For a 1/2 gallon jar
- Whole cucumbers or cut into spears to fill jar (about 8 medium)
- Pot or sink full of ice water
- 8 cloves garlic
- (Sandor Katz says 3 whole bulbs, but he’s kind of a garlic freak. This was good enough for our family; fiddle with it for yours.)
- 1 Tbs mustard seeds (optional)
- 4–5 oak leaves, fresh from tree
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 head and 3 sprigs fresh dill
- 7 Tbs
- 2 Tbs sea
- 2 c. filtered water plus more to fill jar
- (optional) Clean plastic lid that fits inside the jar
- For at least 3 hours but no more than 8, soak the cucumbers in ice cold water. Really. Add lots of ice. Keep adding it. I even put mine in ice water in a pot in the fridge. This helps them to get and stay crisp, especially if your cukes aren’t directly from the garden that day.
- If you’re going to slice or cut your cukes into spears, just put them back into the ice water until you’re ready to get them all into the jar.
- Put garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, dill and oak leaves at the bottom of your half-gallon glass jar. (Note: I would put the sprigs of dill and half the garlic at the top after the cukes next time.)
- Pack the cucumbers in the jar. If you get them adjusted so they hold each other in and prevent floating, you’ll have fewer problems with mold on top.
- Mix 2 cups filtered water with the whey and sea salt until dissolves. Pour over cucumbers. Add more filtered water to fill the jar without about an inch from the top.
- If you have a plastic lid that fits inside your jar, place it on top of the cucumbers and weigh it down (with water or something clean and heavy – Katz recommends a boiled rock). Its job is to keep the cucumbers submersed in the water.
- Put the lid on tightly and leave in a warm place (anywhere in your kitchen in the summer should do) for 2-3 days. You can taste the pickles whenever you want. Moving them won’t hurt the fermentation, but you’ll want to arrange them so they’re submersed again.
- When you’re happy with the flavor, store the finished pickles in the refrigerator. You can take the plastic lid out at this point. I like them, although they’re still not as tasty as the store pickles I’m used to. I tell myself they’re so healthy, and that helps. My husband doesn’t like cucumbers (but does like conventional pickles), and he says they still taste too much like cucumbers, if that helps anyone.