Brine CuredPickles

When I was a little girl living in way out in the country outside Lawrence, Kansas, I always knew that I could reach into the giant crock jar on our back porch and pull out a big whole pickle at any time.  I do not remember my siblings and I so much as rinsing our hands before reaching in the crock for the pickles.  I don't remember us even thinking we should rinse our hands.  The hardest part of getting a pickle was lifting that heavy crock lid off.

Those were the best pickles I have ever eaten in my whole life to date.  My grandmothers, both of them, had crock pickles also but they kept theirs in their cellars, along with bushels of apples, sacks of potatoes, shelves of canned vegetables and fruits in Mason jars, jams, jellies and sacks of nuts.  I don't remember one time with either grandma when I saw her sitting in her rocker but that she wasn't shelling nuts, crocheting, or doing something productive with her hands.

Brine Pickles
Gently wash cucumbers -- don't bruise them.  Get an estimate on how much the cucumbers weigh. Put the cucumbers in your crock and cover with a 10% brine solution.  The best temperature for brining pickles is in the 80 F degree range. 

Brine Solution: 1 cup salt to 2 quarts water.  
To test if your brine is right put a fresh egg in the solution and if it floats, your brine is at 10%.

Now weight the cucumbers down with a plate or something else that works for you.  That's all you can do now.  The following morning, however, add 1 cup of salt for each 5 pounds of cucumbers.  This is important because it maintains the brine solution at 10%.  Also note that it is best to add that salt on top of the plate weighing down the cucumbers and let it dissolve there; otherwise, it will sink to the bottom of the crock and will form too strong a brine down there.

You'll need to remove the scum when it forms on top of the brine.  This is another important step:  if the brine is not removed it will destroy the acidity of the brine and your pickles will be spoiled.

At the end of a week and for the next 5 weeks, add 1/4 cup salt for each 5 pounds of cucumbers.  Remember, add salt on top of the plate weighing them down so it doesn't sink too fast. Let the fermentation (bubbles forming) continue for about 4 weeks.

If you like real crisp pickles, add some grape leaves or cherry tree leaves.  Some women back then also used alum or lime.  Not any of those are necessary for crisp pickles if you follow the procedure properly.