Grape Leaves, Cukes, Sweet Peppers and Garlic
So I had a few handfuls of cucumbers left over from making my Kick-ass Southwest Monroe Bucket Cukes and they had to be fermented!
The other pickle I love, besides those, and maybe even more so, are these ones:
Half-Sours, Straight Up.
It's another recipe from my beloved, Quick Pickles by Schlesinger, Willoughby and George.
Of course, after all these years, I have tweaked the recipe, and really, that is such a lovely thing about pickling and fermenting veggies, you can do it to whatever you want!
I had a bunch of sweet peppers left over that were already "stabbed and slit twice." So along with a Huge Bunch of Grape Leaves, I made my version of Half-Sours, Straight Up.
Layering. More cukes on top. Then more grape leaves.
The Half-Sours, Straight Up are described as such, "Here it is, your chance to have a real, honest-to God pickle barrel in your own home. A lot of people think of fermented pickles, particularly cucumbers, first and foremost as dill pickles. But we made this particular version without the complication of dill. We did so to allow you to taste the mellow flavor of the brine without much else besides a hint of garlic and perhaps some pepper-and also because, quite frankly, not everyone likes dill.
Upon tasting this pickle, one friend said it was 'like eating the ocean.' In some cultures, fermented brines like this are drunk for refreshment. To us, this particular brine, which we call 'deli nectar,' makes the perfect medium for poaching seafood."
The plate to hold it all down under the brine and keep it submerged.
Basic recipe for Half-Sours, Straight Up:
8 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed
2 quarts pickling cucumbers, 3 to 5 inches long, blossom ends removed
2 small leafy celery hearts
2 to 4 small hot fresh chiles of your choice, pricked with a fork (optional)
8 tsp kosher or other course salt
6 cups water
In a large nonreactive wide-mouth jar, crock, or pail, arrange the garlic, cucumbers, celery, and chiles. Combine the salt and water, stir briefly to dissolve the salt, and pour into the jar. Place a large plate over the cucumbers, and weigh it down with a clean stone or other nonreactive weight; the salt solution should cover the cucumbers by about 2 inches. Cover the plate with a clean cloth and store at room temperature for 4 or 5 days, taking care to keep the contents submerged at all times and skimming any foam that may form on the surface of the brine each day. look for fermentation bubbles slowly rising to the surface after 2 or 3 days.
When the bubble action seems to have stopped and the cucumbers have turned pale green inside and out (4 to 6 days), give them a try; they should have a sharp crunch and rich, deep pickle flavor. Immediately cover the container and refrigerate.
These pickles should retain their good crunch and flavor for 3 to 5 weeks, covered and refrigerated.
Well washed bottle of cleaning vinegar used as weight.
Here, again, I use a lot of grape leaves to help these stay fresh and crisp and it really works. I have kept these close to a year in the "bickle" fridge. The tannin in the grape leaves really does the job.
Here is some more on these pickles from the book: "Incidentally, this is a particularly good pickle to make with kids. It's easy, and it has that aspect of magic and alchemy that kids find so appealing; they love to open the crock every day to see if the fermentation process is done. Beside, skimming the foam each day gives them a sense of full participation, a feeling that is hard for younger children to achieve with forms of cooking that require heat."
I gotta admit. When they said it was like "eating the ocean," I was sold! Bring it, baby! I just knew I would love them.
So what are ya waiting for?! Go make some pickles, people!
Enjoy the crunch and tang! Yummm!
Off to veg (and ferment!),