Welcome to Last Crumb (Kosher Pickles)

When my brother, Will, and I were still small, my mother and father rigged up a grain mill attached to a bicycle so that they could grind fresh wholegrain flour on demand. That level of dedication may have blossomed in Northern California in the 1970s and died out there in the same decade, but somehow my brother and I grew up with a healthy respect for good food. And though we’ll go to almost any length to produce it, we also love to find a fantastic, quick preparation for, say, pickles.

This is from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. Once the pickles have reached the desired sourness, they can be kept indefinitely in the refrigerator. After a day or two on the counter top, you’ll begin to see small bubbles seeping up, a sign that the cucumbers are fermenting properly. It will probably take 3-4 days for them to become pickles (rather than the 24-48 hours Bittman suggests).

– Kosher Pickles: The Right Way
* 1/2 cup kosher
salt
* 1 cup boiling water

* 2 pounds small Kirby cucumbers, washed, and cut into halves or quarters

* 5 cloves or more garlic, peeled and smashed

* 1 large bunch dill, if desired, fresh and with flowers OR 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds, OR a
tablespoon of coriander seeds

1. In a large bowl, combine the salt and boiling water; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool down the mixture, then add all remaining ingredients.

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to hold the cucumbers under the water. Keep at room temperature.

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 2 hours if they are quartered, 4 hours if they are halved. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 hours, or even 48 hours, for them to taste “pickly” enough to suit your taste. When they are, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to ferment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 30 pickle quarters.

Note: 9/9/07

Kosher salt generally comes in flakes rather than granules. The flakes dissolve easily, and have a less pungent flavor than table salt. Due to the shape of the granules, there is also less salt in a pinch of kosher salt than in a pinch of table salt.  Both Will and our friend Lowell followed this recipe using other types of salt and and found the pickles a bit too salty, though the saltiness did lessen in the course of the fermentation process.

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