So you’re eating paleo, and not making your digestive system work hard to digest non-foods. Why not take it one step further and help your digestive system heal by adding fermented foods to your diet? Of all the fermented foods I’ve made, dill pickles are the easiest. No grating. No pounding. No guesswork. There are lots of things you can add to them, if you like. There are lots of ways to make the cucumbers a bit crisper, but I like to keep it simple: Five ingredients, five minutes, and you’re done. As always, choose organic ingredients where possible.
What to make your dill pickles in?
When I wanted to make dill pickles the first time, I went out an bought a canning jar but later learned that you can make them and other fermented foods in any regular jar. Just get the size you want and go for it. UPDATE: I seem to get consistently better results when I use the fido type of pickling jar (see picture if you’re not sure what a fido is). Preparation time: 5 minutes Ready to eat: approx. 4 – 10 days
Small, unwaxed cucumbers Dill Garlic Unrefined coarse Sea Salt Filtered water
- Wash the cucumbers and remove the stems and any flowers. I slice the pickles when I make a small quantity, so they’ll fit into the small jar more easily, but this is optional.
- Peel garlic cloves. I use about 10 cloves in a one liter (1 quart) jar, but you can adjust to taste.
- Place the cucumbers, garlic, and a few sprigs of dill interspersed in the jar. I cover the top with dill to ensure they remain submerged.
- Dissolve the coarse sea salt in warm, filtered water at the ratio of just under 1 tablespoon per cup. I prepare and add one cup at a time until the water almost reaches the top of the jar. Make sure the contents are covered. You can use less salt if you like, or even none at all, but there is more danger that unwanted beasties will proliferate and ruin your lovely pickles. You could add more salt, but beyond a certain point, your cucumbers won’t ferment. Find a happy medium that makes you and your pickles happy.
- Let it sit until ready. How do you know it’s done? First of all, they will look like pickles, and not cucumbers. Second, when you think it might be ready, open the jar and taste it. When it tastes pickled, it is. How long it will take to get there depends on lots of factors, including temperature and amount of salt. You’ll have to eyeball it.
It smells bad: As with any food you are fermenting, if it smells foul, something went wrong. Throw it out. This hasn’t happened to me yet, so I don’t know from personal experience, but apparently, it’s pretty obvious when it hasn’t fermented properly.
It isn’t fermenting: How do you know it is fermenting? After a day or two, when you tilt the jar slightly, you see bubbles rising to the surface. If a few days have gone by and there are no signs of life, taste the brine to see if it is too salty. If you overdid it on the salt, you might try pouring off a bit of brine and replace with filtered water with no added salt. If you have liquid whey from cheesemaking on hand, add a tablespoon or two to jumpstart the fermentation process. Or just give it a few days. It might be a slow starter.
My pickles are mushy: Start with very fresh, small cucumbers. To perk them up, you can soak them in an ice water bath before pickling them. Alternatively, you could add a horseradish leaf or fresh grape leaf to the jar.
Paleo dill pickles are one of my favorite additions to a great paleo meal.
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