I have made pickles before, but I have never really be too thrilled with how they turned out. After some research online I came to the decision to try fermenting pickles this time around in hopes that they will turn out better. My dad has told me stories about how his grandmother would have big barrels of pickles in her basement in Brooklyn, and I am guessing that she was fermenting them.
When fermenting you can use a crock, my dad and mom each found one at their home that I will be able to have, but until then I am using canning jars with lids that self vent.
The process of fermenting is pretty straight forward:
1. Clean your vegetables and prepare. I washed the cucumbers and cabbage (3 heads) and then cut the cucumbers into spears and chopped the cabbage.
2. Add 3 tbs. of pickling spices (or to your taste preference), a few cloves of garlic, and a couple of bay leaves, and dill to each jar in which you are making pickles. (I used half-gallon jars.) Place your cucumbers in the jar with your spices making sure to pack tightly and leave one inch of space from the top of the jar.
3. For sauerkraut take your chopped cabbage and place in a bowl, sprinkle with 3 Tbs. of Kosher salt. Wash your hands thoroughly and kneed the cabbage until it begins to wilt and has released water, this may take up to thirty minutes, but it may not. Place the cabbage and liquid in the half-gallon jar, if the cabbage is not covered by the liquid you will need to add some brine to the top.
3. Boil water and add 2 Tbs. of salt to one quart of water to create your brine.
4. Pour your brine solution over the cucumbers and add some to the cabbage if necessary. Place your fermenting weights on top of each to keep the vegetables from floating to the top and then cover each with a lid.
5. Set your jars aside and wait. It will take 2-3 weeks for the pickles to be ready and 3-6 weeks for the sauerkraut. The time for each to be ready varies just based on where your jars are placed and the temperature (ideal 70-75 degrees F, 80 is too hot). You will notice bubbling in the jars after a few days, this is a sign that the process has begun. Once you see that the bubbling has stopped this is the sign that the fermentation process is complete. The jars may look cloudy, but this is okay and just the process working.
6. Shelf life of pickles and kraut varies, but they will last for quite some time. Storing them in the fridge will extend their life and if they ever have an odor or are slimy they have outstayed their welcome.