Old and New: In a Pickle

 

pickle fermentation2021 puts conservatives and anyone right of Jane Fonda in a pickle. Some very bad old ideas are back in new and far more weaponized forms. Yet, the future does not ultimately belong to the left, nor need the next few years. We can bend the arc of history with time and effort. Speaking of time and effort, let’s talk pickles.

I grew up in a family that had a large vegetable garden every year, yard space provided. This necessarily led to freezing and canning. For whatever reason, cucumbers were never, to my memory, a part of my mother’s garden. We had plenty of squash, and tomatoes in places where they would ripen. Zucchini squash was shredded and packed into small freezer containers for use all through the winter months, hopefully used up just about when the next season’s crop was small, tender squash. Tomatoes went into larger Mason jars as stewed tomatoes, or chutney or governor’s sauce for meat. It took me a few decades to follow the family canning tradition.

I started canning about three years ago, driven by a surplus of lemons from a friend’s lemon tree and a desire to reproduce a tomato jelly recipe I had discovered at a microbrewery. I like good beer and started home brewing after my initial Army tour in West Germany, when it was West Germany. Put a pin in the home brewing. Accordingly, I also like trying new small breweries’ products. The Sleepy Dog Brewery had a tasting room at the front end of their brewery and food trucks on high volume nights. This included a pizza oven trailer, supplemented with pretzel dough buns topped with cream cheese and tomato jelly. So, a great deal on the right kind of tomatoes merged with a recipe search, generating my first batch of tomato jelly.

At the same time, I turned lemons into lemon marmalade. The first batch was far too dark and included the seeds, that failed to soften. I solved that issue with a second run that used packaged pectin instead of relying on the seeds and rind. In a similar vein, I turned a friend’s oranges into cranberry-orange marmalade, getting the fresh cranberries from a large farmers’ market. That same market naturally has a variety of cucumbers, which brings us to pickles.

I could not quite bring myself to generating a whole batch of canned pickles, but wanted homemade pickles. The easiest, quickest single jar solution is refrigerator pickles. Cut up Persian, English, or Kirby (traditional pickling) cucumbers. Put them in a jar with mustard seeds, fresh dill, garlic, and any other spice you fancy. Add water, two tablespoons of vinegar, and non-iodized salt (roughly two tablespoons per quart). Refrigerate for 24-48 hours and enjoy. This was quite satisfactory and worked for other vegetables as well. However, it is only good for about a week or so.

So, there I was with a larger batch of Kirby cucumbers bought on a smoking deal. They were going to go bad before I could possibly eat the first batch of refrigerator pickles. So, I went looking for a longer-lasting pickle recipe that still would not require a larger canning operation. Suddenly, beer and pickles came together.

There is another, older process for pickling that does not involve vinegar. Instead, the natural yeasts that surround us are used, in a mildly salty brine, to produce a sour flavor through fermentation. Put the spices you like into a jar/container. Cut up the same sort of cucumbers as you like and pack them into the container or containers. Heat non-chlorinated water and salt at around four cups to two tablespoons, creating a brine. Pour this over the cucumbers.

Now, add a weight of some sort on top to keep cucumbers from floating to the surface and possibly growing mold. I used some decorative glass marbles/stones I had from some project, wrapped in cheesecloth. Set the container aside at room temperature for two to seven days, being careful to allow venting, off-gassing, from the fermentation without exposing the batch to more contaminants from the environment. I just lightly closed a Nalgene jar lid, testing it to ensure it was slightly loose.

After about 48 hours, you should see clear evidence of bubbling and a gradual clouding of the brine. This is how fermentation appears. The primary fermentation should end, temperature-dependent, after about five days. There should be a pickle smell, not an off odor, and the cucumber pieces should taste sour, like a pickle, but with a different flavor than vinegar acid imparts. Place in the refrigerator. It should last for up to a year.

I was already familiar with fermentation and the issue of venting the CO2 byproduct of yeast, while protecting the batch from undesirable additions through the air. This is basic to producing beer or wine. You need yeast, a sort of contaminant, to produce the alcohol that preserves the grain or grape ingredients for months or more. You need to plan and tend to the process so that you get a desirable result rather than a foul, possibly toxic mess. So it has been since olden days, proven by finds of ancient beer and wine, so it is with the newest fermentation equipment. Actually, that applies to life more generally, and certainly to the time in which we now live.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 23 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This post is part of our Group Writing Series under the January 2021 Group Writing Theme: “Old and New.” We have lots of open dates awaiting your participation. New here, or haven’t posted in months/years? You are especially encouraged to join in the conversation. Stop by soon, our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #1
  2. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Thank you! Funny you should post this.

