Fermented Cucumbers

I’ve loved cucumber pickles since I was a kid. Fermentation takes them to a new level. Get fermented vegetable recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I’ve loved pickles since I was a kid. My mom put dozens of jars of dill and “sweet” (bread-and-butter) pickles through a water bath every year, and I’d sneak them like they were potato chips. But the longer the pickles sat, the less chip-like crunch they gave. Over the years, I’ve played with ingredients and canning techniques that have helped. Then I discovered fermentation.

Think about it: Cucumbers are best fresh and raw. Putting them in hot water is bound to affect their texture. Fermentation replaces heat with time and vinegar with salt. No wonder the result is crisper and fresher. And the flavoring possibilities—from dill to tea—are endless.

If you’ve never run a fermentation, I suggest you check out my introductory post from earlier this month. But here are the basics: Start with everything clean and fresh. Monitor the batch daily so that you can see the process. If you have doubts, give it the toss and start again.
Learn to make Fermented Dill Pickles and Fermented Tea Pickles

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Quick Ferments

When vegetables are sliced or pureed before fermentation, it’s easy to use them straight from the jar. Get veggie ferment recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
If you’re new to vegetable fermentation, you likely look at recipes and think, “Can it be that easy?” This instantly leads to the terrifying thought, “It can’t; surely I’ll get it wrong.” So to kick off this month’s recipes for vegetable ferments, I offer my most foolproof recipe for your first foray into fermentation. Here, the carrots actually aren’t fully fermented; they sit barely long enough to kick off the process. Still, they use a lot of the techniques that apply to full fermentation of other vegetables: salting, weighting to encourage the carrots to release even liquid, and a rest period to pull even more water and sugars from the produce. Because these carrots are prepared as thin ribbons, it’s easy to open the jar and slide a few onto a sandwich, into a sourdough pita, or straight into your mouth. The recipe is so simple that while you’re at it, you might as well prepare your own horseradish to go in the jar—especially if you’re growing it.
Learn to make Barely Fermented Carrots and Horseradish Paste

Tomatoes

Hopefully you were swayed by my argument for grilling vegetables last month. In this week’s recipes, the grilled flavor shines. The salsa has evolved over the years from fresh to roasted and finally to grilled. We get more compliments for it than for anything else we process, and no matter how much we put up each year, our stash barely lasts to the next canning season.

The grilling creates intense flavor, but it also lets you stretch out the process to suit both your harvest and your schedule. We harvest and grill the ingredients as they come ripe, separating the tomato juice and solids. Then we stash everything in the freezer until we have enough for at least one full canner batch. It’s also a fabulous recipe for a canning party, particularly when paired with a tasty beverage to celebrate your hard work. Learn to make Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa and Grilled Tomato Bloody Mary Mix

Snap Beans

If this is your first attempt at water bath canning, I highly recommend pickled snap beans. It’s hard to mess them up: simply prepare your beans like you would to eat them fresh, heat up a vinegar brine, and pop everything in a canning jar. I find them even easier than cucumber pickles, primarily because extra prep steps and even fermenting are required to get the maximum crispness of cukes. With snap beans, crispness is guaranteed as long as you start with crisp beans. They’re also forgiving of your schedule; if pressed for time, you can harvest one day, snap the next, and process the third, keeping them in the refrigerator between steps.

When most people think of pickled beans, they think “dilly,” but it’s easy to play with the flavors. One of my favorite variations was inspired by Liana Krissoff’s wasabi-pickled beans in Canning for a New Generation. I’ve altered her flavors slightly so that I can use the horseradish that grows weed-like in my garden. Learn to make Definitely Dilly Beans and Asian-Style Pickled Beans