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Lacto-Fermented Pickle Chips

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 26 January 2018 at 16:07

Lacto-Fermented Pickle Chips

Last night I started a new project with my "Kraut Kit" from FarmSteady:

http://farmsteady.com/shop/kraut-kit

As we've discussed before, the kit is probably a bit over-priced; but to be honest, after looking up the individual components, I don't think it is too far out of line. A person could cobble something together for much, much less, to be sure, but I like the convenience and the inspiration that comes from following FarmSteady as they try different things.

My previous sauerkraut project turned out really well - even better after some time in the refrigerator - so I figured I would try something new. The kit, of course, can be used to ferment many, many things, so it was a natural step to take; in fact, I suspect that FarmSteady is phasing out the "Kraut Kit" in favour of an identical kit packaged as a "Fermented Vegetable Kit:"

http://farmsteady.com/shop/fermented-vegetable-kit

The instructions are simple:

http://farmsteady.com/fermented-vegetables/

So simple that even I could manage it...almost. I did end up having a couple of minor glitches...more about that, later.

The kit ferments 2 quarts of whatever you want to ferment, so I bought 5 cucumbers for the project, which ended up being really close to the right amount. Everything else that I needed, I already had at home: kosher salt, beautiful, fresh, locally-grown garlic, dried red chile peppers, bay leaves, mustard seed....I didn't have any fresh dill, but I did have dried dill weed, and dill seed, if needed.

After cleaning and laying everything out, I began. I started by roughly chopping the garlic cloves; however, after the first one, I switched to slicing them into "chips," for a better look:

Next, I sliced the cucumbers; I considered slicing them by hand with a knife, but neither my knives nor my knife skills are very good, so I decided to try a tool that my oldest son, Josef, had gotten me for Christmas:

http://a.co/1a4dJ9i

This thing is pretty handy, actually; with the "whirly-bird" blade, I had previously reduced a head of cauliflower to rice in about 15 seconds.

This was the first time that I used the slicer attachment; because I was distracted by something else happening at the moment, I neglected to use the hand guard...and paid the price with a very nasty cut to my pinky finger. Let my mistake be a lesson: ALWAYS USE THE HAND GUARD!

While I tended to my sliced finger, my youngest son, Roger, finished slicing the cucumbers for me:

Five cucumbers seemed like just enough, if anyone is keeping track.

Next, I dissolved 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into 1 quart of warm water:

Strictly following the instructions, I probably should have done this before prepping the cucumbers and garlic, but I am sure that it will be fine.

The instructions didn't specify whether the water should be chlorinated or not; we have a spring south of town, and I could have gotten some water there, but ultimately chose not to. I did have half a litre of spring water on hand, so roughly half of this water was mildly chlorinated. I'm sure it will be fine, but I hope that I don't regret that decision.

Once the salt was dissolved into the water, I started adding the sliced cucumbers to the fermenting jar:

Intermittently, I added some of my garlic, a bay leaf, a broken-up chile pepper and a teaspoon of mustard seeds now and then.

I continued this layering until I ran out of cucumber slices:

Coincidentally, this was right when I reached the top of the jar.

I then topped with a layer of cucumbers:

Next, I added a couple of bay leaves and set the glass fermentation weight into the jar on top of the cucumber slices. I then poured the brine into the jar until the fermentation weight was covered:

After that, I put on the lid, filled the air-lock with sanitizer and set it into the lid:

Did you notice something missing?

I forgot the dill. In fact, I didn't even think about it, until this morning!

I'll add some tonight, when I get home from work; we need to stop by the grocery on the way home, so I will even by some fresh dill. I'm not sure how much would be best to add, as it is a different type of dill than I normally use for my pickles; however, I'll probably be fairly conservative with it for this first attempt. I'll also be sure to add a few dill seeds, which seem to balance the dill weed a bit.

That's pretty much all there is to it!

I put the jar on the top shelf of our bedroom closet, which is currently almost a "normal" and "steady" room temperature, in spite of the winter months in north-central Montana. I'll check it in a week or so, but I suspect that it will be at least two weeks before the pickles are ready - possibly three.

I am expecting some pretty good things to result from this, but we shall see how it goes. If anyone has any feedback, questions or anything else to add, please feel free to chime in.

More as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron



Edited by TasunkaWitko - 08 March 2018 at 13:23
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RobertMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2018 at 19:26
If it doesn't start fermenting in couple of days, you may need to add some lacto. Even a little chlorine combined with the sanitizer supermarket cucumbers are treated with, may leave you a bit short on culture, to get a start.

Many lacto recipes use a small amount of yogurt whey to get them started. Just drain yogurt in cheese cloth, catching the whey that drains off, as a bonus you end up with fresh cream cheese for your toast.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2018 at 10:09

Originally posted by Robert Robert wrote:

Even a little chlorine combined with the sanitizer supermarket cucumbers are treated with, may leave you a bit short on culture, to get a start.

Hi, Robert -

This is exactly what I was worried about; As for the water - I should have bitten the bullet and gotten some spring water. So far, though, it looks like things have gotten off to one heck of a strong start. When I added the dill the next day, there was definitely some fermentation starting; the airlock was working, albeit very slowly, and you could sense that the cucumbers were beginning their transformation. Since then, it has been going like gangbusters.

I went pretty conservatively with the dill because I wasn't able to stop and get some fresh stuff. I ended up using dried dill weed and some dill seeds. It tends to be pretty strong stuff, so I tried a couple of teaspoons, for now. I'm guessing I can add a little more later on, if need be.

