Have you ever wondered how those delicious pickled cucumbers or vegies were made when you grew up? I certainly did.
If you happen to ask any chef about pickles, they will highly likely start talking about vinegar, sugar etc. The art of preserving and enhancing vegetables with a salt brine, creating a lactic fermentation process is almost forgotten.
Thank Heavens and himself for Sandor Ellix Katz’ book: ‘Wild Fermentation’!!! It reconnected me with more than one traditional way of preserving and enhancing food.
These brine pickles have become an absolute staple in our kitchen. And here we go:
Cauliflower and Turmeric Brine Pickle
adapted from Sandor Ellix Katz’ recipe for Sour Pickles
Time frame 1 – 4 weeks
Will make enough to fill a 4.5l jar/crock pot.
- 2-3 heads of organic cauliflower, cut to small florets, stalks peeled and diced
- 1kg organic carrots, sliced into thin ‘coins’
- 500g fresh turmeric.
- 3-5 heads of garlic, peeled, cloves cut in half
- ½ t Grape tannin powder (home brewing supply shops). Or a handful fresh grape-, cherry-, oak-, and/or horseradish leaves (if available).
- 20+ black peppercorns
- 1T black mustard seeds
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves, optional
- 6 T sea salt and 2 liters filtered water (keep ratio to 3T salt/liter of water, if more liquid is required!)
- 2-3 cabbage leaves, outer
- Chop cauliflower into small florets. Peel the stems and dice. Using a mandolin, grate/cut Turmeric into small matchsticks.
- In a large bowl mix all the vegetables, turmeric and garlic. Keep a few cloves of garlic aside to put on top of the finished crock. Keep cabbage leaves aside.
- Dissolve the sea salt (6T/90ml) in 2 liters of water to create a brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
This concentration works well in most applications: 3T sea salt/1 liter water
- Clean the crock, then place at the bottom of it some of the mustard seeds, fresh grape leaves and a pinch of black peppercorns.
- Place the mixed vegetables in the crock. Disperse some more of the black mustard seeds, bay leaves and black pepper throughout. Finish with the remaining garlic cloves on the top.
- Pour brine over the vegetables. Fill the jar/crock almost to the top. Put folded cabbage leaves on the very top of the mix and press down. The cabbage leaves should be partially covered by the brine. Now put lid in place and close the crock/jar.
The jar in the picture has been fermenting for a week or so. You can see that some of the brine has been forced out by the fermentation. You can top that up with fresh brine (3T sea salt/liter of water)
- If the crock pot does not have a tight fitting lid or you are using a traditional Sauerkraut crock pot, place a clean plate over the vegetables then weigh it down with a jug filled with water or a boiled rock. If the brine doesn’t cover the weighed-down plate, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 T sea salt to each cup of water.
- Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out dust and flies and store it in a cool place.
- Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate and weight. Taste the pickles after a few days.
10. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock/jar every day.
11. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.
The same recipe works to create different colours, e.g. with zucchini (add tannin to keep crisp!!!), beetroot, carrots and garlic. This will be a deep purple pickle! Experiment with greens too! Silver beet pickles beautifully!
Feel free to play with other spices too! Ginger, coriander seeds, juniper berries etc.
I find it not necessary to weigh down the top of the pickles etc.. It is usually fine to fill the jar to the top with vegies and brine and then just seal the lid, put the jar into a bowl to ferment – to catch the brine that gets squeezed out during fermentation.
For metal lids I use a double sheet of cling film over the top of the jar before putting on the lid. That prevents the salt brine from corroding the lid.
Enjoy your pickles as a side dish, vegetable part of your meal or a yummy snack between meals!
PS: Yes, we’ll make these kind of pickles at the Raw Chef Trainings, Level 1.