I have made it quite a few times now and now feel like qualified to give a recipe. Fermenting is so quick and easy that you won’t stop doing it. So far, I have only experimented with cucumbers due to enormous crop of these greens and the fact that nobody wants them here in Galicia even for free (I know, unbelievable!).
Fermenting is also a very healthy way of eating vegetables. Currently foodies are obsessed with fermenting, and there is a lot of buzz about it on the net. But in fact, fermenting is a very old, ancient even, way to preserve food which came about out of necessity. In Nordic countries people were fermenting for centuries and continue doing so now, although it is a lot more popular as everyone getting very health-conscious.
As a child, I vaguely remember by aunties getting together at the end of the summer and preserving the crop from my grandma’s garden. I wouldn’t remember the process so I had to turn to Mr. Google.
After much research I came to conclusion that less is more, and so I use only sea salt as a fermenting agent. All you need is small to medium size cucumbers, no more than 10 cm long and organic if possible (I use organic cucumbers from my garden of course), chlorine-free water (bottled or spring water), sea salt (the best quality you can afford), garlic (1-2 cloves), 10-12 black peppercorns, fresh of dry dill (replace with bay leaves if you don’t like or have dill), and a very important ingredient – 6-8 fresh leaves of either grapes or red/black currants or even dry loose tea (naturally, I use grape leaves from our organic vineyard). The last ingredient is absolutely necessary for fermenting process as this is what keeps your cucumbers crisp and bacteria-free.
For 2 liter glass jar you will need about 900 ml of water and 2 (not heaped) table spoons of salt. Now, salt is a very thing that does the actual fermenting. For my very first jar I used a recipe which recommended 2.5 to 3 tb spoons of salt. Way too salty! So I have adjusted, and after several experiments came to 2 not full tb spoons decision. Besides, we avoid too much salt in any case. It also depends on your salt. Some salt is a lot ‘saltier’ than other. So, even if you don’t know your salt, start with 2 tb spoons for your first jar, and next time you’ll know and adjust accordingly.
The process is simple: wash your cucumbers and fresh leaves. If your cucumbers are not too fresh and a bit limp, leave them in water for 2 hours. It is said that flower ends can spoil your fermenting, so remove them properly and trim the ends. Then in a clean glass jar place a few grape leaves on the bottom. Add some peppercorns and 1 peeled clove of garlic. First place the larger cucumbers vertically in the jar, tightly together. Cover with more grape leaves and add dill. Then place smaller cucumbers on top in every way you can fit them in a jar but don’t be too greedy and leave at least 2 cm to the rim. Add remaining peppercorns, another clove of garlic and remaining dill somewhere between the cucumbers. By now you had to mix well in another bowl/measuring jar your bottled water with salt until completely dissolved. Now pour this salt solution into your jar and make sure that cucumbers are completely covered with water but 1cm from the rim.
Now just place larger remaining grape leaves to cover the surface of the jar completely.
Fill with remaining salt solution to the rim of the jar and screw the top. That’s it!
Leave it in your kitchen somewhere in a dark corner. All you have to do now is ‘burp’ the jar once a day meaning opening and closing the jar to let the bubbles out (bubbles is a sign of fermenting process going on). Now, it should take 2 to 3 days for fermenting to complete. It was so in my case. After that you can start eating them but keep the jar in a fridge. If you are not eating them on a daily basis, keep burping now and again, and your cucumbers will be crisp and only very slightly salty for up to 4 months in a fridge.
How easy is that?? Fermented cucumbers are delicious as an antipastis, in/with a sandwich, in salsa and much more! They are a lot healthier than gherkins in vinegar and actually good for your gut. I just wish we had a larger fridge… Bon appetite!