Better Vegan Raw Brine-Cured Pickles
Source: Better Vegan Category: Vegan Fermented Foods
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 0 Total Time: 30 min Makes about 2 32oz jars
About this recipe
In this recipe we are not using any vinegar, but curing the cucumbers in a salty brine. This produces the pickles which are rich in probiotics, and at the same time are crunchy and full of flavor. Once you try them, you will start craving them and keep making more. Because these pickles are raw, you will get all the good bacteria and probiotics, which are so wonderful for your gut.
Please read the recipe and the notes carefully before proceeding and follow the instructions. Fermentation can be a tricky process, and deviations may lead to poor results.
1 - 1 1/2 pounds keiki (mini) cucumbers, thoroughly washed
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 black peppercorns
2-4 sprig fresh or dried dill
Pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste
1 Tbsp. unpasteurized miso paste
4 cups filtered water
Few cabbage leaves (to use as a spacer) (optional)
1. Prepare the ingredients.
2. Sterilize your jars and lids: pour about 1 inch of water in a wide large pot and bring to simmer. Place large splatter screen with a flat and even top on top of the pot. Put your jars and lids upside down on the splatter screen over the simmering water. The steam should be entering the jars and you will notice water condensation inside of the jars. Allow to steam for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the jars and lids from pot and set on top of a clean kitchen towel upside down, so they can drain and dry.
3. Fill the jars: once the jars are cool and somewhat dry (they don't have to be completely dry inside), place them on a kitchen counter with the opening facing up. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the bottom of each jar. Add grape leaves, dill, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic and red pepper flakes. Place in a jar, not packing them too tight. If some of the cucumbers do not fit, you can cut them in pieces.
5. Prepare the brine: in a blender, combine water, salt and miso and blend until smooth. The brine may foam and expand slightly, which is normal.
6. Fill the jars with cucumbers with the brine. Give it a few minutes to release all the air (you will see air bubble rising to the top). If the cucumbers are not completely covered with liquid, add some more brine, or you can use cabbage leaves to serve as a spacer. Roll the outer cabbage leaves into very tight rolls and place them on top of the cucumbers. The cucumbers must be completely submerged and have no contact with air (that is important). When you press the rolls into the jars, some of the brine will spill over, which is OK. Tightly close the jars with the sterilized lids. Place the jars on a baking sheet or a tray with raised edges on your kitchen counter or in the pantry and let ferment for 5 days.
7. Fermentation process: be sure that the room temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees F. If it is slightly colder, wrap a towel around each jar and keep in the pantry. If it is hotter, find a cooler place to keep your jars. During the fermentation process you will notice bubbles rising from the bottom of the jars to the top. You may also hear noises and see the brine spilling out (that is why you need to keep the jars on the tray). These are the signs of the healthy fermentation process and they are perfectly normal. You may also notice smell coming from the spilled-out liquid. You can get rid of the smell by carefully placing the jars on the counter, discarding the liquid and washing the tray, then placing the jars back on it. When moving the jars, it is important to be very careful. Do not shake the jars and avoid any kind of disturbance, because that can interfere with the fermentation process.
8. Chilling: at the end of the 5th day, carefully wipe the outside of the jars with a damp cloth and transfer them to the refrigerator. Let chill overnight. Chilling slows down the fermentation process, but it will still be going. Once chilled, open the jar, remove the rolled outer leaves and discard. Once the seal is broken on each jar, the pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.
You may need more or less cucumbers and/or brine depending on how many and how big your jars are. The most important thing is to maintain the proportion of the ingredients, especially when making the brine. If you think you will need more brine, make a double portion, but do not break the ratios.
Since it is hard for most of us to get fresh grape leaves, it is totally fine to use jarred ones. I get a 16oz jar, separate the leaves into bundles in a few Ziploc bags and freeze them. When you need the next batch, just thaw it and keep in the refrigerator until it is used.
If the fermentation temperature is higher than 75 degrees, the pickles may come out softer. You can deal with that by slightly increasing the amount of salt (use 5 tsp. instead of 4 1/2) or shortening the fermentation time.