Fermented: Jalapeño Dill Cucumbers
This is the first of soon to be many documentations of a fermentation process in this space. Something that I have fervently taken up in the last year or so is fermenting; not so much the kind which produces ethyl-alcohol (what most think of when thinking about fermentation,) but rather the kind that gives "good bacteria" a comfortable medium to grow and thrive.
Something that is not stressed upon almost at all in western food culture is how beneficial it is to feed ones' micro biome with probiotic goodness. Many recognize probiotics if they have accidentally stumbled into a Wholefoods or had an infomercial try to sell you a months' supply of probiotic capsules for two easy payments of $29.95. Ignoring the deluge of probiotic gimmicks, fermentation is truly an amazing alchemy that has so many nutritional benefits and the most important thing to take away from this is that it is easy and you can do it in the comfort of your home. It is a process that has been practiced for thousands of years and in this space, on this ambiguous design portfolio website that is now a pseudo food and travel blog, I stand (or rather sit) before you today championing the perpetuation of this process
What I want to do in this space is inculcate you: the viewer, with insight into the world of fermentation and other processes to learn with me as I navigate the haze and hopefully deliver halfway decent (dare I say, maybe even tasty) recipes that you can try at home. Begin feeding your own micro biome and learn more about these underrepresented processes.
If you are really interested in fermentation, you should pick up The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Katz.
We will start here with the fermented dill-style-jalapeño cukes.
Fermented: Jalapeño Dill Cucumbers
This recipe can be extrapolate to pretty much any size. I did this fermentation in a quart mason jar and that is what this recipe is based.
3 Cucumbers (hopefully local and organic)
3 medium-sized Jalapeños
4 cups of Water: Tap water, depending on your area, tends to be florinated and contain chlorine. Chlorine can impede fermentation so spring or distilled is your best bet.
4 tablespoons of Sea Salt: Preferably the vital mineral Celtic sea salt blend.
2 teaspoons of Cane Sugar (just to help the bacteria grow)
4 Garlic Cloves (Cruched)
1 Bayleaf (to keep the cukes crisp)
1 handful of Dill
Directions: (The Reader's Digest version)
1. Combine 1 cup water : 1 tablespoon sea salt until jar is about 2/3 full
2. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cane sugar
3. Throw in your dill and bayleaf
4. Cut your cucumbers and jalapeños. Using a mandolin will provide consistency in thickness to your vegetables)
5. Add your veggies
6. Wait 2-4 weeks
7. Enjoy and refrigerate after opening
The illustrated and notated version!
One kit I have been using recently is the FARMcurious fermentation kit that goes on top of the mason jar that allows carbon dioxide to escape. Also to note, this fixture will prevent mold that will sometimes grow on the surface of your ferments after they are left out for a while. The mold is harmless and can be scraped off the top and disposed of. With this kit, little to no mold will grow even after being left out for weeks on end.
A preferred sea salt for fermentation is Celtic Sea Salt: Vital Mineral Blend. It can be found in most health food stores. It is non-iodized and contains a bunch of nutrients not found in your run-of-the-mill sea salt.
A lot of salt brine fermentations call for about a 1 cup water : 1 tablespoon sea salt ratio. If you are not into salty ferments then try a half or two-thirds of a tablespoon of salt for every 1 cup of water
Start by dissolving sea salt in water together in the mason jar until it is completely combined as a solution. You have successfully made a brine! EASY PEASY. At this point if you could add your cukes and call it a day. In a week or two you would have basic lacto-fermented cucumbers. But lets add a few more ingredients to give your ferments bold flavor and unique character.
Remember to buy organic, non-GMO, and when possible, local vegetables. All of these vegetables don't know it yet, but they are about to dive into a salty bath of deliciousness.
Get 4-5 cloves of garlic.
I suggest using a garlic crusher because it will release more flavor than keeping the cloves whole. Crush the garlic and add it to the brine.
Add a handful of Dill
Add bayleaf. A bayleaf will keep the ferments crisp. Keeping vegetables (In this case cucumbers) out at room temperature for weeks will cause them to get soft. We want our ferments crisp.
Cut up the jalapeños. Damn, Jalapeños; you so picante
Cut up the cucumbers. Mandolines provide quick and consistent cuts. There are a lot of mandolines out on the market. One that came highly recomended to me (and the one that I ended up getting) is the Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus Mandoline
Paper thin, consistent cuts.
Make sure you mix the cucumbers and jalapeños before adding them to the brine.
Fill your jar of brine with your veggies! This is the last step, yay!
In 3-4 weeks, these babies will be full of healthy, live bacteria that will make your gut oh-so happy!
Thanks for reading! Keep feeding your micro biome!