Bob Hutkins, author of Microbiology and Technology of Fermented Foods
and professor of Food Science
at the University of Nebraska
will be on the show this Friday, talking about pickles and the art and science of food fermentation. He's shared with us a simple recipe for salt-brined pickles.
With the caveat that I've not done this myself, here's the basic recipe:
Make a 5 % salt brine (buy a salinometer
to get this right)
Mix brine with pickling cucumbers
1 to 1 by weight in a small barrel or mason jars
Take a plate or a baggy with brine in it and lay it on top of the cucumbers to weigh them down -- the idea is to squeeze out the air and create an anaerobic environment
After a few days, fermentation should begin and you should see some bubbling
When the brine tastes tart (it's safe to taste)--I'd probably give it a week at room temperature--you probably have pickles
There's little opportunity for harmful pathogens to grow in this kind of brine. I'm not aware of any adverse effect by pickle-making at home, provided you haven't improperly canned them.
Have you made your own pickles before? How'd they turn out? If you have a favorite pickle recipe, please share it in the comments.
**** First time fermenters, it's important to consult several sources for recipes and precautions before you begin. Food safety is nothing to fool around with.