    I just finished a jar of kraut with burdock, nettle, carrot, seaweed and a bit of cayenne in it. Amazing.

    And I had Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation sitting next to my computer as I write this.

    You can pickle green tomatoes in brine with dill, etc. the same way you do cucumbers for dill.

    Delicious sliced in a sandwich with tongue on rye with schmaltz on the bread. Even better with a spicy mustard on it.

    And a good beer.

    • #2
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Thank you! Funny you should post this.

    I just finished a jar of kraut with burdock, nettle, carrot, seaweed and a bit of cayenne in it. Amazing.

    And I had Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation sitting next to my computer as I write this.

    You can pickle green tomatoes in brine with dill, etc. the same way you do cucumbers for dill.

    Delicious sliced in a sandwich with tongue on rye with schmaltz on the bread. Even better with a spicy mustard on it.

    And a good beer.

    <Drool>

    • #3
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    This has to be the tastiest post in months. If only Ricochet had a “Deliver to Your Table in One Hour” button. 

    • #4
  5. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Thank you! Funny you should post this.

    I just finished a jar of kraut with burdock, nettle, carrot, seaweed and a bit of cayenne in it. Amazing.

    And I had Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation sitting next to my computer as I write this.

    You can pickle green tomatoes in brine with dill, etc. the same way you do cucumbers for dill.

    Delicious sliced in a sandwich with tongue on rye with schmaltz on the bread. Even better with a spicy mustard on it.

    And a good beer.

    <Drool>

    I was drooling as I typed.

    • #5
  6. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Fascinating.

    I also have made crock pickles for eons, and brewed for more than a decade. 

    When crock pickling, i never considered adding a special yeast, simply letting nature do its thing, and always succeeding.

    When homebrewing, i am very particular about the strain of yeast used to create a particular ale.  Mostly succeeding…

    Things to ponder. 

     

     

     

     

    • #6
  7. Dave of Barsham Member
    Dave of Barsham
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    My family also kept a garden to keep the grocery bills down when I was a kid. My mom made pickles at least a few times that I can remember. One year in particular she made sweet pickles and split the batch, adding green food coloring to one and red food coloring to the other for a Christmas get together. None of the adults cared of course, but we kids couldn’t bring ourselves to eat those freakish red ones. Granted they were also so sweet they would take your breath away. 

    • #7
  8. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Dave of Barsham (View Comment):

    My family also kept a garden to keep the grocery bills down when I was a kid. My mom made pickles at least a few times that I can remember. One year in particular she made sweet pickles and split the batch, adding green food coloring to one and red food coloring to the other for a Christmas get together. None of the adults cared of course, but we kids couldn’t bring ourselves to eat those freakish red ones. Granted they were also so sweet they would take your breath away.

    I’m probably about 30 years older than you, Dave, and I too have a couple of tales like that. Let’s face it: we on Ricochet could fill a book with things our parents did to ingeniously make the most of everything. Thanks for your story; you make it so vivid!

    • #8
  9. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    When I was growing up, my mother had “back trouble”, so we rarely did anything as a family.  One thing we did most years, however, was make dill pickles.  We’d go down to the Pike Place Market to buy the cucumbers, dill, and spices.  When we got home we had a mini-assembly line.  Dad was responsible for the brine and jars, sister and I stuffed the jars with spices and cukes, Mom added the dill, Dad sealed the jars.  Everyone carried some jars down to the basement, and in a few weeks we had the world’s best pickles.  As I liked to say, “You bite them, they bite you back”.  My sister took over that duty, since she had the kids and family.  I don’t know if she will still make them, as she sold her big house and moved last year.  

    • #9
  10. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    My mother used to make what she called peach pickles. They were sweet and tangy. She used cinnamon and cloves. Does anyone have a good recipe for this?

    • #10
  11. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    JoelB (View Comment):

    My mother used to make what she called peach pickles. They were sweet and tangy. She used cinnamon and cloves. Does anyone have a good recipe for this?

    No, but my West Texas grandmother pickled peaches that way and pickled just about every other vegetable. Her garage was filled with shelves of mason jars.

    • #11
  12. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    JoelB (View Comment):

    My mother used to make what she called peach pickles. They were sweet and tangy. She used cinnamon and cloves. Does anyone have a good recipe for this?

    First recipe from the University of Georgia Cooperative extension.  Second from The Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer MacKenzie.

     

     

    • #12
  13. CRD Member
    CRD
    @CRD

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Thank you! Funny you should post this.

    I just finished a jar of kraut with burdock, nettle, carrot, seaweed and a bit of cayenne in it. Amazing.

    And I had Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation sitting next to my computer as I write this.

    You can pickle green tomatoes in brine with dill, etc. the same way you do cucumbers for dill.

