I’m standing at the kitchen counter of the cabin my husband built for us when we moved off-grid. It’s over 90 degrees, it’s approaching the lunch hour, and my three children, aged 1 – 6, are getting hungry.
A set of red headed pigtails is at my side while I chop the mid-summer vegetables that need preserving – summer squash, cucumber, and a few green tomatoes that came off the vines too early. They’re all going into a gallon jar of pickles that will contain no vinegar, will never be heated or boiled, and will not see a lick of refrigeration.
You are watching: How To Make Salt Brine Pickles
These are old-fashioned brined lacto-fermented pickles. It’s a mouthful, in more ways than one, but these are the pickles our great grandmothers made. They keep for months, if prepared properly, I really appreciate the health benefits we enjoy from them, and though I’ve made them for years, I appreciate them even more now that we’re taking a crack at this sustainable off-grid homesteading life.
Oh and they are dead easy to make.
The process of lactic acid fermentation is part art and part science. You’re probably familiar with sauerkraut and kimchi. By the same biological process we can make brine-pickled vegetables from literally whatever is in the garden.
The same beneficial organisms we find in good soil are on the surface of the vegetables we pick. Those beneficial organisms feast on the carbohydrates in the vegetables and produce organic acids as well as enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
It is the acids produced – part lactic and part acetic – that form the brine that preserves the vegetables from spoilage.
This process must happen anaerobically, outside of the presence of oxygen, which is why the vegetables are covered in a salt brine. This is the most critical aspect of the fermentation process: you must keep your vegetables covered in brine.
Beyond that, the process is unbelievably easy.
Looking at that list of 10 to-dos can be intimidating, but I promise you that once you do this a few times and understand the process, it is the easiest way of making pickles with whatever produce you have and in whatever size batches you need.
If you’re interested in more specific recipes to get started with, here are a few of my favorites:
- Lacto-Fermented Kosher Dill Pickles
- Lacto-Fermented Summer Squash
- Lacto-Fermented Southwestern Carrot Sticks
Have you tried making pickles without turning on the canner?