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Homemade Dill Pickles – Nothing Better for a Summer Picnic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Dill Pickles                      

 2 lbs. small pickling cucumbers

1 quart water

3 level Tablespoons sea salt

7 cloves of garlic peeled

1 Tablespoon whole peppercorns

5 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon whole mustard seeds

16 small dried red peppers

½ gallon jar

3 umbels of dried dill

5 fresh grape leaves

  1. Heat the water and sea salt lightly until the salt dissolves and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Wash the cucumbers and drain.
  3. Wash the grape leaves and pinch off the stem, also pinching off a little of the leaf where it joins the stem, as this holds dirt.
  4. Place the grape leaves in the bottom of the jar. They will also stick to the sides of the jar if they are a little wet.
  5. Pack the cucumbers tightly in the jar standing them vertically.
  6. Distribute the other ingredients as the cucumbers are added to the jar.
  7. Poor the brine over the ingredients enough to cover the cucumber tops. The tops of the cucumbers must be covered in brine to prevent spoilage.
  8. Place a piece of cheesecloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band.
  9. Let sit at room temperature for 3-5 days. Lactic acid fermentation speeds up in warmer temperatures and slows down in cooler temperatures. You will know when fermentation is active when a few small bubbles begin to appear in the jar and it starts to smell a little sour.
  10. Place the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator. The dill pickles will still ferment very slowly in the refrigerator, but will keep for months, unless of course they get eaten sooner.

Makes 2 quarts or ½ gallon dill pickles. The proportion of salt is 3 Tablespoons sea salt to 1 quart of water. To measure how much salt water is needed to make your dill pickles, you can pack your jar with cucumbers and then fill the jar with water. Pour off the water into a measuring cup and you will know exactly how much brine to make.

 The grape leaves are optional, but the tannins in the leaves make the pickles crispier. If you do not have access to grapes, wild grapes are plentiful and may be used as well. Select newer growth leaves that are more tender.

© Macrobiotics America

 

 


Olive Making (Salt Cured) by Cynthia Briscoe

Olive Making (Salt Cured)

by Cynthia Briscoe

     Oroville, CA, where I live,  claims fame as the home of the canned olive. When a woman named Mrs. Ehmann found herself widowed and penniless, she got busy and invented the canned olive, today commonly fitted as a joke by kids over their digits at the holiday table. The Mediterranean climate here in Oroville is perfectly suited to the growth of this illustrious fruit. There is even a town named Palermo nearby since it reminded the settlers of the Italian town.

Olive trees abound here, as well as abandoned orchards that gradually succumb to housing projects and apartment complexes. Some survive the dozer and provide landscaping shade in schoolyards, parks, and around homes, as they require no water during the blazing hot summers. For most folks today, the fruits are a nuisance, staining their patios and sidewalks, but for me, they are a glorious treasure longing to be acknowledged and touched by human hands.

The late fall and winter months provide an abundance of ripe olives. The colors are a rich and vibrant deep purple, almost black. There may be a few in the mix that are maroon in color. Throw in a few olive leaves and the palette of color will make your heart sing. Combine the olive picking with a picnic, children, grandchildren or a dear companion, and the flavor of your home cured olives will be even more delicious.

Salt cured olives are so incredibly simple to make that it causes one to wonder why more people don’t, especially when you view the price tag on naturally cured olives. Perhaps folks just accept Mrs. Ehmann’s version of the dark, canned olive as the only way to have an olive. Probably they have not yet tasted the rich, robust, complex flavor of salt cured olives, or experienced the contrast of cool earth seeping through the soles of your shoes, balanced by the warm sun knitting rays into the back of your sweater…or a blue sky floating cloud patterns above your head whenever you look up to reach a higher branch heavy with olives. Mix that with the sounds of children, flushing wings, birdsong and the rubbery firm sound of olives bouncing into a bucket after picking: authentically life-delicious!

 

Recipe for Salt Cured Black Olives

 2 parts olives

1 part salt

Pick ripe olives from the tree. Resist the temptation to collect fallen olives from the ground as those are more susceptible to spoilage.

Sort through the olives and pick out any remaining stems and discard any olives that show signs of insect wounding.

Weigh the olives and write down the weight.

-Take a small sharp knife and cut a slit in each olive. Place them in a bowl large enough for washing the olives. (The slit helps to leech the bitterness from the olives.)

-Cover the olives with water. Pour off any floating debris, rinse again and drain.

Weigh out the salt. You need an amount of salt that is ½ the weight of the olives. If you are doing a small amount of olives, it may be affordable to use your expensive natural sea salt. If processing a larger volume of olives, use pickling salt that has no additives or you can use inexpensive rock salt (we use this for salt baths). This unprocessed solar dried salt can be purchased at home improvement stores for $5-$6 per 35 lb. bag. You can use it in the rock form, but I like to put in in the blender and grind it up as it dissolves better during pickling.

Mix the olives and salt together.

Slip the olives into a cotton bag or old pillowcase.

Tie off the bag and hang either outside or inside. I have some hooks in the ceiling of my front porch or you can hang them inside a garage or other protected area. Keep in mind that the salt will pull dark liquid from the olives that can stain cement or walls. Be sure to put a bucket beneath the olives to catch this liquid. If you should hang the bag from a tree, keep in mind that the dark liquid is also very salty, which will kill plants. Some people say rain does not harm the olives, but if I hang them outside exposed to the elements, I make a rain jacket for them by cutting a corner from a plastic bag and slipping the rope through this small hole.

Cure for 4 to 6 weeks. Once or twice per week, mix the olives. Simply lift up on the bottom of the bag and gently mix by rolling the olives around inside the bag. After a month or so, taste the olives. When the flavor is to your liking, the olives are done. These olives will naturally have more of a bitter flavor, but the bitterness lessens with curing time.

Remove the olives from the bag and quickly rinse off excess salt. Drain well. Perhaps spreading out in a single layer may be a good idea if you are storing them long term.

-These olives are delicious to me just like this, but usually I dress them with herbs and olive oil, and store them in jars in a cool place for 3-6 months. They will keep a year or longer in the fridge.

– To dress the olives toss with enough organic olive oil to coat them. Fresh or dried herbs may be added such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano. I found that fresh garlic tends to grow mold, so if you like garlic add it to a smaller amount of olives and store in the refrigerator.

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