I cannot believe I’m going to utter the following words.
Yikes! I said it! There are not many foods that I don’t like. I have a very very diverse palate. Hello, I love liver. I would order it in a restaurant when I was a kid. Escargo? Yes please! There are actually only 2 foods that come to mind when asked what my least favorite foods are. Peas and sweet pickles. (You’ll read about my experience with peas on a future post).
33 years of strongly disliking a food to all of a sudden liking said food is very disturbing. Very. I am always open to change, willing to try new things. I’ve seen people post on Facebook about making bread and butter pickles and them tasting incredible so I had to give it a shot. Maybe lactofermenting them is the difference. Maybe not making them sickeningly sweet was the trick. I don’t know but I sure like them. Still not the level of adoration that Hot Pickles hold but close.
I like to have fun mixing and matching different spices but feel free to use a pickling spice blend if you don’t have all these spices on hand. I also experimented with the brine. I did one with 3.5% brine like I do for my kosher dills and another with a 2% solution. We use a stronger brine for cucumbers normally because they are prone to spoilage but 3.5% seemed like it might be too salty for a sweet and sour pickle. I do like the taste of the 2% brine better and had no spoilage but if you’ve had trouble in the past with spoilage, you might want to try a higher percentage brine like 2.5-3%. Also please note, if you use honey, you’ll want to heat it up to kill the natural occurring yeast and bacteria. I know, bummer, that’s good stuff. But it might make the ferment wonky so I opted for better safe than sorry.
Sweet and Spicy Pickles
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp coriander seed
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (I like things HOT! Use less, more or none at all if it suits you)
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 1 1/2L of cucumbers, sliced
- a few tannin rich leaves (grape, oak, raspberry, horseradish, tea leaves…)
- 2-3.5% brine (see my note about brine above)
Heat up about 1 cup of brine and melt honey/syrup/sugar in it. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. In your fermenting jar, place your tannin rich leaves and spices. Pack cucumber slices in as tightly as you can and layer with onion slices, fill to no higher than the shoulder. I like to mix a few whole red peppers in for prettiness. Make sure your sweet and salty brine is cool and pour over everything. Add more brine as needed, filling to just above the shoulder making sure everything is submerged. Using a Dunk’R, push everything under the brine. Secure the top, fill your airlock and leave at room temp for 5-7 days or until bubble activity stops. Place in cold storage and enjoy!
ETA: These don’t seem to keep very long. They continue to ferment in the fridge and eventually turn sour. These are best eaten up within a month, maybe 2 months.