When we look for a good source of probiotics, we typically think about yogurt or kefir. But pickled vegetables can also be a great way to boost of these beneficial bacteria. Most of the pickles found on the supermarket shelf have been prepared with vinegar and sterilized. Both of these procedures kill all the microorganisms including probiotics. Natural fermentation, on the other hand, produces copious amounts of lactic acid bacteria that has been shown to have numerous benefits, from improved digestion to lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Home made pickles are incredibly easy to make. They take only about 24 hours to obtain the tangy crispiness that is a great addition to any dish, from burger to mashed potatoes (my personal favorite). Do not discard the marinating liquid – it has very pleasant taste and is bursting with good bacteria. Additional benefit of home made pickles is a much lower amount of added salt and sugar than the canned variety found in stores.
The recipe below comes directly from my mom’s recipe box. She uses dill seed from her garden instead of the leaves but I could not find it in stores here. Make sure to add just right amount of salt. If you add too much, lactic bacteria will never survive. Too little salt, on the other hand, means that other bacteria will have an opportunity to grow and spoil the pickles. It is also important to put them away into a fridge or basement when they start tasting how you like them, in about 24 hours. Lower temperature will slow down the fermentation. If you prefer them more tangy, leave them at room temperature for a few more hours.
- A bunch of fresh dill
- 1 pound of small cucumbers (Persian are perfect but if your store or market has others, they will also work. Just make sure they are not too big.)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 clean quart jar with a lid
- Wash the dill and the cucumbers.
- Cut the cucumbers in 4 parts lengthwise or leave them whole. Cut off the ends of the cucumbers if leaving them whole.
- Peel the garlic cloves and slice each into 4-5 pieces.
- Place half the dill, half the peppercorns and half the garlic on the bottom of a clean jar.
- Place the cucumbers vertically on the top.
- Cover the cucumbers with the rest of the dill, garlic and peppercorns.
- Prepare the brine: place the water, salt and sugar into a pan and heat until it begins to boil.
- Pour the brine over the pickles. Make sure to cover them with the brine completely.
- Cover with a lid and leave to ferment at room temperature for about 24 hours and then store in a fridge.