If you're a fan of deli-style pickles, then you're a fan of salt-brine fermented pickles. I am too, I am too! In fact, I'll never forget the first time I had fat slices of salty fermented pickles at Upstairs Downstairs Deli in Madison, Wisconsin - bright green and uber-garlicky, I couldn't stop eating them. (What are these? Why are they different? Why are they so addictive? I pretty much drove my college roommates nuts with my constant food chatter and questions.) As much as I love the bite of a vinegar pickle, the milder sourness of fermented pickles does make them go down like buttah.
Bonus: They're incredibly easy to make! Fermented pickles require no vinegar - the tanginess is a by-product of fermentation, which happens with very little effort, right on your counter. Feel free to add any combination of your favorite pickling spices - coriander seeds, mustard seeds, chile flakes, cardamom pods, black peppercorns, allspice, fresh chiles, cloves - or keep them really simple with just dill and garlic. Some recipes suggest adding a few grape leaves, as their tannins help keep pickles crisp. I like the idea if you get around to sealing the jars for later eating, but honestly we devour them so quickly, it's never an issue.
I pretty much smell like a pickle lately, cranking out vinegary & fermented batches of pickled corn, beets, green beans, peaches, watermelon rind, radishes, cauliflower, and peppers, with my Kitchen in the Market Provisions class partner chef Scott Pampuch. In fact we're teaching a Pickling the Market class in just a couple of weeks, on Saturday, August 11. Join us for cocktails and brunch as we wander through the market grabbing what looks good and fresh and then...pickling it! You will leave stuffed with treats both sweet and savory, as well as with more than enough tips to get pickling at home. I hope to see you!
Until then, definitely set a batch of CSA or farmers' market pickles to fermenting...go!