Fermented food is delicious and very healthy, and fermenting vegetables is very simple. You do not believe me? You don’t have to. Just try it and you will be surprised. It takes just a few minutes of work and is delicious to eat. Fermented half-sour pickles are the perfect first-time ferment.
For half-sour pickles, you do not need any special equipment nor starters. I like to keep things really simple, the way my family has pickled for generations. For beginners, cucumbers are the best vegetable to start with. This is a simple way to ferment them for eating right away as a fresh half-sour pickle.
What is the difference between half-sours and full-sours
The difference between half-sour pickles and full-sour pickles is first and foremost the time it takes to ferment them. In 1-3 days you will have half-sours, and in about 6 days you will have full-sours.
For long time storage (up to a year) full-sour pickles, you want to use pickling cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers are shorter 3 to 4 inches (ca. 8 to 10 cm) and often have bumpy skin. They keep the form when fermented.
Slicing cucumbers vary from 4 to 10 inches (ca. 10 to 25 cm) in length and often have a thicker skin then pickling cucumbers. If you make a full-sour slicing cucumber (let it ferment past four days), it might not look very attractive, but will still taste great.
Half-sour pickles are made to eat fresh, they will not keep for months as full sours will.
Things you need to make half-sour pickles
1. A container or a jar. It can be any size or shape just not metal, so it does not oxidize. I like the Ikea glass jars. For the fermenting process, I take the rubber band out and put it back on for storing it in the fridge.
2. A down pusher. Anything that holds the cucumbers down under the brine. I use a Tupperware shake insert, it fits well into my jars. A small plate with some weight on it would work too.
How To Make Fermented Half Sour Pickles
The cucumbers can be of any size, shape, or variety. Since we are not fermenting them to keep for long time storage, we can also just slice them up. In this recipe pictures, I show you a sliced English cucumber, the one that is the easiest available for most people.
Whenever there is an overproduction of cucumbers in the garden or a great sale at the farmers market, make half-sour pickles. So let’s get started.
- 1 liter (32 oz) of filtered or culled boiled water
- 1.5 tablespoons pickling salt for cucumbers, 1 tablespoon for other vegetables. (I make the tablespoon heaped - do not use iodine salt!)
- Dill fresh or frozen in cubes
- 1-3 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste
- About a teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 2-3 slices of fresh horseradish root or a fresh horseradish leave (it makes the cucumbers more firm, mostly I don't have any 🙁 )
- Some black pepper kernels
- 2 english cucumbers sliced - or a pound pickling cucumbers
- Put all the ingredients for the brine into a jar or container and stir well.
- If using English cucumbers, cut them into 1 inch (2.54 cm) big pieces and add to the jar so that they are all covered in brine. It will take about two English cucumbers. Little pickles from the garden or farmer's market are even better if available.
- Push the cucumbers down by using whatever fits into your container. In a bucket a plate with some weight on will do, for a jar I use an egg holder :).
- Keep in a warm place for 1-3 days, depending on how strong you want them to be. They can be eaten right away.
Fermenting other vegetables
Using the same brine, you can ferment almost any vegetable you can imagine. Add a sliced pepper to the cucumbers, it looks very ornamental and tastes great.
Once all the cucumbers are eaten, fill the jar with tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes work best for that. Yum, half-sour tomatoes!
If you want to get more advanced in Fermentation
Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey also wrote a book Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes.
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