Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pickle Failure

It seems like everyone has pickle story. Some have long been singing the praises of all-things-fermented or brined and some are just learning to like them but never-the-less, recipes are popping up everywhere.

If you follow me on flickr, you saw my pickles in their early stages. Plump, kirby cucumbers - nestled together with spices - working hard to ferment themselves. What you did not see coming (and neither did I) was the mold. That's right, I pulled my pickles out a week ago only to discover a thick layer of fuzzy mold on top of a thin egg-white-looking layer blanketing the top of my pickles (too much information?).

I peeled up the mold and examined my pickles to see if they were okay underneath the white layer - they weren't. They were soft and squishy and definitely not something I wanted to eat. Sigh. 
Finally, I dumped the whole jar and sent an email to Shannalee to see if she could figure out what I did wrong. We both decided that I let them ferment for too long (two weeks). I also read numerous sites that said to put the jar in a dark place while they ferment - which is what I did and I think that helped the mold along as well. Oh well.

I bought another bunch of cucumbers from the same farm and started a new jar. This time I put them on the counter where I could keep an eye on the sneaky little mold-producers and I only let them sit 6 days.
This afternoon, I pulled one out, cut it open and took a bite.

I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. They are just barely pickled yet the tops of one or two are already slightly soft and threatening to turn to mush. Leaving them out to ferment a bit longer is not an option...I can sense them just daring me to leave them one more day so they can grow that thick mold again. Gross. So my question for you is, what now? Am I expecting too much from a pickle without vinegar? Maybe this is how they are supposed to taste. I don't know, I guess I'll try again.

These fussy, little, good-for-you bacteria better get it together or I'm going to ditch them for their better-tasting cousin, yogurt. We're already good friends anyway.

Failed (or not?) Lacto-Fermented Pickles
Adapted from Food Loves Writing

Pickling cucumbers
Kosher Salt
Caraway Seeds
Whole Black Peppercorns
1/2 of a white onion, peeled and chopped in large chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled

Fill a quart size mason jar about a quarter or a third full with water, and add two tablespoons of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, three garlic cloves and the onion chunks. Add in cucumbers, as many as will fit comfortably, and then fill the rest of the jar with water, leaving a little room at the top. Cover and set on the counter for 5 to 8 days (I left mine for 6). Put them in the refrigerator when they are done fermenting or when you sense they will turn moldy if don't. 
Hopefully yours turn out better than mine!

1 comment:

  1. If at all helpful, you might try adding whey for the lacto-fermentation. I tried this myself about a month ago using the recipe for pickles here:

    The grape leaves definitely helped to keep the pickles crisp, too.

    I think the pickles are too salty, but my husband and grandpa think they're perfect. :P


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