Fermented Spicy Garlic Pickle Spirals

by Kaitlynn Fenley

This delicious pickle recipe is inspired by the spicy, umami flavors of kimchi! These pickles only take a few minutes to prepare and 14 days of fermentation time. Put these spiral-cut pickles on any sandwich or burger this summer and enjoy the salty, sour flavors of wild fermented spicy garlic pickle spirals.

The Best Thing About Fermented Foods:

You get the same preservation benefits as pickling, but a more smooth flavor with way more health benefits!

I never truly enjoyed preserved vegetables until I started making fermented foods at home. I’m one of the few lucky people whose only ever eaten real, properly fermented sauerkraut. I meet people all the time who “hate” pickles (myself included), then try wild fermented pickles and fall in love. Welcome to pickle heaven.

Fermented Spicy Garlic Pickle Spirals

We get caught up in fermenting our products in huge barrels (which I absolutely love to do), and sometimes I forget how much I love to dabble with flavors and fermenting in my home kitchen. This is our most recent fermentation creation and the flavors came out beautiful. When we decided to use our spiralizer to cut the cucumbers, I was a little worried about how the texture would come out… but these turned out wonderfully crunchy, and perfect for sandwiches.

How to Choose a Good Cucumber

There are two types of cucumbers I suggest using to ferment your own pickles. The first is English cucumbers, the long cucumbers normally sold tightly wrapped in plastic. The second is pickling cucumbers, the shorter, bumpy, lighter green cucumbers. 

Do not use slicing cucumbers for fermentation. These are the very smooth, dark green cucumbers. They’re usually fat and long. Most slicing cucumbers will turn into a soggy mess through the fermentation process. Slicing cucumbers are also normally wax-coated, which disrupts the fermentation process. 

Heres my checklist for choosing good cucumbers: 

  1. Density: The cucumber should feel heavy like it is hydrated and has turgor pressure. It should not feel hollow, like yellow squash, if you tap your finger against it. 
  2. Check for surface mold: Look for indentions and soft spots in the cucumbers. You do not want to buy a cucumber that is squishy. Cucumbers that are close to molding will have dark, small, circular indentions or black “pocks” on the surface.
  3. Small is Better: The bigger the diameter of the cucumber, the soggier your pickles will be. If buying English cucumbers, look for one with a smaller diameter. If you are buying pickling cucumbers, go for the smaller dainty cucumbers. 
  4. Color: Pickling cucumbers should be predominately green with streaks of yellowish-green. English cucumbers should be a solid medium green color.

Soggy Pickles?

Cucumbers are subject to sogginess when fermented. Since the inside of a cucumber is mostly water, when cucumbers are fermented, Leuconostoc bacteria in stage two of the fermentation can break down the cucumber structure in excess causing soggy pickles. To help prevent sogginess, start with cold cucumbers. You can also add in bay leaves, sencha green tea leaves, and grape leaves for tannins. You can also try adding calcium chloride salt to pickles, which is very effective at keeping things crunchy. (Some sources of calcium chloride are natural from limestone… and some sources are chemically produced. I suggest doing your own research on this salt and deciding for yourself if you’d like it in your food). The most immediate fix for soggy pickles is to use a 3 to 4% total salt concentration. 

The slicing impacts how the pickles hold up during fermentation too. You should always remove the ends of cucumbers, and do not include the ends in the fermentation. The blossom end of cucumbers contains enzymes that can also soften the cucumbers. You can try a ripple cut using a ripple blade on a mandolin, or try fermenting pickle spears instead of pickle chips.

Mastering Fermented Foods

If you’re going to master fermentation you’ll need to use weight measurements for your fermentation ingredients. That means you need a kitchen scale. In order to select for the best probiotic bacteria (the ones that are actually beneficial) in your ferments, you must weigh salt to create a specific salt concentration. Weighing salt is the only way to create a salt concentration that will select for only probiotic microbes to thrive. You can read more about why you must weigh your salt here.

Supplies You Need to Start Making Fermented Spicy Garlic Pickle Spirals

  • 32-ounce Wide Mouth Mason Jar
  • Fermentation Weight
  • Standard Metal Mason Jar Lid (this can rust in the presence of salt)
  • OR Rust-Free Plastic Lid
  • or you can use a Weck Jar (without the gasket; only use the clips to secure the lid)
  • Sea Salt
  • Scale
  • Mixing Bowl 

Care Guide for Fermented Foods

Pickle Recipe Tips

During the first few days of fermentation: carbon dioxide and bubbles will be produced. Sometimes Jars will become very full with liquid, and this liquid can seep out. 

