Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fermented Bread and Butter Pickles (GAPS-legal)

We have a reliable harvest of cucumbers coming from the garden this year, so I've been making pickles.  In addition to making dill pickles, I recently came up with a recipe for bread and butter pickles.  These pickles are crispy, spicy, and delicious!

UPDATE: this recipe has been updated.  See the latest version here.

Fermented Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 1 quart
  • 3-4 cucumbers
  • Big bowl of cold water and ice*
  • 1 Tb pickling spice**
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • ~20 celery leaves (you could substitute a little bit of celery seed, or even a stalk of celery)
  • 1/2 cup raw mild honey
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 Tb celtic sea salt
  • 2 Tb whey
  • Optional: 3 oak leaves (or substitute cherry, horseradish, or grape leaves)***
  • Equipment needed: quart mason jar, rock for weighing down the cucumbers (boil the rock in water for several minutes to make sure it is very clean)
  1. Soak the whole cucumbers in ice water for 5-8 hours.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine pickling spice, mustard powder, honey, vinegar, salt, and whey.  Stir well to dissolve the honey and salt.
  3. Put two oak leaves and the celery leaves in the bottom of a quart mason jar. 
  4. Remove and discard the ends from the cucumbers.  Slice the cucumbers; I used a mandoline to slice the cucumbers and it worked wonderfully. 
  5. Add the cucumber slices to the mason jar, packing them down if needed.
  6. Pour the honey/vinegar/spice mixture over the cucumber slices.  
  7. Pack down the cucumbers so that they are covered by the liquid. If your cucumbers keep floating up to the top, try weighing them down.  I used a rock from my yard to hold the cukes down (I boiled the rock in water for a few minutes to make sure it was nice and clean, and then cooled it down before putting it on top of the cucumbers.)  There should be at least 1-inch of head space at the top of the jar.
  8. If necessary, add a little filtered water to fully cover the cucumbers.  If you do this, make sure the water gets mixed well with the other liquid in the jar.
  9. Scrape any spices or cucumber bits that are stuck to the jar back down into the liquid.  Then use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the inside of the jar above the liquid.  (This will help in making sure that the ferment works well and no funky stuff grows at the top of the jar.)
  10. Put a lid on the jar and leave at room temperature for 2 days; then transfer to the refrigerator. You can taste-test a pickle slice to make sure they are ready before moving them to the fridge. If you'd like them a little more pickled, leave them out for another day.
*Soaking the cucumbers in ice and water is one of the keys to having crispy pickles.  If you like mushy pickles, feel free to skip the soaking step!
**I buy Frontier brand pickling spice from the bulk section at the natural foods grocery store.  The pickling spice is a mixture of organic yellow mustard, organic cinnamon chips, organic allspice, organic dill seed, organic celery seed, organic bay leaf, organic mild chilies, organic cloves, organic caraway, and organic ginger root.
***The oak leaves help the cucumbers to stay crispy during fermentation.

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop!


Anonymous said...

How cool is this! My dad was just telling me that my grandmother made fermented bread-and-butters, and I couldn't imagine how that worked! I wonder if her recipe was similar to yours (I could ask, I suppose).

Mrs Johnson said...

Thanks, Sarah - if we haven't run out of cukes yet, I'm going to give this a try. Looks yummy!

Mary Lewis said...

This looks really good. I did not know oak leaves would work in stead of grape. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can use a starter culture if I don't have whey right?

Sarah Smith said...

Yes, you should be able to use a vegetable starter culture instead of whey (although I've never used that). Let me know how they turn out!

Lrimerman said...

I can't use whey, think they would work without it, just take a bit longer to ferment? Also, I don't have a source of the leaves, wonder if you need them, I suppose they just won't stay crisp.

Sarah Smith said...

If you leave out the whey, you'll probably need to double the salt (at least, that is what they say to do to make sauerkraut without whey). If you try it, please let me know how it works! Alternatively, you could use a vegetable starter culture, like this one:

Sarah Smith said...

And yes, you can leave out the leaves. The pickles just won't be as crispy that way.

Tara said...

I'd like to make pickles in order to use the juice in soups and such in the early stages of GAPS, and eventually eat the pickles too. I saw some small cucumbers at the farmers market and asked if they were pickling cucumbers and they said no. But reading your post, I'm wondering if fermented pickles have to be made with particular "pickling" cucumbers or if any cucumbers will do. The ones I saw were skinny and shorter than typical, thicker cucumbers. Is there a type that works better for making pickles, or does it really matter?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Tara,
I don't think it matters if they are pickling cucumbers or not. I've used a mixture of ones from my garden (which are for pickling) and some from my mom's garden (which are NOT for pickling). I can't even tell a difference once they are fermented.

Tara said...

Thanks, Sarah! The skinny ones looked good to me, but the lady at the market told me the pickling ones have a little "knob" on the end, I think? Of course, when they are referring to pickling, I suppose they mean vinegar. Perhaps it's different when fermenting - more forgiving of what type is used. I'll give it a try. I have your brisket recipe cooking in my crockpot today. I got a late start and hope it's ready before we are too hungry tonight! :)

Kris J said...

I'm guessing it's important to use a raw apple cider vinegar, which also provides microbes for the ferment. I make a similar plain version of pickles based on a traditional Scandinavian recipe - just use thin sliced cukes, raw honey, raw ACV, salt, and some water to cut the vinegar a bit. These wouldn't keep as long, but they are delightful.

Sunny said...

I made these tonight. It's going to be a tough wait to try them out :)

Anonymous said...

Frontier makes different picking spices.. which one did you use?

Sarah Smith said...

I think the ones I bought were called either "mild" or "sweet". It's hard to remember now as I bought them many months ago.

Edna London said...

You can also put the rock in a plastic ziplock to weigh the cucumbers down.

Sarah Smith said...

I'm personally not comfortable with having a piece of plastic inside a ferment, especially one that is fairly acidic from the vinegar.

Edna London said...

I never thought of that...thanks

Mrs. Mac said...

I'm trying this recipe tonight .. at least soaking the pickles.

Melissa said...

I made six quarts of these the other day and they are so delicious! Thanks for the recipe.