Sun-fermented dill pickles

sharberJune 30, 2009

A friend was relating a method of preparing dill pickles which gave her "the best dill pickles I've ever eaten." The only problem is she couldn't find the directions to make them and the man she originally got the recipe from is deceased. The cucumbers are put into a large glass jar with the pickling ingredients (no quantity remembered),covered with a slice of rye bread and set in the sun until they foam (ferment). Don't know how long. Has anyone out there ever heard of this method? I would really like to get some specific directions to do this.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

It would be mostl likely a fermented pickle, or a half sour. The subject has just been discussed here in length. You start with pickling salt and water in a large jar or crock and mentioned in the other posts. Add fresh dill weed and dill seed heads, and garlic. Then add trimmed ends pickling cukes. About the rye bread, that may be an old wives tale as its supposed to help introduce a wild yeast, but once bread is baked its yeasts are dead. The fermenting in summer and in direct sun is a bit much, and should not be heated as it can cause the fermentation to either stop or go bad prematurely.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:33PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The fermenting guidelines detailed by NCHFP (linked below) may be of some help to you. Be sure to review the General Guidelines and the Problems section as various bacteria including listeria, yeasts, and molds can be a real problem with fermented items - especially in too hot of an environment.

Honestly I'd be really surprised if sun fermentation was considered safe to do but I have no actual knowledge about it.

Since the acidity level is so important it is going to be difficult for you without an actual recipe. The NCHFP recipe for Fermented Dills gets good reviews. Good luck.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Fermentation Guidelines

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:53PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

In Eastern Europe rye bread is used atop fermenting cucumbers because it attracts yeasts. Of course it's optional, but it does no harm and certainly can be used.

I have a feeling the sun part of the process is from a more northern climate where the temperatures may be less extreme. I personally don't see any advantage between fermenting pickles outside and fermenting them inside as long as the temperatures fall within the recommended range.

But you know, many of these traditional methods do work one way or another, so as Dave mentioned, just follow the guidelines and do them outside with rye bread atop. It can't hurt (as long as you keep the bugs out).

Carol

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 12:58AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

brine: 5.5 ounces by weight of pickling salt to one gallon of water.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:11PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I had forgotten about this article which does explain why major companies do ferment pickles outside. It makes for interesting reading. About halfway down on the right-hand column.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Fascinating Pickle Facts

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 8:24PM
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tom1941_2009

This recipe works for me every time.

Stuff you'll need: A wide-mouth one-gallon glass jar with a tight fitting lid, 4 pounds fresh pickling cukes, cold well water, vinegar, canning salt, dill, garlic, hot pepper (optional).

Rinse the cukes under cold water. Slice 1/8" of blossom end off each cuke (this keeps pickles from going soft). Fill jar with cukes, layering in several heads of dill & several cloves of diced garlic. If you like a little bite to your pickles, add one or more cut-up hot peppers, seeds and all. Add 3 Tbs. vinegar and 6 Tbs. canning salt. Fill jar with cold well water. Place some plastic-wrap over the mouth of the jar and secure lid tightly. Now grasp the jar with both hands and slowly turn it upside down, then rightside up; do this several times until all the salt is dissolved. The pickles will be ready in about 2-3 weeks depending on temperature. You can speed up the process by placing the jar outside where the sun will shine on it. The brine will become cloudy which is the normal formation of lactic acid and nothing to worry about.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:55PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The same process of fermenting cukes has been discussed in great detail here. Well water is ok, if its not high in calcium, iron or other minerals. Some have had bad luck with fermented cukes only because the water quality was not up to par. Boiling the water first will only concentrate the minerals and make it worse. I add the vinegar after the half fermemtation which is in 2-3 days. If I add it before then, it will cause the brine not to produce the proper amount of lactic acid necessary for proper taste and fermentation.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:51PM
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tom1941_2009

Actually the purpose of the vinegar is to bring the water pH down to neutral (7.0) before starting the process. Most well water (and municipal water for that matter) has a pH above 7.0. In other words, if you were to start out with distilled water, no vinegar would be required. I agree that water with lots of minerals should be avoided.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:16AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My water here is at 6.8 pH right out of the tap and is quite soft. The vinegar is added to a fermented pickle brine to stop it from fermenting further. I add it after 3 days in my half sours. These are also less salty compared to fully fermented ones.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 10:29AM
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tom1941_2009

Is your "half sour" recipe posted? I'd like to try making a batch.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 12:12PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

There are many posts and threads about the half sours. They are slightly translucent and crisper than fully fermented ones. I use the same ratio of pickling salt, or Mrs. Wages dill pickle mix, and add fresh dill weed and seed heads and cut up garlic. Its left for only 3 days at room temps of 75 degrees. Then the tablespoon or two of vinegar is added and its placed in the fridge. With the Mrs. Wages mix, it doesn't form any mold or scum on the surface, even after a whole year. I like the extra dill taste of teh Mrs Wages mixes. Currently, I am down to two pickles that were made last summer, and am eagerly waiting for some fresh picklers for this years batch of three half gallon jars.

For many years of making these, I was able to taste the salt water brine to get to the proper level. I learned how to get that taste from my Polish grandmother who made these every summer. I remember a big gallon jar filled with them until my grandfather was home for lunch. The taste method was easy to get to. It required several tasts after dissolving salt in water. Too little salt and its salty tasting, too much salt and its bitter. The right amount of salt is when you taste it and your mouth starts to water. Start off with amall pint size brine mixture and see if you can get to that same sweet like taste. The Alton Brown measurments are OK if your not wanting to experement. Just be sure to add enough salt as if its too low, the cukes will soften and spoil before fermentation starts. Once they have that natural fermented lactic acid, its almost like it tastes like vinegar instead of salt and water.

Here is a link that might be useful: Links to half sour threads.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 2:35PM
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tom1941_2009

Thanks, I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 4:12PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

If anyone else has tried the half sours, let me know how it went. I enjoy these moreso than any other pickle type as they aways bring back memories of my grandmother and her old kitchen in VT, and grampas bakery next door to the house.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 11:19PM
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kerryp-treegal

Ken, I made some half sours last year after reading many of your post w/ instructions. They were great! I can't wait to make them again this year! If only my cuke plants would hurry up!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 10:51AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Me too. O have no cukes yet as my plants are only a foot tall now. At least its getting warmer outside and IO am now seeing the first of the tassle tops of my corn plants to. Lat year I made three half gallon jars of them and will probably make the same amount this year, minus some dill seed heads. I still like using the Mrs. Wages dill pickle mixes as opposed to just pickling salt. It helps to prevent scum and mold on the brine surface. Mine keep a year in the fridge and I still have two pickles left from last summer.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:14PM
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WendingWay

The method you are describing - where cukes in brine topped with bread are set out in a jar in the sun - is exactly that of Hungarian "kovászos uborka," which when I lived in Hungary, were produced in abundance by virtually every family on my street. If you google "kovászos uborka pickles," you will find all sorts of recipes in English, like this one http://www.timvidraeats.com/2012/07/hungarian-kovaszos-uborka-sour-pickles.html. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 10:42AM
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