Lacto-fermented veggies are essential for our health because they are extremely therapeutic for our digestive system. Not only does the fermentation process unlock nutrients for optimal digestion, but also provides wonderful bacteria to feed our gut microbiome. I enjoy 1-3 servings a day, eaten with a meal. When you first introduce ferments, start slowly to allow your body to adjust to the new bacteria. (About 1 Tablespoon a day and slowly increase to a full serving.)
It is cucumber season, so they can be found in abundance at your local farmers markets, roadside stands and most gardens. Last week I picked up a bunch from Living Acres in Alfred, NY and enjoyed making these lacto-fermented pickles. (I shared about Living Acres’ delicious spring greens in a previous article.)
Recipe yields 1 quart of pickles. One serving equals 2-3 pickles.
1 quart whole small cucumbers
1 pint boiling water
1 Tablespoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
2 cloves garlic
⅛ tsp cayenne
2 sprigs of fresh dill or 1 Tbsp. dill seed
5-8 oak leaves (a good handful)*
If you are feeling adventurous, you can make different batches with each quart jar! Add one or a combination of the following spices: ¼ tsp mustard, ¼ tsp of fennel, or red pepper flakes.
Snip a ¼ inch off both ends off of the cucumbers. (If you can tell which end is the blossom end, simply snip that side. This helps keep the pickle crisp!)
Put garlic and spices in the bottom of a quart jar and pack with cucumbers. Add oak leaves throughout the jar as you pack the cucumbers. (I placed half on the bottom and half on the top.
Boil water and salt and pour into jar up to 1 inch from the top.
If necessary, use a fermentation weight or clean rock to keep cucumbers emerged under the water. (Depending on the size of your cucumbers and mouth of your jar, the cucumbers may stay emerged on their own.)
Cover with a tight lid.
Ferment at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. (4-7 days.) Burp daily to release excess pressure. The brine should turn cloudy and bubbly, and the pickles should taste sour when done.
Eat right away, or store in a refrigerator or root cellar for months and enjoy them all winter long!
*The oak leaves contain tannins, which are necessary to keep the pickles delightfully crunchy! You can also substitute grape leaves or horseradish.
If you have questions or comments for Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Maria Adam, contact her at thrivinghealthNY.com.