    Delicious sliced in a sandwich with tongue on rye with schmaltz on the bread. Even better with a spicy mustard on it.

    And a good beer.

    I had to look up burdock and nettle. Thanks for broadening my horizon!

    • #13
  14. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Clifford A. Brown: Actually, that applies to life more generally, and certainly to the time in which we now live.

    Amen.

    • #14
  15. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Thanks for the recipes @9thdistrictneighbor

    We may attempt one of these soon. Mrs. B bought me a jar of spiced peaches at Aldi recently, and they were good, but they did not have the zing of real pickled peaches.

    • #15
  16. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    You tried hard but you can’t distract me from my funk with pickle talk.

    • #16
  17. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    You tried hard but you can’t distract me from my funk with pickle talk.

    How about really spicy pickles?  I recently discovered something called cowboy candy, which is sweet pickled jalapeños.   I generally do not care for sweet pickles, but I have eaten my way through several quart jars of sweet pickled jalapeños and Serrano peppers.  Hard to be in a funk when your mouth is en fuego.  The latest batch is chopped with onions as a cowboy relish.  

    The bigger issue is that the ‘rona has created a nationwide shortage of canning lids.

    • #17
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    My parents were both of the Great Depression. I have canned tomatoes, beans, pickles, peaches… whatever we could get a lot of at a reasonable price. The sound of the cooling Mason lid going pop was the sweet sound of success every August and September.

    We had a garden that also had a horseradish patch which never got dug up. I asked why because everyone in my family seemed to like it. Nothing like a roast beef or roast pork sandwich with a little ground horseradish on it.

    Finally I decided I was going to do it. Oh, lord. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine anything that strong. This wasn’t gardening, this was chemical warfare. I cried. I’d grind a little and then go outside and breathe. Go back and grind a little more. The end result was wonderful, but… Never. Ever. Again.

    • #18
  19. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    This has to be the tastiest post in months. If only Ricochet had a “Deliver to Your Table in One Hour” button.

    It does, but it’s mostly feelings of bitterness and regret, on that menu.

    • #19
  20. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Clifford – loved this post. May I have your tomato jelly recipe? My aunt made it when we were growing up – I remember it being really yummy. I may have it somewhere and could compare. My dad always popped in tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. I think sometimes we had cukes, but we grew up loving to garden from just that. My niece works at a restaurant/pub in Frederick, MD and started a small backyard garden by recycling pickle buckets from the restaurant. She had an abundant tomato yield.

    I constantly battle deer, and the Florida bugs and sand so I thought this coming year, I’m going to do a pickle garden and find a way to shield it. I went to a local lunch place called Pickles and asked if I could have a couple of their empty pickles buckets? An emphatic no – “we re-use them, you can buy at Home Depot”. Phooey.

    So I ordered a three pack on line – they’re green too! Anyone can garden in pots or a small space, even a balcony. Let’s all look forward to Spring and happier times! Here’s a picture of my niece’s garden: You can see a white bucket to the right(I had better bucket picture but can’t find it) plus the left enclosure with the red fence has tomatoes. The buckets are food grade safe.

    • #20
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Here are the recipes for the marmalades I mentioned:

    Marmalades:
    Lemon Basil:
    Soak a bunch of basil in four cups water at least overnight. When you get enough basil flavor, understand it has to stand up to lots of lemons.
    Carefully peel about 12-14 largish lemons.
    Remove pith and slice each lemon crosswise in thirds to get as many seeds out as possible.
    Slice lemons in batches with thin slice food processor attachment. Pick out all the seeds you see.
    Use chopping blade in food processor to get the size lemon peel bits you want.
    Combine lemons, chopped peel, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and basil water in a pot on the stove. Heat to a low boil and then simmer for at least 30 minutes.
    Measure out 4 cups sugar. Remove 1/4 cup and combine with 3-4 tablespoons low sugar pectin powder.
    Bring lemon mixture to full boil.
    Add sugar/pectin mix and bring to rolling boil (bubbles even as you stir).
    Stir in rest of sugar, return to rolling boil, then count down from 60.
    Take off heat and can.
    Put filled jars in water bath you have timed to be at a boil around the time you fill the jars. Boil 10 minutes, remove and let cool, checking later for lid seal.

    Lemon chili pepper marmalade
    As above, but infuse water with peppers of your choice to heat of your choice.

    Cranberry orange

    12 oz cranberries cooked so they break down, can be refrigerated overnight.
    4 1/2 pounds oranges, peel, remove pith.
    Process as with lemons.
    This only requires 2 1/2 cups water.
    Use same baking soda and pectin.
    Increase sugar to 5 cups to balance the cranberries.
    The baking soda is apparently needed in citrus recipes to let the pectin set properly. This is my guess.

