Last summer I fermented a bunch of dill pickles. I normally use grape leaves to keep them crisp, but I was worried I might wear out my welcome with my grape leaf supplier. I'd read that oak leaves are a good substitute, so I made a few jars using green leaves from water oaks. They didn't work. The pickles made with oak leaves are soft sacks of snotty cucumber residue. I'll probably just plant my own grapes for this in the future, but I'm curious about whether there's any truth to oak being useful in this regard. It's pretty clear that my neighborhood water oaks are no good. But maybe other species of oak are good. Anyone have specific alternatives to grape leaves that will keep my pickles crunchy?
Thanks everyone for the tips. Yes, the jars I use are well sealed. Simultaneous preparation of batches with grape leaves and oak leaves gave me two very different outcomes. But since some of you use oak successfully, maybe water oaks just lack the tannins of other oaks. I'll try a batch with live oak next summer.
I don't think I've ever seen a cherry tree in the area, so that would be difficult.
Jeff, I'll have to try some horseradish leaves too.
Megan, could you tell me more about your brine? Specifically salt concentration and time? I'd like to try this too.