Between the digestive issues my daughter has faced since she was a baby and my own celiac diagnosis, I have been somewhat obsessed with healing our guts for quite some time.
For many years, I thought yogurt and liquid acidophilus were our only options. It has not been until recently that I have learned the magic of fermented foods.
More specifically, fermented vegetables like cucumbers and cabbage—better known as pickles and sauerkraut. So when I was invited to join in on this year’s FoodNetwork Summerfest, I was excited to see cucumbers as the first ingredient on the produce-packed list!
If you have never made fermented vegetables, now is a great time to start! Not only are they really easy, making your own fermented vegetables is extremely affordable and delicious!
How does fermenting work?
According to Exploratarium.edu, proper fermentation helps to keep away “bad” spoilage-causing microorganisms and allows the “good” bacteria, lactic acid, to flourish.
Of all the ‘friendly flora’ in our guts, lactobacilli, are among the most important and the most fragile. Stress, poor diets and antibiotics will kill off lactobacilli, but eating foods rich in good bacteria will help them replenish. Given that our digestive system is the heart of our immune system, it is very important to take care of your gut. Very important.
Of all the vegetables you can ferment, cabbage and cucumbers produce the most lactic acid bacteria and should be included in anything you choose to ferment.
Slicing your vegetables will help accelerate the fermentation process and ensures a snackable treat once the fermentation process is through!
It is important to use purified water. Chlorine is present in most tap water and will kill off the beneficial bacteria before it has a chance to take over. If you do not have a filter, either use bottled water or boil your water for 10 minutes and allow it to cool.
Additionally, too much salt will kill the fermentation process as well! Use 100% salt. Non-iodized salts like pickling salt, pure sea salt or Himalayan salt are your best options. Make certain the only ingredient on the label is “salt.”
The best salt-to-water ratio for any fermented vegetable recipe is 1.5-2 tablespoons to 1 liter of water.
Before you begin, be sure to sterilize everything! Your jar, your lid and most especially, your rock. This can be done using the sterilization setting in the dishwasher or by boiling all of the equipment for 15-20 minutes prior to use.
As always, organic vegetables are best. Everything used in this recipe is in-season and should be readily available at your favorite store and most especially, at your local farmer’s market.
I hope this recipe for fermented cukes and zukes finds you well!
- 1-Steralized Half Gallon Glass Jar with a Screw-on Lid (I use an old pickled okra jar)
- 1-Steralized Rock, small enough to fit in the lid of the jar, big enough to keep your vegetables below the brine
- 3 heads of fresh dill
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1 jalapeño, seeded for mild, whole for spicy
- 1 lb cucumbers, sliced
- ½ lb baby zucchini, sliced
- 1.5-3 Tbs Pure Salt (Non-iodized Pickling, Sea Salt or Himalayan)
- Purified Water
- Place dill, garlic and jalapeño in the base of sterilized jar. Layer sliced cucumbers and zucchini’s as desired, I like to slice and layer vegetable by vegetable as I go.
- Stop adding vegetables once you have filled the jar to 1.5 inches below the surface.
- Place rock on top of vegetables, ensuring you have centered it well enough to keep vegetables below the surface during fermentation process.
- Mix together 1 litre of room-temperature water with 1 Tbs salt, stir until dissolved. Follow this process until vegetables are covered in brine, stopping when there is ½ inch head space between the brine and the top of the jar.
- Screw on lid and place jar in bowl to help capture overflow during the fermentation process.
- Set jar away from windows in a cool room, with temperatures below 72 degrees for 2-2 ½ weeks. Because gasses will form and pressure will build while the fermentation process, it is important to unscrew and release pressure from your jar on a daily basis until the vegetables are ready for refrigeration. Make certain you set a calendar reminder, put the jar in a place you will not forget to do this, get in the habit of doing this first thing in the morning, before you eat breakfast, after you get home from work, whatever you need to do to remember to unscrew the lid. Too much pressure can mean danger, worst case scenario it means an exploding jar and ruined vegetables (or worse). Nobody wants that.
- Keeping the lid on helps prevent harmful bacteria from forming. If a white scum forms on the top, skim it off. The liquid will cloud over time, this is a normal part of the good bacteria growth.
- Once fermentation is complete and you are satisfied with the flavor, fermented vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
I hope you enjoy these fermented vegetables as much as we do! Be sure to visit the rest of the FoodNetwork Summer Fest bloggers for more idea on how to enjoy your cucumbers this season!
The Sensitive Epicure: Chinese Style Cucumbers
What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber, Herb and Pita Salad
Ingredients, Inc.: Easiest Cucumber Salad
Virtually Homemade: Cucumber Strawberry Cooler
From My Corner of Saratoga: Marinated Cucumber Salad
The Cultural Dish: Pasta With Roasted Shrimp and Cucumbers
Daily*Dishin: Southern Benedictine – Creamy Cucumber Spread
Delicious Lean: Cucumber Jicama Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Avocado Open-Face Sandwiches
FN Dish: No-Cook Cucumber Recipes
Cooking With Elise: Wedge Salad With Cucumber-Ranch Dressing