When I think pickles, my mind automatically wanders to tart, dilly cucumbers. I’ve never been a sweet pickle person, and cucumbers were the only pickled food I ever really ate growing up.
So when I learned about the versatility of lacto-fermentation, I was instantly intrigued. You can really just combine any vegetables, herbs, and seasonings to create an uncanned pickle, so long as you stick to a few environmental conditions it requires?
And that, my friends, is a gardeners dream. Whatever it is that you harvest, can go into the pickle jar. And if you have any sort of summer squash plants, then you probably are looking for ways to use them all up. Here’s one of my favorite ways.
Lacto-Fermented Summer Squash Pickles with Flowering Cilantro
You could use any herb or spice you prefer, I just always happen to have cilantro going to seed as the squash ripen. These flowers lend a flavor somewhere between cilantro – the leaf of the plant – and coriander – the seed.
- 1 to 2 medium-size summer squash, cut into 1/2inch chunks (just enough to fit in a quart jar)
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- a few sprigs of flowering cilantro
- a couple of grape, oak, or mesquite leaves (to keep them crunchy)
- 1 quart of filtered water
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- Combine water and sea salt, stir well, and set aside.
- Add the crushed garlic and one sprig of flowering cilantro to the bottom of a quart jar. Fill jar halfway up with chunks of summer squash. Add a bit more garlic and cilantro and fill the jar with squash chunks up to 2 inches below the rim.
- Pour salt water brine over the squash. At this point you want to weigh the squash down in order for it to remain below the level of the brine and ferment evenly. You could use a cabbage leaf or a cleaned rock, or a plastic bag filled with water.
- Cover tightly with a canning lid and ring. Allow to sit out at somewhere near room temperature, ideally 60° to 80°F. Check your jars and burp them every 12 hours or so by loosening the lid and allowing some gas to escape.
- Let ferment 5 to 10 days, depending on temperature, then transfer to cold storage (refrigerator, root cellar, etc.).