Agroecology from A to Z

Adventures in Agroecology and Food Systems

Pickling adventures continued

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I bought some pickling cucumbers at the Prescott Farmers Market earlier this summer. When I mentioned to Matt, one  of Jenner Farm’s managers also farming commercially as Rabbit Run Farms, that I had started a small crock of pickles he got a strange look in his eye.

He said, “I have 150 pounds of harvested pickling cucumbers, no cold storage and a 55 gallon food grade drum.”

I said, “It’s on!”

Eleanore, a brave agroecology student, volunteered her house for a pickling party. Eleanore and I processed all of the cucumbers and got the crock fermenting in her living room. She says she can hear the bubbles rising at night when it’s quiet. It’s been almost 4 weeks, so these pickles are close to ready for de-brining and additional processing. I can’t wait!

Me cleaning and prepping the fermentation vessel

That’s a lot of cucumbers

More grape leaves from the Prescott College edible campus gardens

Still a lot of cucumbers, soon to be a lot of pickles!

Turkey roasting bags filled with brine as a seal

Eleanore was very brave to have this fermentation vessel in her living room!

A note to anyone attempting large batches:

We had really bad luck with the 3 gallon turkey roasting bags that the USDA recommends to use for a seal for the long brine process. They kept leaking! Luckily we filled them with brine, so when they leaked, they did not disturb the salt content of the pickling brine. While troubleshooting, Eleanore and I removed 16 gallons of brine and replaced the turkey roasting bags with 2.5 gallon freezer storage bags and have had no additional problems with the seal. The brine we pulled off during troubleshooting smelled so delicious, like deli pickle juice, that I wanted to drink it. So I think this batch will turn out well. We’ll see soon enough.

Update: The pickles turned out great, and we sold a bunch of them as a fundraiser to support Sandor Katz’s visit to Prescott College for Food Day 2012.

I admit I'm looking a bit like a mad scientist here, but after waiting 5 weeks to see if we had pickles or a huge slimy mess that we would have to compost, I was pretty darn excited that it worked!

I admit I’m looking a bit like a mad scientist here, but after waiting 5 weeks to see if we had pickles or a huge slimy mess that we would have to compost, I was pretty darn excited that it worked!

Lactic acid fermented cucumbers after 5 weeks of fermentation

Lactic acid fermented cucumbers after 5 weeks of fermentation

Pickles waiting to be sold in delicious brine

Pickles waiting to be sold in delicious brine, they were so crunchy you could hear it when someone next to you was eating one!

Eleanore and Nicole selling pickles at Rabbit Run Farm's booth at market

Eleanore and Nicole selling pickles at Rabbit Run Farm’s booth at market

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