Garden Updates & Lacto-Fermented Garlicy Dill Pickles Recipe

It’s harvest season!

We worked hard through January to March to hand dig and clear a spot for the greenhouse, build the greenhouse, clear the space for the garden, get it fenced in, build the beds, hand shovel 5 yards of soil into all the beds, and plant all the vegetables from seeds (scroll through the pics below to see how tall they grew!).

We did it all by hand. We lifted all 6 of the 2 x 12 ft fir rafters up into place, got up on the scaffolding and build the roof, carried glass up the scaffolding to install it on the roof, nailed every nail in the floor system. When I say we did it all by hand, I mean ALL of it.

No wonder I got in such good shape.

I look at photos of what the space looked like last year compared to this year, and I can see the progress we’ve made, and it feels so good.

And, the best part of it, is now I’m enjoying all the fruits (and veg) of our labour.

I’m absolutely loving all the goodies that are coming from my garden, and it’s been slightly overwhelming with just how much food it’s producing versus how much we can eat, and how much time I have to preserve.

I have a food philosophy of not wasting any food.

It adds a lot of pressure when the garden is overflowing, then I go pick a large basket of local apples, pick a huge bag of local plums, plus still have a box of peaches and nectarines in the fridge from a run to the Okanagan, and have never really used the canner before.

My other food philosophy is to have as much locally grown or foraged foods as possible

I want to have some level of self sufficiency from the commercial food system and to have foods that are fresh and nutritious and I know how they were grown.

So I found myself in a situation where my kitchen was overflowing. A good problem to have, and I had to figure out pretty quickly what my preservation techniques were going to be.

Food Preservation

I can’t talk about gardening without quickly mentioning the options for what to do with it. My food preservation options are:

  1. Freezing

  2. Canning

  3. Fermenting

Freezing is great for some things - berries freeze really well, for example. But it’s limited when it comes to other stone fruits and some vegetables (like cucumbers). It also requires a lot of freezer space, which is at a premium these days.

Canning works well, and I love that it means I can store food in the cupboards rather than take up freezer space, but it can also be tricky making sure that the acidity levels are right so it doesn’t go bad. It also takes time: you generally have to cook what you’re putting in there, then can it in the canner anywhere from 10-45min.

Fermentation, on the other hand, is one of the oldest preserving techniques and it’s quick: make your salt brine, toss in the spices, add the vegetables and leave it be to ferment. In addition, it’s one of the healthiest ways to store food because it’s produces gut-friendly bacteria and enhances the bio-availability of nutrients in the food.

Garlicy-Dill Lacto-Fermented Pickles

One of the things I both fermented and pickled this year were cucumbers. I prefer to lacto-ferment because of the nutritional benefits, and because I was picking them from my garden and I could process them right away (… mostly), they remained crunchy and turned out well!

Here’s the recipe that I referenced from Make Sauerkraut in making the lacto-fermented pickles.

It’s key to have the right salt to water balance to make sure that the fermentation begins; too little salt and it won’t work, but too much salt and you won’t want to eat them.

I made a simpler version of the pickling spice that I found worked really well and produced a great flavour. For a 500ml jar, I added:

  • 1 tsp dill seeds (or a dill seed pod, if I had it)

  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed

  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional for a bit of kick! You can add more to make it more spicy)

  • 4-5 black peppercorns

From three pickling cucumber plants, I was able to make 9 x 500ml jars of pickles, both fermented and vinegar pickled.

Have you fermented cucumbers before? What do you think about trying it out? Comment below.