In Vermont, pickling cucumbers drip from their vines straight through July into about mid-September. This rush of cucumbers is what inspired me to seek out a traditionally made pickle. A tried ‘n true recipe that stood the test of time and was proclaimed good enough to get passed from generation to generation. I wanted a recipe that did not use vinegar or canning methods/pasteurization to keep the cucumber’s integrity alive and crisp.
After playing with recipes I found online and in cookbooks, my sister-in-law nonchalantly pulled a pickle from her crock one hot summer day. This pickle had the classic deli pickle firmness with a refreshing taste all its own and it was raw without vinegar involved.
My sister-in-law (+ neighbor) hails from Czech where her grandparents made whole cucumber pickles, called Kvasaky “fermented cucumbers”. When she moved to America to raise her own family, she kept up the tradition of making pickles with this tried ‘n true recipe.
At last, I found a recipe to satisfy my needs …. and in my own backyard. The next morning, I sat down at my sister-in law’s table in hopes she’d share her recipe. Thankfully she was happy to do so and kindly translated it here to share. Slice them up, flavor with whatever your heart desires, and crunch into ’em.
In other words, play, make this recipe your own; something to proudly pass along to your own friends and family 🙂
What you are looking for might be in your own backyard.
Short-Term Traditional Pickles
Makes: fills a 14-cup stoneware pickling pot or 2 half-gallon Mason jars.
12 cups water, pure
6-7 tsp sea salt, depending how salty you like
2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
7 whole peppercorns
6 whole allspice
3 bay leaves
8 medium grape vine leaves or other tannin-containing agent (i.e. oak leaves, horseradish leaves, or black tea leaves – see below)
4 pounds pickling cucumbers, whole
4 dill heads
1 head of garlic, peeled
8 cherry or currant leaves (optional)
4-inch piece of horseradish root, fresh (optional)
- Bring water, salt, mustard seeds, peppercorns, allspice, and bay leaves to a slow boil.
- Lower to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
- Set aside this brine liquid to cool until the feel of room temperature.
- Layer grape leaves on bottom of pickling pot (or jars) and top with cucumbers, dill, garlic, cherry leaves, and horseradish in a layered fashion.
- Pour cooled brine liquid over the layered cucumbers.
- Top with stone weights (if using crock) and cover with a lid.
- Add water into rim of lid (if using crock) and keep an eye on water level in coming days; replenish as needed.
- Let sit undisturbed at room temperature, 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit (18–22 degrees Celsius)
- If you use jars to pickle in, then burp them as needed to let the pressure out.
- Check in a week; can take up to 10 days depending on room temperature.
Tips & Tricks
- If you don’t have grape leaves, oak leaves, or horseradish leaves then use 1 teaspoon of loose black tea leaves or 1 black teabag per half-gallon jar.
- If kept in the fridge, these pickles will last many weeks. Just make sure they are submerged properly under the brine. Throughout the warmer months you can preserve your jar that much longer by adding a couple fresh grape leaves (or other tannin) into the top of the jar and give a good shake.
- The end of a cucumber contains enzymes that soften pickles, so use a knife to remove a thin slice from the ‘blossom end’ to preserve the firm texture.
- Punch the skin of the cucumber if you harvest a bit later in the year or it has been on the vine a little longer as it’ll have developed a thicker skin. Use a skewer or paring knife to prick a couple small holes in each cucumber. The brine can penetrate faster and the cucumbers will culture more evenly.
- Our Oven Incubator Kit maintains temperatures during fermentation. If your house is too warm for fermenting, see this article about keeping cultures cool in summer for ideas on creating a cooler environment for fermentation.
Note: If you’re on a gut healing protocol like The Body Ecology Diet, I say to enjoy this pickle even on stage 1; feel how you feel and keep on moving 😉
May ALL bellies be happy!