Wait, am I about to admit that as a 30-something Pole (born & bread) I never fermented any cucumbers whatsoever.
Yikes. But there it is.
In my defense, I’m a keen consumer of these crunchy & delicious pickles aged in brine. Buying quite a lot of that stuff, one might think I’m addicted.
Why buy ready made then? – you may ask.
Well, for some reason I always thought it’s a rather difficult art (or – science, or – perhaps both?), better left in the experienced hands of professionals.
But recently my mind was changed, and I’ll tell you why you should give it a go yourself.
Homemade Pickles: Is It Worth It?
There are a few reasons why it is!:
- The quality of a store-bought ogórki kiszone can differ significantly. Why risk buying some dodgy ones, when we can make them properly at home? That way you’ll know for sure what’s inside the jar.
- The whole process is EASY. Or at least that’s what they claimed on the “Food Network” (the Polish edition) last night ????.
- So far, I can confirm – cucumbers in brine ARE easy to prepare.
But please bear with me for another 2 weeks to see if the results are actually edible ????. And the results were great first time round!
- There is a massive hype around the world about all-things-fermented. And no wonder, they’re a superfood. Your gut will thank you for consuming them.
- It’s worth remembering that the Polish folk were (and still are) a total fermentation experts for CENTURIES. This is how we roll! If you’re of Polish decent (or simply wanna emulate our awesome Slavic style ????), just give it a go!
Polish Dill Pickles How-To’s
Before my first attempt, I equipped myself with a book by an expert – a well known Polish chef Aleksander Baron. In his book “Kiszonki i Fermentacje” (“Pickling and Fermentation”), he presents an array of recipes for all-things-pickled. The photos in the book look promising, so I’ve decided to give this method a try.
I cannot post any FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), since I have more Q’s than A’s at this point… But the key pointers are:
- To pickle cucumbers, use a common rock salt. It has tons of minerals, which enrich the brine and promote better fermentation. Avoid iodised salt and salt with anti-caking agents.
- It’s best to place the cucumbers tightly, under a slight slant, in layers.
- And lastly – a touch of sugar helps too, it maximally prolongs the period of proper fermentation.
1 to 2% of sugar (or honey) in the brine is enough to amp up the production of the lactic acid.
- 6.6 lb (3 kg) cucumbers (small, short & bumpy kind)
- 0.5 gallon (2 litre) water
- 5-6 tbsp (80-100g) common salt (non-iodized!)
- 4 horseradish leaves (optional)
- 4 stems fresh dill (with seeds)
- 6 oak leaves
- 10 cherry tree leaves
- 1 horseradish root
- 1-2 heads of garlic
- 1 tbsp honey (optional)
- Boil water with salt, leave aside to cool completely.
- Place cucumbers, leaves, horseradish root, garlic and honey into a large jar.
- Pour in the water.
- Cover with a lid. The author recommends using a fermentation lid (such as this one), but I used a regular lid and it worked just fine.
- Set aside and... wait.
- You can start tasting them after 3 days or so. But for a proper dill pickle in brine, you'll need to wait longer.
- For the first 2 weeks, cucumbers should be stored at room temperature, then transferred to a cool place to slow down the fermentation process. Ideally, pickles should be stored at a temperature of about 50°F (10°C), in a cool pantry or a basement.
- This recipe is adapted from Aleksander Baron's cookbook "Kiszonki i Fermentacje" Pub. Pascal, 2016, p.86
- The fermentation tips & trick I've found at Lokalny Rolnik (an article in Polish).
Save this “Polish Dill Pickles” recipe to your “POLISH PICKLES” Pinterest board! And let’s be friends on Pinterest!