Yes, you read that correctly, I have declared the pickles I made as the Best Pickles EVER!
These are real dill pickles made the old fashioned way, they way they were made for generations before we became a germ-a-phobe society. Real dill pickles are made with pro-biotics, beneficial bacteria and time. No vinegar was used, nor water bath canning, these are real dill pickles made by pro-biotic lacto-fermentation.
When I was a kid, we lived near a real deliciously awesome Jewish deli. The pickles there were divine, I loved them, I could not get enough of them. I craved these pickles, They were pickles made by lacto-fermentation, but I did not know that at the time. Then, I remember begging my mom to get pickles for the house from the grocery store. I promised her I would eat them over time, and not waste them. So, she bought jarred pickles from the grocery store made in vinegar and salt. They were not the same as the pickles I craved, they were flat, one note, too vinegary sour, too salty, flabby, and just wrong. So, for decades, I searched for the dill pickle of my youth for decades. And like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, I realized all my hopes and heart's desire are right here at home. That is, right here at home, I can easily make my own dill pickles.
To make real dill pickles I used the time tested true method of fermentation which Sandor Katz
and Alan from the Barefoot Farmer
have written about. Here is my method following their method:
1. Get a couple clean glass jars, like old pickle jars or tomato sauce and wash them like regular dishes, no need to sterilize in a water bath.
2. Get 2 lbs of local cucumbers from the farmer's market (non-waxed). Do not use cukes from the grocery store because those are waxed, and it is impossible to remove all the wax without bruising and ruining the cuke.
3. Get a handful of fresh grape leaves or oak leaves by walking through a tree lined neighbor hood. Do not use jarred grape leaves.
4. Get a small onion, couple of garlic cloves, and fresh dill if you can, but dried dill will work too.
5. Make a cold water brine 5-6 tablespoons of salt (non-iodized) to 1/2 gallon of water (tap is fine)
6. Get plastic, glass or ceramic disks that fit into the top of the jars. I use a cut out piece of plastic water bottle with the plastic water bottle lid
1. In clean jars, put 2 or 3 oak or grape leaves at the bottom
2. Add thinly sliced garlic and onion, and a few shakes of dill
3. Add sliced cucumber
4. Add thinly sliced garlic, onion and a few shakes of dill
5. Add 2 or 3 oak or grape leaves on top
6. Pour cold water brine into the jars to fill it to nearly the top
7. Place a disk (plastic disk for me) on top to keep the cukes submerged
8. Loosely lid the jars (to keep bugs out) and leave on the counter for 2-3 days
9. Each day, open the jar and make sure the cukes are submerged and taste a slice
10. After about 2-3 days you should have pickles in a now slight yellow brine
11. Screw the lid on tight and put in the fridge
12. Enjoy for the days, weeks and months to come
The process is that the salt water condition enhances the presences of lactobacilli bacteria which makes lactic acid, and the lactic acid then pickles the cucumbers. Lactobacilli is a pro-biotic and quite healthy for you.
One word of caution, if mold, bad smell, or badness occurs in your jar, DO NOT EAT IT, throw it out. This is not lacto-fermention it is something bad, and should not be eaten. IF, the liquid is nice and no mold, and the pickles are irresistible, then THAT is lacto-fermentation and you can go ahead and enjoy your pickles. My pickles lasted 2 days in the fridge, and we ate them all.