No Knife Required!?
In one of the most unusual requests ever, I had to reinvent a way to make dill pickles for a supermarket chain who has a special customer focus. Not any supermarket, but Consumer Reports “Best rated supermarket chain in America-2014.”
I was taxed with this requirement: no cutting allowed — ingredients had to be taken off the produce shelf and added to the Perfect Pickler® fermenting kit.
Wegmans Food Markets wants to emphasize their growing line of cleaned and pre-cut produce for busy-active cooks. The goal is to take the ingredients off the shelf and get them lacto-fermenting in minutes. And they need to taste better than jars found on the unrefrigerated shelves… and be a value in time and cost savings… and Wow! These jewels are loaded with probiotic goodness!
From this exercise I discovered the great American Easy-Peasy Dill Pickles hiding on produce shelves just waiting for you to create. Let me show you how easy-peasy it is combining a trick from Korea and a new variety of cucumbers to make this great pickle any time of year.
Makes 1 Qt.
Cucumbers: Hydroponic cucumbers are showing up at many supermarkets. They are uniform in size, thinnish, smoothed skin and 6 of them can slip into a one-quart jar like it was made for them. These cucumbers are pre-packed like above and are inexpensive to purchase. They are called mini-English, mini-cucumbers, gourmet, and several others. They are available year round now, so you can make these gems at your whim and in minutes.
Garlic: 4 cloves, smashed with the side of a knife to remove the skins (note: they are not sliced)
Pickling Spices: This is a common blend found in most any supermarket that contains bay leaves, dill, mustard, coriander and several other seeds. Use 1 Tablespoon.
Fresh Dill: Supermarkets stock fresh dill and some even have small packages of fresh herbs. If you do not have fresh dill, add 2 tsp. of dill seed (not weed) for the next best dill option (in addition to the pickling spice)
Brine: Dissolve 1 TBS. coarse premium sea salt with 2 cups filtered water
Here is a Korean technique for firming up cucumbers before fermenting begins:
- Dissolve 1/3 cup plain table salt in 1 quart regular tap water
- Soak whole cucumbers for 30 minutes; placing a small saucer atop the cukes to keep submerged
- Rinse cucumbers and discard this temporary brine
- I have a batch five weeks old that still has a nice firm texture
- To a clean, 1 quart jar add the pickling spices
- Lay jar on its side and lay in the cucumbers. If required, cut only the cuke(s) you need to fit. They will hold up better if left whole during fermentation. Stand jar up and clear a space in center of jar
- Smash garlic cloves to remove husk then add to jar
- Rinse dill and pack as much as you can fit into center of jar
- Ferment four days. Use cooler and ice blocks if warmer than 74º
- Flavor will round out after another four days in fridge
Recipe Alternative - Bread & Butter Pickles
After fermentation is complete you can easily convert some or all of your Easy Peasy Dill Pickles into sweet and sour gems