     

    • #21
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Clifford – loved this post. May I have your tomato jelly recipe? My aunt made it when we were growing up – I remember it being really yummy. I may have it somewhere and could compare. My dad always popped in tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. I think sometimes we had cukes, but we grew up loving to garden from just that. My niece works at a restaurant/pub in Frederick, MD and started a small backyard garden by recycling pickle buckets from the restaurant. She had an abundant tomato yield.

    I constantly battle deer, and the Florida bugs and sand so I thought this coming year, I’m going to do a pickle garden and find a way to shield it. I went to a local lunch place called Pickles and asked if I could have a couple of their empty pickles buckets? An emphatic no – “we re-use them, you can buy at Home Depot”. Phooey.

    So I ordered a three pack on line – they’re green too! Anyone can garden in pots or a small space, even a balcony. Let’s all look forward to Spring and happier times! Here’s a picture of my niece’s garden: You can see a white bucket to the right(I had better bucket picture but can’t find it) plus the left enclosure with the red fence has tomatoes. The buckets are food grade safe.

    Hmmm. I will check my physical recipe file to see if I jotted down the one I used. I use EverNote for a lot of clipping, and I have a note page with all my research on tomato jam/butter. I believe I used the first one recipe on my note page. Here it is:

    Spiced Tomato Jam/Butter

    • Prep1 h
    • Cook20 m
    • Ready In9 h 20 m

    Recipe By:Mom2MMJ”Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves make this tomato jam more like a ‘butter’ than a jam. I actually won a blue ribbon at the Indiana State Fair with this recipe several years ago! My husband enjoyed this often as a child. I had never heard of it before marrying him. Using firm, meaty tomatoes will yield a thicker jam.” Ingredients

    • 2 1/4 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered pectin
    • 4 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 6 (1 pint) canning jars with lids and rings

    Directions

    1. Place the tomatoes in a saucepan with a lid and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir the lemon zest, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice, and pectin into the tomatoes. Place the saucepan over high heat. Stirring constantly, bring the tomato mixture to a boil; immediately upon boiling, stir the sugar into the tomato mixture and return to a full rolling boil. Allow to cook at a full boil for 1 minute while stirring. Remove from heat and skim any foam off the surface of the mixture.
    2. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the tomato jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
    3. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 5 minutes.
    4. Remove the jars from the stockpot and place several inches apart onto a cloth-covered or wood surface; allow to sit until cool or overnight. Check the seal by pressing the top of each lid with a finger (the lid should not move up or down at all).

    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2018 Allrecipes.com Printed From Allrecipes.com 12/4/2018 Tomato Butter

    • 4 quarts cooked tomatoes
    • 7 cups of light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon allspice

    MIX all ingredients. Cook very slowly until thick. Pour into sterilized KERR Jars and seal while hot. Sweet and Tangy Tomato Jam PREP TIME10 minutesCOOK TIME3 hoursTOTAL TIME3 hours 10 minutes Ingredients

    • 3½ pounds tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon coriander
    • ¼ teaspoon cumin
    • ¼ cup cider vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    Instructions

    1. Place all ingredients in a dutch oven. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until mixture is thickened like jam, almost 3 hours. You can proceed to can the jam in a hot water bath at this point or simply divide the jam and store in the fridge for a few weeks.

    © Garnish with LemonCUISINE: American / CATEGORY: Soups + Salads +Sides http://www.kerrhomecanning.com/p/fruit-butters-and-conserves.html  https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/174275/spicy-tomato-jam/  http://www.thejoykitchen.com/recipe/amys-tomato-jam  Amy’s Tomato JamMakes 3 pints 5 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup bottled lime juice 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes Combine all ingredients in a large, nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the jam, stirring regularly, until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. Toward the end of cooking, be vigilant about stirring, as it burns easily when it’s nearly finished. When it is done, it should look glossy and it shouldn’t be at all runny. This will take between 11/2 and 2 hours. Once the jam is cooking, the vital work is done. This jam keeps for ages in the refrigerator, so you can funnel it into jars, let it cool and then pop it in the back of the fridge. However, if fridge space is precious, it can also be canned in a boiling water bath canner for shelf stability. Here’s how that’s done. When the jam is nearly done, prepare a boiling water bath and three pint jars (you can also use a combination of pint and half pint jars if you prefer). Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat. When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Preserved in this manner, unopened jars of tomato jam will last up to two years. Kept in the fridge, it will keep for at least 6 months. https://www.lanascooking.com/tomato-jam/

    • #22
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Here are the recipes for the marmalades I mentioned:

    I have given small jelly jars of these marmalades to friends and family, to universal acclaim. 

    • #23