Saturday, April 2, 2016

In a Pickle - Making Fermented Foods

I've always been a firm believer in keeping the refrigerator stocked with healthy food.  This picture was taken at the crash pad before I moved. (for new reader - I sold my house in Indiana before I got married in 2013 but had to commute a while until I could transfer to Chicago where my husband was).  With a major kitchen remodel going on now, our fridge is at "bare minimum".  But this gives you an example of what I normally keep on hand..

What's in here?  The usual -milk for my husband because I can't drink milt :-(    free range eggs from a friend's chickens, chicken breasts, Amish bacon, organic butter, lots of veggies, Greek yogurt and some gluten free muffin tops (which I got to see if I could replicate a recipe for them for a friend with Celiac).  Then the staples - whole wheat flour, stone ground cornmeal, Riehles Indiana popcorn, Lard (for the occasional biscuit treat so much more healthy than Crisco), mineral and bottled water (the tap water in crashpadville was horrible) and cheap "I just mowed the lawn" beer, Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, Kombucha (fermented tea), almond butter, Miso and a bottle of 25 year old balsamic.  There's a jar in there with some home brewed mead as well as an assortment of olive oils and flavored balsamics for dips and homemade dressings for the veggies. And the inevitable jar of orange marmalade for my morning homemade sourdough whole wheat bread and large sriracha (Thai chili sauce) for stir fry nights. The freezer has lots of veggies and veggie meat substitutes for the meat free days I have each week.

Refrigerators are a good indicator of many things - the size of your family, whether you like to cook or not, whether you're a college student (Dad visited my roommates and I once and all he found in the fridge was a stick of butter and a case of Olympia beer). It can show the status of both your wallet and your general nutrition.
I try and keep healthy and fresh stuff on hand, (please do not look in the freezer, that's where I hide at least two rolls of  McVities Digestive biscuits, Tater Tots and Home Run Pizzas).  Even so, I make sure I buy things when they are on sale, taking advantage of managers mark downs on items I can use immediately  Recently when I hit the store,, there was fresh baby dill at the store for 80 cents (manager special due to the sell by date) for a huge bundle

What to do with it?  I have cucumbers.  I'll make pickles with some of the fresh dill and dry the rest for seasoning other things.
You don't need "canning equipment" and these will keep for several weeks in the fridge (like they're going to last that long). You just need a small sauce pan, a big bowl, a spoon and a big glass jar.

Wash thoroughly 2  large cucumbers and cut as you wish (I went for fairly large Spears), place in large bowl and toss in 1/4 cup gently diced baby dill (you want fresh dill, not dried)

In a small saucepan mix:
1 cup Braggs apple cider vinegar (do not use the heated treated cheap acv)
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or table sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
2 heaping teaspoons of jarred minced garlic (optional for those that don't do garlic)

Bring to a simmer on the stove and remove from heat.  Let cool a minute or two then pour warm liquid over cucumbers and dill, stirring with a big spoon every 10 minutes or so, until it comes down to room temperature.  Place in tightly sealed jar, and shake every 15 minutes or so while it cools further, then put in fridge overnight.  You can eat them immediately, but they're much better the next day, and after that, they get even better.  I used a squarish glass jar (I ran over to big box mart and got it for $3) so I could rotate the jar on it's side each day to keep all of the cucumbers brined.
These are fresh, clean and crisp, with just the right amount of pickle taste for those of us that prefer a garlicy dill to the overly sweet bread and butter pickles and crisp over any limp store pickles. And fermented food isn't just tasty, it's good for you.  I try and have 2-3 servings of fermented food a day, pickled veggies, yogurt, goat milk kefir, kombucha, miso, and homemade sourdough bread and rolls.
The kefir ferments in the redneck wine glass
(moved here from it's shadowy home for a photo)

Try the pickles.  They are easy to make, and like the Kefir I now have going daily in my home, I simply had to say "I could  make that!" And I  (and my wallet) was so glad I did.
Garlicy, not too sweet and super crunchy.  Honestly, dinner one night when I was "bacheloring" it was several of these and a handful of raw almonds. And yes, I know, that's not a "French manicure", that's the Swiss Army manicure.


  1. I gotta say "wow"! I would not post a photo of our fridge cuz folks would say the same thing but for a very opposite reason!



Thanks for visiting. Having been fortunate enough not to have to diet as a young woman - hitting middle age to find my Metabolism moved to Aruba and didn't even send a postcard was a rude awakening. Thanks for sharing the fun and the pain of getting back in shape. Note: If you are a stranger and include a link in your comment - it will not be posted, to ensure no SPAM or viruses are shared. Any link I post is tested first.