In this post I run down different ways to store pickles mold-free while they ferment. Storage is a crucial aspect of making pickles and there’s more than one way to do it. Every technique achieves the same essential goal, though: keeping the pickles from being exposed to the air for too long. Otherwise, mold may gain a foothold and begin to grow. In most cases this means you want to keep the pickling food submerged in brine, away from the air.
On the other hand, it’s important to keep the surface of that brine open to the air. If you seal the pickle tightly with a lid, carbon dioxide—a natural byproduct of fermentation—will build up and create pressure that could cause leaks or even spray pickle juice everywhere when you open the lid. Salt-brine pickles ferment at room temperature, not in the fridge, and it’s best to leave them in a dark place like a cabinet. Because the jars stand open to the air, it’s a good idea to cover them with a towel to keep out dust and random flies. It is also wise to put your jar on top of a kitchen towel or in an open tupperware that will catch any drips.
Pickling can take as little as a week and as long as a month (or even longer) depending on the size and density of the food you’re pickling. The bigger and harder it is, the slower it pickles. The temperature of your storage space influences the timing too. The hotter it is, the faster the microorganisms will do their work. The good news is that it’s hard to over-pickle something. If you’re not sure your pickle is ready, give it a taste. When it tastes the way you like, remove your seal, put a lid on the pickle, and put it in the fridge. This will stop the fermentation, although the flavors of your spices will continue to soak into the pickle.
So, here are some techniques for keeping your food mold-free while it ferments: Read the rest of this entry »