Vinegar-Free Pesach Pickles
By Chanie Nayman
Since I was a little girl, I have always been in love with anything pickled. I ate pickled cauliflower, celery, and olives before my peer group even heard of the stuff. When I found this vinegar-free (aka fermented) pickle recipe, I couldn’t resist. Last year, it was a few-months-long production, till we perfected it around Purim time so that we could actually make it seriously for Pesach. We tried all the options I listed below, and loved each one more than the next. Every meal of Pesach started with pickles. It was so nice to add a new flavor profile into our short list of allowed ingredients!
Yields 4 jars of pickled vegetables (or more, or less, depending on how many veggies you want to pickle)
- approximately ½ cup pickling salt (other salts contain an anti-caking agent, which can affect the fermenting process)
- 1 gallon (3¾ liters) filtered water (unfiltered water contains some minerals that can affect the pickling process)
- 3 pounds (1½ kg) pickling cucumbers, 4–6 inches long
- fresh cauliflower
- turnips, peeled and cut up
- celery sticks
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns,
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or a sliced jalapeño pepper,
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large bunch dill per jar (optional)
Dissolve the salt in water for about 15 minutes. Then fill four glass jars with the vegetable of your choice. Cover the vegetables with the salty water and other flavorings of your choice. Fill a Ziploc bag with water and place it on top of the vegetables. (The idea is to make sure there is no part of any vegetable that’s not submerged in the water.)
Place your jars in a cool environment. It doesn’t have to be cold, but it shouldn’t be in the warmest part of your kitchen. I kept them next to a window that doesn't get sun, so they stayed cool from the weather outdoors. Don’t bother them for 7 days. After 7 days, start checking every day for any foam that develops on the bag. If there is foam, wipe it off with a paper towel. The pickles are ready when they lose that opaque fresh-vegetable look. Depending on the vegetable, they may be ready after 10 days. The cucumbers take the longest. Store in the fridge when they’re ready.
NOTE: Mini snacking cucumbers have a thin skin, making them great for salads and snacking. Kirbies have a very thick skin, resulting in a crunchier pickle.