These cucumbers are store-bought, unfortunately - as you know, here in subzero (Siberia) Montana, it's the only option, right now. I'm not too fond of the little "gherkin" types, but the "salad" cucumbers are generally good enough for me, with minimum processing (about 5 minutes in a boiling water bath). I normally use fresh cucumbers from the garden or the Hutterites and get great results out of them with a salt/vinegar brine, so I figured these would at least be worth a try for this method. These cucumbers did have some sort of waxy coating on them; I tried to gently brush most of it off - we'll see if I was successful.

I've got a package of seeds for Ukrainian cucumbers, and am looking forward to growing some this year for use with this method.

Anyway, because of those factors, I do expect these pickles to be "not crisp" - I'm hoping that they aren't full-on mush, but we'll see. Oak leaves can be a huge help in this regard. I've also heard that grape leaves work well, and cherry leaves are used in Romania. Unfortunately, none of these grow here.

Regarding the kit itself, I mentioned above that it seems overpriced at first; however, a friend and I were discussing this and looking at it objectively, it really doesn't fit into the category of "over-priced." For one thing, I've priced the individual components out on the internet, and it comes close to what I paid for this. Also, when you consider the reusable equipment it contains, the first batch of kraut would have cost $35 (plus the price of the cabbage). When this batch of pickles is finished, the cost will be $17.50 per batch. And so forth, as I amortize the cost of the kit.

I'm really looking forward to experimenting more with this lacto-fermentation project, so that I can learn to gauge the timeline, method etc.; and, If I'm lucky, I'll get some decent enough pickle chips out of it to snack on or use with meals.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RobertMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2018 at 13:51
If it's bubbling away, it had enough good bugs, to get it going. Most likely, like sourdough, it will have local flavor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 February 2018 at 10:35

It was a busy weekend, but I did get to sample a couple of these pickles and found them to be very good. The "pickled" flavor was right on point, with good garlic presence and a bit of heat from the peppers, but not too much. The dill itself seemed to be just about right, too.

As far as texture, the pickles were much, much less mushy than I expected. They had a bit of crunch to them and were about the same as what I expect from home-canned pickles made with regular" cucumbers and processed in a hot water bath. Not crunchy, by any means, but not mushy, either, at all.

I let them ride through the weekend and will probably put them in pint-sized jars tonight, then into the refrigerator.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RobertMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 February 2018 at 19:03
We don't have long enough season, to get much for cucumbers, but zucchini and summer squash, make pretty decent pickles. I add fresh grape leaves, it's supposed to keep them more crunchy than dried bay leaves. I don't really like the lime or alum, many use for crunch, in cooked pickles. Cherry leaves are reported to also work, a few choke cherry leaves, might be work looking into.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 February 2018 at 09:18
I tried that "Pickle Crisp" that is sold in the stores (for pickles that are vinegar-brined and processed), but never noticed any real difference.
 
In all honesty, these ones that I've made seem pretty good, as far as texture goes; I was expecting much worse. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2018 at 11:43

After 12 days of fermenting, I checked on my pickles Tuesday night, 6 February. The temperatures can be a bit cooler in our house, so I figured that the extra time (compared to 5 - 7 days recommended) wouldn't hurt.

The pickles looked to be on schedule, as much as I can tell with my limited experience; it seemed to me that the initial fermentation was complete.

and they tasted good. The flavours were all present, with strong garlic and subtle dill that made itself known without taking over. The "crunchiness" was far better than I expected, but by no means awesome. They were, however, quite acceptable in my opinion; no worse than any other home-made pickles, with a much better and more authentic flavor than store-bought pickles.

There was some of the fermentation "tang" in the flavor, but not too much. It seemed to me that this is something that needed to develop, a hypothesis that was supported by the mottled appearance of the pickle chips. The photo shown here confirmed that there is plenty of "development" that still needs to be done:


Photo Credit: http://www.pickl-it.com/images/490.jpg

I put the pickles into jars and into the back of the refrigerator; I'll check them again in a few weeks, and see what I end up with.

I suspect that the flavours will develop and deepen, and that I'll be pretty happy with the results.

More later!

Ron

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2018 at 12:11
An update on these -

They remain quite good, and in fact have improved as they "mature" in the refrigerator. The lacto-fermented flavor is predominate, along with the garlic; in fact, I've decided I probably used a little too much garlic, which is a thing I never thought I would say. The pickles have a real "raw" garlic aspect to them that isn't bad, but it does take over a little.

It seems as though I could have used a bit more salt, and definitely would have benefitted from more dill. I'll keep better track of this, next time.

The pickles remain pretty darn crisp and "crunchy" - I've decided that there are no worries in that department.

I'll make these again, either in chips again or as spears - or something. I'm not a fan of the tiny "gherkin" cucumbers, but in all honesty they might be perfect for this. Whatever cucumbers I use, I'll incorporate the tweaks mentioned above, and see what I end up with.

In the meantime, this is worth trying, for sure - if you are on the fence about giving it a go, my suggestion is to just jump right in.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 March 2018 at 13:22

Important note:

In my opening post, I wrote this:

Quote Next, I dissolved 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into two quarts of warm water:

This is incorrect; it should read:

Quote Next, I dissolved 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into 1 quart of warm water:

I have edited the post to reflect this, but wanted to call attention to the error.

Ron

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 March 2018 at 14:03
Another note - Last night, I did add a (generous) pinch of kosher salt to the jar of pickles I was sampling, and this, to me, brought everything together really well, with almost just the right balance that I had been expecting from the beginning. The garlic seemed to be put in its place, and while it was still lacking the amount of dill I would prefer, the "brine" and the pickles themselves were absolutely scrumptious.

Edited by TasunkaWitko - 08 March 2018 at 14:04
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