So yeah, I saw this Smitten Kitchen post, and got a wild hare about…pickling. This morning, bright and early, I went a-marketing for mustard seed and veggies to soak in brine. I even went a little wild…and bought some cabbage. Now, I dislike cabbage as a rule, but I’m going to see if pickling it–and making my own sauerkraut–will help me over my fear and distaste. Also, homemade sauerkraut is supposed to do good things for your gut bacteria.

And now…for the pickle odyssey! (Pickdyssey? Odypickle?)

Cup of water, cup of vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed…multiply as needed…

Mustard seed

The dough bucket on the right is full of a poolish-based rye-and-whole-wheat bread dough undergoing its bulk rise. Which is in the oven as I type this. Kitchen chemistry and biology is pretty damn awesome.

Fermentation ahoy!

Chop, chop. Chop chop chop. Chop. Chop. And chop some more.

Slice, slice, slice...

What's up, Doc?

I realized that I could spend a LONG TIME julienning everything, and realized at the same moment that I have a very spiffy food processor. This provoked a happy kitchen dance, during which I almost, almost forgot I was holding a knife.

But not quite.

Keep 'em separated

Prep bowls

Bowls and bowls

There was even a bowl of odds and ends for the cavies! No cabbage, though. If they get gas and blow up like little balloons, the kids would be very upset. I’d be pretty vexed too.

For the cavies

That’s cabbage down at the far end, waiting for the brine all by its lonesome. I do have some sauerkraut on the kitchen counter, but the jar here is pickled instead of fermented. I am not sure how either of them are gonna pan out, I have to tell you. At least it’ll be a fun science experiment.

Cabbage on the far end

I had to make another batch (or three) of brine while the jars waited patiently.

Waiting for the brine

So colorful!

Aren’t they pretty?

Marching Pickles

The aftermath. Not so pretty. Fortunately the dishwasher hasn’t given up on me yet. I <3 my dishwasher.

The Aftermath

Whew. Picklin’ ain’t easy. I’ll keep you guys updated on the sauerkraut…

12 Replies to “Pickling!”

  1. I am in awe and envy, And please, do, update us on the brined not fermenting cabbage..

  2. *Snort* Picklin’ Ain’t Easy t-shirts are going to be flying off the shelves this Christmas!

  3. Homemade sauerkraut is scary* but well worth it – so much better than even the premium-priced stuff you find in the stores. Plus, it has pride of creation, like growing your own lettuce and tomatoes.

    *Nothing explosive about it (as in homemade beer); just the scariness that comes from venturing into new territory.

  4. Nice! I had to go a-marketing for some dill to do our first batch of pickles from our garden this season. Still working on perfecting the recipe, though.

  5. I’m wondering if it’s worth getting a crock with a stone in it. I figure if I like this initial batch, I may start submerge-fermenting other things too. Dill pickles. Daikon radishes. EVERYTHING WILL BE FERMENTED.

  6. I’m wondering if maybe just a salt brine with dill in it would work? But there is vinegar to consider. Always vinegar to consider. I’m not sure about the proportion of sugar I’d want in a dill pickle, either, if any.

  7. My mom made pickles and sauerkraut when I was a kid. We didn’t go through a lot of those things so even with a large family about a dozen jars total would last from one year’s pickling season to the next. We had a dark and quiet spot in the basement where those jars would sit alongside the homemade jams and jellies and it was always such a delight grabbing something from that spot because we always knew it would taste so superior to anything store bought.

    Unfortunately, she had the recipes in her head and never wrote them down. I don’t have a huge fondness for sauerkraut especially, but her recipe was more akin to the savory kind you get at Der Rheinlander or Gustav’s, and that kind I quite like (especially with a spicy sausage and a touch of grainy mustard). I made a convert of my husband, who also didn’t care much for sauerkraut until he tried it there, and now we both bemoan the fact that sauerkraut is so easy to make, but we need a recipe to do so and I’ve never been able to find one with the “extra stuff” like mom’s that made for that more mellow and savory flavor.


    Hope yours turn out great – I’ll be watching for the after report when you dig into everything sometime in the future.

  8. Absolutely! I don’t have a stone and use a small plate with a jar of water atop it. It works, but a purpose-made crock with stone would be much more convenient.

  9. I have tried Smitten Kitchen’s recipe myself. Due to a no-peppers person in our house, I had to adjust the recipe from the start. We did carrots and cabbage. The results were OK, but we found the brine too strong (note her recipe calls for KOSHER salt – which I don’t have on hand usually) and which is less-salty than sea salt. In conclusion, I am now using this adjusted brine recipe instead:
    1 cup distilled white vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoon Kosher salt
    1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
    1 cup cold water
    Very good with onion, cabbage, carrots, pre-steamed caulitflower/broccoli.
    Look out for the red cabbage and red onion! Everything in the brine will be purple! But green cabbage and regular onions are just as tasty.
    Also, waiting 24 hours gives a better-merged-flavor result. But the one-hour pickles are really good. Even raw onion.
    Overall, I’d say – this recipe is fun and quite inspiring!

  10. I was a pretty hardcore believer in the vinegar aspect but all of the Kosher deli pickle recipes I’ve come across call for just brine, pickling spices, and dill. I tried Dave Liebovitz’s version last week and my brine was too salty but the pickles were crisp and otherwise had the flavor I wanted. And no, no sugar in the dills. I am trying for a good spicy bread and butter variation as well though.

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