Monday, September 7, 2009

what a crock of pickles

sorry, but I relish the pun. oh dear...

I've wanted to make proper lacto-fermented pickles for a couple of years now but hadn't made the leap until this past week. Partially this is because I am lucky enough to have Real Pickles local and available at my Co-op. Also, though it took me a while to realize this, I was held back by the lack of a proper fermenting crock. Now, I know you can make pickles in a jar or even a food-grade plastic bucket but I have this, some might say endearing, need to have projects look a certain way. Cooking should be done with the right apron, oatmeal should be stirred with the right spoon, picnics should be on the right blanket. It's not a need to buy things - truly the things that are right are often hand-made - it's a need to have the tools that have the right soul to do the job, if that makes any sense. It's as if the children will sleep better if they are under a blanket I knit, the water will taste colder if it is poured from a pitcher I bought from a potter at a local fair, and the pickles will ferment best if in the right crock. I think part of what held me back from trying to make them was the lack of the right vessel. Like it or not, silly or wise, I just could not get excited about a plastic bucket of pickles. The ceramic crocks are expensive and heavy so the shipping is beastly. So I continued to buy pickles.

This last week two wonderful things coincided; my pickling cukes started to flourish in the garden and I was gifted my dream pickling crock. This clay pot belong to a friend who Andy and I used to live with. I always loved it and when she asked if I wanted it because she was trying to clear out the house a bit I was so pleased. I did, however, have a moment of remorse while driving home wondering if I was was taking clutter from someone else's house into my own. Would this just be a "pretty" collecting dust or could I make use of it? I put it on the shelf and then went out to survey the garden.

The pieces clicked mentally into place. It was a crock. A big crock. With a wide mouth and a lid. Hello pickles!

I used the method outlined in Wild Fermentation and they came out so well. I weighed a plate down with a boiled rock (which Miryam loved "um...mama...are you cooking a stone?") to keep the pickles under the surface of the brine and in a week we started eating them. Made my own cukes, with local garlic and dill - they are so tasty and I am so proud. Andy had some friends over to play cards and they ate them along with their beer. I knew that pickle making was simple but I was actually quite amazed at such stellar results from something so dead easy. If you haven't given it a try, get some pickling cucumbers while you can and make some pickles.

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