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Organic vegetable garden
Fairlight, East Sussex
This recipe preserves your cucumbers and produces an umami-rich and sour flavour
For a one litre clip-top jar:
- 10-12 small cucumbers
- 2 cloves garlic
- Boil a kettle and let it cool.
- Tare your jar on a set of scales in order to weigh the contents. - Put the peeled and crushed cloves at the bottom of the jar, then squeeze in as many cucumbers as you can. Feel free to cut tops or bottom off in order to fit them in, but they're better off going in whole.
- Add your pre-boiled, cooled water until cucumbers are covered.
- Measure the total weight of the contents, then pour out the water and add 2% of total weight in salt (i.e. your cucumbers+water probably weights 1400g, so use 28g salt). Stir brine until dissolved, then re-add to jar.
- Leave to ferment for a week or so, briefly opening each day to let out the CO2. Once the gas expulsion has subsided, store sealed until the winter.
'Pickle' is an ambiguous term, often used both for preserves in vinegar and for fermented preserves. Both of these methods have the same goal in mind, but go about it in very different ways, vinegar is used to kill all microbes and create a sterile environment, while a brine-fermentation relies on microbial activity in a very-much-alive environment. The recipe above employs the second method, which personally I find much more fascinating and mysterious, and produces an umami-rich, sour flavour, as opposed to simply a strong vinegar punch. If, however, you'd like to try a vinegar pickle instead, soak your cucumbers in a 2% brine just like in the recipe above, leave overnight, then drain, dry, pack into jars and top-up with vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. This method is slightly less risky, and requires less daily attention.
This general methodology (2% brine, submerge, burp for a week then store) can be used to ferment a wide array of different vegetables, including shredded cabbage, carrot, beetroot, and courgette.