Sunday, 26 May 2013

Fermented Hot Honey Dills

I know, I know--crazy, right?  Hot and sweet.  In this case--hot peppers and honey.  Yes, they ARE fabulous together.  Especially with dill.  If you don't believe me, try it yourself.

My son keeps eating my pickles.  He doesn't know what I mean when I say "fermented".  All he knows is that they're home made, and more than a little bit spicy.  Which is good enough for me--as soon as I start to talk to my teens about beneficial bacteria and healthy gut flora, they get all grossed-out and think I've finally gone off the deep end into crazy-town.  So we'll keep that little secret to ourselves, ok?

Now, these pickles started out only a little bit spicy.  The taste is a little kick of heat at the tail end.  You could double the hot peppers in this--but be careful--the fermenting really brings out the heat in peppers, and the longer they sit in the  fridge after the initial fermentation  the hotter they become.  You might want to also increase the honey, to keep the flavour balanced.  Or not.  Up to you.

Making fermented pickles is one of the easiest things you can try to ferment.  An old pickle jar, some sea salt, a handful of spices and some cucumbers, and you're good-to-go.  It really is that easy.  I find that kosher pickles and these kinds of fermented pickles are never even close to as crunchy as, say, Bicks Pickles--you can  get SOME crunch in these pickles, but to get that store-bought pickle crunch, you'd need to add a chemical storm of ingredients, so this is the trade-off.  To get the fermented pickles as crunchy as possible, use the freshest cucumbers that you can find, slice off the blossom end of the pickle, soak in ice-water, and pickle them whole.  I don't mind my pickles just a tiny bit soft, so I sliced mine lengthwise before fermenting them.

So, for this recipe I used hot peppers that I'd already fermented several months ago.  I fermented them and then didn't have a clue what to do with them.  I meant to make sriracha sauce with them, eventually, but I didn't.  You don't have to use fermented peppers--any hot peppers  will do.  Using foods like the raw honey and fermented peppers in your pickle ferment will help act as a "starter", getting your pickles going faster, but even if you use regular peppers and regular honey, fermentation will still happen, so don't sweat it.  Pickles are pretty simple that way.  Just be patient and don't forget to taste them along the way.


(for a 2L jar)

2 pkg pickling cucumbers
4 cups (1L) filtered water
3 Tbs fine sea salt
2 Tbs raw, unpasteurized honey
1 Tbs pickling spice
1/2 Tbs dried dill
3 hot peppers (I used fermented ones, but that's optional)
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar + extra for after fermentation (optional)
cabbage leaf or weight to hold down


Soak cucumbers in ice water for at least an hour.  This helps keep them crunchy after pickling.

Dissolve salt in filtered water.  Cut off both ends of cucumbers.  Slice lengthwise (or leave whole--up to you).  Add spices, hot peppers, honey, and vinegar to jar.  Arrange cucumbers in jar, packing tightly.  Pour water solution over top, making sure it covers everything.  Use cabbage leaf (or weight) to pin everything down under the saltwater solution.

Let sit on counter for 1 - 4 weeks to allow to ferment, tasting after about 5 days, until it reaches desired level of sour for your tastes.  Keep an eye out for mould.   If you are using fermented peppers, and raw honey, fermenting may go faster.  Mine only needed 6 days to reach the desired level of hot and sour that I like.

The longer they sit, the cloudier the water will turn.  They will become more sour, and more soft, the longer you let them sit.  I personally add a bit more vinegar--maybe 2 Tbs, after they're done fermenting and leave them in the fridge for 24 hours before eating.  It just adds a touch of that vinegary taste that I'm accustomed to with pickles.  They will still continue to develop flavour (spiciness and sourness) even after being moved into the fridge.

Refrigerate when done.  They should last 6 months to a year once they're in the fridge.

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