I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for (what seems like) ever. What started out as a simple change in salt turned into testing different tannins, salts, and how to prep the cukes (if at all). A couple weekends ago I opened a fresh batch that received the approval of everyone.
Well, technically two batches were approved. Honestly, I was hoping for a clear winner just to keep things simple. Instead, we have lacto-fermented options. 🙂
Don’t be skerrid, just because these are lacto-fermented, doesn’t mean dairy is involved. The lacto part of lacto-fermentation is in regards to the Lactobacillus strain of bacteria that are responsible for converting sugars into lactic acid. So while there may be lacto-fermented recipes that call for whey as a “starter”, it is not a requirement and the inclusion of whey or dairy has nothing to do with the term itself.
The lactic-acid is what keeps unsafe bacteria from growing during the fermentation period. This is why it is important to keep vegetables submerged below the brine (out of the danger zone).
Many, many months ago a fellow AIPer on Instagram had posted a picture of “smoked” pickles for her significant other. Of course, now I can’t for the life of me remember who posted it. *wince* It was one of those, “ooh! those sound awesome! I bet I could make them…” moments. Little did I know I would be in for months of pickle-making trials. Something so simple, yet so complex. I even contemplating smoking the cucumbers in the smoker, but eventually thought better of it. 😉
I’ve also made a version using natural liquid smoke, so you could definitely play around with that as well!
When fermenting cucumbers for pickles (like Kirby), a good rule of thumb is to use a 3.5% salt/water brine. If you’re just starting out with fermenting, WEIGH your salt. Discrepancies in salt weight can change the salinity of ferments.
A quick break down for 3.5% brines:
one cup water : 8 g salt // two cups water : 17 g salt // three cups water : 25 g salt // one quart (four cups) water : 33 g salt // two quarts (eight cups) water : 66 g salt
- 66 grams smoked sea salt (I big puffy heart this one)
- 2 quarts filtered water
- 2 TB untoasted oak chips (soaked for one hour and drained - can be found with brewing supplies) *OR* 1½ tsp (one teabag, emptied) organic black tea
- 1 TB organic dried dill (weed, not the seed) or 3 TB fresh organic dill
- 5-9 cloves organic garlic, crushed with flat edge of knife
- 1.5 lbs firm pickling/Kirby cucumbers (blossom ends removed)
- Mix together smoked sea salt with filtered water until salt dissolves. You can use some hot water to help, but make sure the brine is cooled to room temperature before using it.
- In the bottom of a half-gallon jar, place your tannins of choice (oak chips or tea).
- Add half the dill and garlic cloves then arrange as many cucumbers as you can before repeating another dill, garlic, cucumber layer.
- Pour the smoked sea salt brine to completely cover, but leave 1-2 inches of headspace. If needed, submerge pickles with a cabbage leaf (I prefer this to a weight so the cucumbers aren't smashed).
- Top with a tight lid, a coffee filter secured with a rubber band, or a fermenting lid.
- Leave to ferment at room temp for several days or until the desired flavor is reached.
- If using a tight lid, burp daily. If using a coffee filter, spray with vinegar daily to deter mold. If using a fermenting lid, sit back and enjoy the show. 🙂
- Once your ideal flavor is reached, store pickles in the fridge for months. If you used oak chips, remove them before storing (they may continue to influence the flavor of the pickles after fermentation is complete).
Check out my AIP Fermented Foods Recipe Roundup for over 30 recipes AND tips!