftover lotus root that we didn’t want to go bad, so we mixed it up with some carrots,radishes and garlic and used the recipe above to pickle it. At the end we added some dill for flavor. It’s not bad for an on-the-spot pickle.
If you have a book to suggest or a pickling recipe that you like, share it with us in the comments below.