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Problems with cucumber fermentation

 
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I've been making cucumber pickles for about a year and the results are poor. I'd like the forum to troubleshoot. If I make 30 pickles maybe 6 will be passable. Most will be squishy and the tops are often moldy. I use pickling cucumbers sold at local grocery stores. As far as I can see they are unwaxed. I have experimented with sea salt, Himalayan salt, and Kosher salt in varying amounts. Kosher salt works better but not great. I don't add any other seasonings. I always use distilled water. I use organic dried Turkish bay leaves by the handful to encourage crunchiness. I use quart mason jars and put glass weights at the tops of the jars to keep the pickles submerged. However, sometimes the pickles are too large for the jars and push above the waterline. Or, over the period of a few weeks, the pickles rearrange themselves in the jar and end up above the waterline and the glass weights sink to the bottom of the jar. Recommendations?
 
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I'm not sure of the answer to why this is happening, but when I do fermentation I use a plastic bag full of water rather than a glass weight. It fits down perfectly, shapes itself to the jar, and conforms to the shape of whatever is under it.
 
N Thomas
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Lauren Ritz wrote:I'm not sure of the answer to why this is happening, but when I do fermentation I use a plastic bag full of water rather than a glass weight. It fits down perfectly, shapes itself to the jar, and conforms to the shape of whatever is under it.


That's ingenious! I'll try it.
 
pollinator
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Fermentation requires microbes. If your native/wild microbes aren't giving you the results that you like. I would try some water kefir microbe starter or some of the liquid from a "good jar of pickles" or from an "expert/elder" near you. Milk kefir/yogurt whey or any other suck starter might work for you. I would also experiment with different types of water, e.g. spring water, plain tap water, filteres/RO water. With the current 80% failure rate, I think even tap water is okay
 
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I've had good luck soaking the cucumbers in ice water for several hours prior to pickling. For some reason they seem to absorb the water and firm up. Also make sure to cut a sliver off the blossom end so that it has no remnants of the blossom, which has enzymes that make pickles soft.
 
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keep trying! i remember my first tries making cucumber pickles, it was like you said, just slimy mess. I don`t know what i'm doing differently now, but the results are better. The water-bag weight is a good solution, and you can always start keeping your eyes out for objects- ceramic things, rocks, etc well cleaned on top of a folded cabbage leaf works too (but frankly not as good as the bag!!)
 
N Thomas
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Thanks everyone!
 
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I have had mixed results with fermented cucumbers, sometimes they are super and sometimes a batch just goes wrong.

One thing I have noticed is that truly fresh cucumbers make much better pickles.  When using my own backyard cukes, if I let them sit in the fridge--even in cold water--for a few days the results are not nearly as good as if they go into the brine same day.  So the problem might be that supermarket cucumbers were at least several days away from the farm.
 
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