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Dill Pickle Gear

This is my fifth year in a row making the wild-fermented, dill pickles that are also known as kosher sours. The unusual process (at least for our refrigerator-happy era) depends on leaving food at room temperature for a couple weeks so [there are some unusual challenges that have to be met.] This year I fine-tuned the equipment setup and I’d like to share my changes in the hope that you may find them useful.

The detail here is pretty intense and falls into the “nice-to-know-but-not-necessary” category. If you’re new to wild-fermented pickling have a look at my recipe for Wild Dill Pickles, or at the recipes for year-round favourites Pickled Turnips, and Small-batch Spicy Sauerkraut. If you’re looking to refine your dill pickling technique head over to pickle troubleshooting post.¬† (more…)

Bread and Butter Pickles

Quite the impressive yield of jars of bread and butter pickles.

Anyone who has stopped by this space over the past few summers knows that I’m a fermented pickle guy. I like my cucumbers to have that mellow hum of lactic acid, the twin funk of garlic and dill, and a salty bass line. This year I got a full bushel of cucumbers for pickles and have been convinced to split a quarter of them off for bread and butter pickles. (more…)

Wild Pickled Turnips

The purple-hued pickles are at about the halfway point when this was taken.

The purple-hued pickles are at about the halfway point when this was taken.

I’m fascinated by the idea of preserving food by wild fermentation so I decided to give pickled turnips a shot. ¬†Most natural pickling calendars start in early August when the cucumbers come in and then really pick up steam through September when the rush is on to make kimchi and sauerkraut from the year’s cabbage and radish crop.

(The quick review: vegetables–whole or cut–are submerged in a salty brine and kept at room temperature. Over the course of days to a few weeks the lactobacilli from the air, water in the brine, or the vegetables themselves consume the sugar in the vegetables and convert it to lactic acid. The salt in the brine and the this acid both protect the vegetables from spoiling and make them much more delicious.) (more…)

Pickled Spruce Tips

Young spruce tips with their papery husks still attached in places.

Forbes Wild Foods is a unique source for a wide variety of foraged Canadian edibles. Frankly, though, some of their prices are a little steep so I have to admit that instead of buying from them I’ve borrowed ideas from their website or market table that inspire my own foraging. Most recently, I gathered spruce tips and used them to make the pickled spruce tips recipe below.

Spruce trees grow upwards in the usual, obvious way but because they don’t drop and regenerate their needles every year the outward growth is a bit more complicated. Every spring the tip of almost every branch has a bud-like tip that sheds a papery brown husk and produces a new bunch of needles. (more…)

Small-batch Spicy Sauerkraut

Spicy Small-batch Sauerkraut

Other than marmalade in all its various forms January and February don’t offer many opportunities for preserving. It’s also the time when lacto-fermented preserves that have been moved to the fridge are starting either to run out or go off.

This week I ate the last of this year’s batch of Wild Pickles. Seems like a strange thing to be wistful about, I guess, but I was proud of them because not only did I really like how they tasted (strongly sour but backed with lots of garlic, dill, and black pepper) but also because they won the People’s Choice award in the amateur category for the Annual 86′d Monday Pickle Battle. It’s not everyday that you get to call yourself a pickle champ.

Coincidentally, I’ve been poking around a book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig that my cousin turned me on to. It’s peppered with some pretty strong claims that I want to look into more but there are also some very interesting recipes. (more…)