Deli-Style Fermented Sour Pickles

(Makes 3 quarts.)

Note: These old-fashioned sours are crisp, flavorful and full of pucker. Select only small, straight Kirby pickling cucumbers so they fit harmoniously in a jar and can be brined whole. The cucumbers need to soak for 30 minutes in ice water. The pickles need at least 3 days’ fermentation time, or more as needed. The fermented pickles can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. From Cathy Barrow, the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving.”

• 12 small or medium Kirby (pickling) cucumbers (see Note)

• 8 c. filtered, non-chlorinated water

• 1/4 c. kosher or sea salt

• 12 garlic scapes or 9 large cloves fresh spring garlic, optional

• 3 fresh dill seed heads or 3 tsp. dried dill seed, optional

• 1 jalapeño pepper, cut into 9 thin slices, optional

• 1 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns, optional


Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the cucumbers, swishing them around to dislodge any dirt and to plump them before brining. Soak for 30 minutes, then remove them and scrub away any remaining soil.

Combine 8 cups water and salt in a medium pot over high heat; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. This will be the base brine; remove from the heat and cool completely.

If you are using any of the optional flavoring components (garlic scapes, garlic, fresh dill seed heads or dried dill seed, jalapeño and/or black peppercorns), divide them among the 3 jars.

Trim off and discard 1/8-inch from both ends of each cucumber. Pack 3 into the jar, standing up, then place another cucumber across the others, essentially pinning them down. This method holds the cucumbers under the brine.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers, covering them completely. Loosely cap the jars; set them inside a pan or on a dish to catch any spillover. Place the jars out of the sun on the counter for 3 days. Every day, loosen the caps and “burp” the jars, then replace the cap to continue the fermentation. The water will become cloudy, and lazy bubbles might be evident; this is a good thing.

After 3 days, slice off a piece of one pickle from each jar and taste it. Is it sour enough for you? If not, allow the pickles to continue to ferment, tasting regularly. (Cathy Barrow suggests a week will do the trick; in theory, the pickles can ferment for weeks longer.) Once the pickles taste good to you, tighten the caps; place them in the refrigerator (for up to 1 month).


Fermented Spicy Gingered Carrot-Kohlrabi Slaw

Makes 3 cups (12 servings).

Note: This slaw is sweet and salty, spicy and bubbly. Use it as a condiment for grilled meat and fish, but try it layered on a sandwich or topping your taco or banh mi, too. You’ll need 1 wide-mouth quart jar, plus 1 standard 8-ounce jar, with clean screw-on caps for each. (The smaller jar will be used as a weight for keeping the fermenting vegetables submerged.) The vegetables need 3 days’ fermentation time, and up to 1 week for a more sour-tasting slaw. The fermented slaw can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. From Cathy Barrow, author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving.”

• lb. carrots, scrubbed well, then grated or cut into julienne (thin matchsticks)

• 8 oz. kohlrabi, peeled and grated or cut into julienne

• 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt

• 1 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger root

• 1 Thai (bird’s-eye) chile pepper, pierced with the tip of a knife, optional


Combine the carrots, kohlrabi and salt in a medium bowl (not plastic). Use your clean hands to work the salt through the vegetables. Let sit for 30 minutes; a brine will develop. Knead in the ginger.

Transfer the vegetables and brine to the larger jar. Press down firmly with your fist, or with a clean stainless-steel spoon, to encourage the brine to cover the vegetables by about 1 inch. Drop in the chile pepper, if using.

(If there is insufficient brine, boil 1 quart of water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, cool thoroughly and pour in the amount of brine needed to completely cover the vegetables.)

Fill the smaller jar with water, pie weights or dried beans; cap tightly. Place this weighted jar inside the larger jar to keep the vegetables submerged.

Check the vegetables daily to make sure they remain submerged. It’s important to “burp” the jar once a day by simply removing the smaller weighted jar, then replacing it.

Taste the fermented slaw after 3 days. If it is sour enough for your taste, place it in the refrigerator; that will halt the fermentation process. If you would like a more sour slaw, continue to ferment, checking the flavor every day, for up to 1 week. After the slaw is fermented to your liking, seal tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 18 Fat 0 g

Sodium 175 mg Saturated fat 0 g

Carbohydrates 4 g Calcium 15 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable.