I experience a Proustian moment every time I bite into a sour pickle that tastes just like the ones my grandmothers used to make. I had never pickled my own cucumbers before, but this summer, I decided to give it a try. I found a handy guide in Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz.
My grandmothers used to describe the food preservation end of summer rite in Poland before the Holocaust. They would harvest cabbages and cucumbers, and then preserve them for the winter months. “Cutting up the cabbages was the hardest,” my Savta Ilana always said. Starting with cabbage was too intimidating for me, so I decided to go with cucumbers.
Adapted from “Wild Fermentation.”
- 4 lbs. unwaxed Kirby cucumbers
- 6 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 fresh chili pepper
- 3 heads of garlic, peeled
- 4 bunches of fresh dill
- 5 fresh grape leaves
- Mix the salt with 8 cups of water.
- Place all the other ingredients in a glass pickling jar.
- Pour the salt water over the cucumbers, making sure to cover them completely.
- Cover the jar loosely with the lid, allowing air to come in.
- Place the jar in a shady place.
Your pickles will be ready in between one and four weeks, depending on how sour you like them. Refrigerate when the desired fermentation level is reached.