Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Quick-fermented cucumbers.

A ‘nuclear’ pickle recipe from Ukraine | A Kitchen in Ukraine | Life and style | The Guardian

Makes 1 x 3 litre jar
1kg fresh organic cucumbers, the smallest ones you can find
20g sea salt flakes
1 litre mineral water
1 red chilli, whole but bruised with the blade of a knife
10 garlic cloves
1 tsp raw honey
2 sprigs of leaf celery
10 peppercorns (pink are good too!)
1-2 dill umbrellas or some bruised dill stalks
Horseradish leaves, if available
Blackcurrant leaves, if available

1 Sterilise your jar and a muslin cloth.
2 Prepare the cucumbers by cutting them into the sizes and shapes you like.
You can also leave them whole.
3 To make the brine, dissolve the salt in the water.
You may need to help things along by heating it slightly. (If you do this, add the herbs and spices too to infuse.)
Leave the brine to cool down to room temperature.
4 Now, pack the cucumbers, chilli, garlic, honey, celery, peppercorns, dill and leaves into the jar and cover with brine.
If the cucumbers bob up at the top, cover them with the sterilised muslin and weigh it down with something.
Sometimes I just wedge a couple of celery sticks across the neck of the jar to keep them under the brine.
5 Leave in a warm place in your kitchen for at least 24 hours.
Check the next day – if you see bubbles on the surface you are in luck.
Take one pickled cucumber piece out with a sterilised fork to check.
It should be pleasantly sour.
If they don’t taste too different, give them another day.
If the weather is cool, you may need three days.
6 When you are happy with the result and you don’t want them to become stronger, pop them into the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.
If you like some funk in your life, leave them for another few days.

Note: You shouldn’t have any problems in terms of infections.
But if you see any blue growth, just take it off with a spoon carefully.
Things are bad if you get slime in your brine, but this should not happen in such a short period of time.
Just make sure you sterilise the jar properly.

Olia Hercules is a chef, food writer and regular contributor to Cook.
She is author of Mamushka!

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