  • When this happens remove the lid and tamper everything back down using a gloved hand, tamper, or spoon. Make sure everything is still submerged under the fermentation weight, below the brine.

Always Trust your sense of smell: Fermented cucumbers should smell pleasantly sour and more smooth than a vinegar pickle. Never eat anything that smells repulsive. 

Taste test at two weeks: If you prefer the pickles to be more tart and sour, let them ferment for another week. 

What Temperature Should I Keep the Pickles at

Keep your fermenting pickle spirals at a temperature between 70-80 degrees F. Keep out of direct sunlight. When fermentation is complete at two weeks, place in the refrigerator.

How Long Should I Ferment Pickles For?  

After 2-4 weeks, remove the fermentation weight and smell and taste test. Your fermented pickles should smell pleasantly sour. They should taste tart and crisp. 

Do I Need to Refrigerate My Fermented Pickles? 

After fermenting for at least two weeks, place a regular mason jar lid on the jar and refrigerate. Consume within 6 months for full probiotic benefits

Pickle Recipe Fermentation Timeline

We tracked our pickle spirals throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages under the microscope we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline for Wild Fermented Pickle Spirals should approximately match ours! 

24 – 72 hours: All contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria and possible pathogens present. 
  
 72 hours – 7 days: After 72 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. This is the stage in which you will burp the jar. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Gram negative organisms die off. 

7 – 12 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The mixture will become cloudy and start to develop a pleasant sour and garlic smell. Lactobacillus species are most abundant during this time period.

12 – 14 days: Lactobacillus make up majority or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid, and make the ferment smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes preserved. This is when you want to smell and taste test.

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Spicy Garlic Pickle Spirals Recipe

This delicious pickle recipe is inspired by the spicy, umami flavors of kimchi! These pickles only take a few minutes to prepare and 14 days of fermentation time. Put these spiral-cut pickles on any sandwich or burger this summer and enjoy the salty, sour flavors of wild fermented spicy garlic pickle spirals.

  • Author: Kaitlynn
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Fermentation Time: 2 weeks
  • Total Time: 336 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 32 ounces 1x
  • Category: Fermented Foods
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 400 grams pickling cucumbers, washed & spiral cut
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, fresh & sliced
  • 400 grams water
  • 28 grams sea salt

Instructions

  1. Wash all of your fermentation equipment (jar, weight and lid)
  2. Wash your pickling cucumbers in cool water. Using a spiralizer, spiral cut the cucumbers.
  3. Place your kitchen scale on the counter. Turn it on and set it to weigh in grams.
  4. Place a mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and tare/zero the scale. 
  5. Add the spiral cut cucumbers into the bowl on your scale until the scale reads 400 grams.
  6. Remove the bowl from your scale and set aside. Place your empty, clean mason jar on the scale, and tare/zero the scale. Make sure your scale is still set to grams and add 400 grams of filtered water to your mason jar.
  7. Add the cucumbers from your bowl, into the mason jar with water.
  8. Place a small bowl on your scale and tare/zero the scale. Weigh out 28 grams of salt. Then add the salt to the jar of cucumbers and water.
  9. Add all the remaining ingredients.
  10. Place your standard mason jar lid on the jar, and secure. Shake the jar vigorously for 2 minutes.
  11. Remove the mason jar lid. Place your fermentation weight in the jar making sure to submerge the cucumber pieces and weight fully in the liquid.
  12. Secure the mason jar lid and allow to ferment for 2 weeks. (see blog above for care instructions and FAQs. 

Notes

This recipe at 1x works well with a 32-ounce mason jar.

The recipe amounts listed here fill the jar. You may have some spillover when adding a fermentation weight and during the bubbly stage of fermentation. 

Taring/zeroing the scale with a container on it subtracts the weight of the container, allowing you to weigh only what is added to the container. After taring/zeroing the scale, the scale should read 0.0 with the container on it.

 

Keywords: kimchi, pickles, spirals, garlic

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1 comment

Cindy Hansen June 1, 2021 - 11:46 am

I made these using small cucumbers at my local co-op. They weren’t labelled pickling, so don’t know if there’s a difference. Anyway, they were fantastic! I think this is my favorite brine ever. When we finished up the jar, they were gone very quickly I might add, I chopped up some carrots, put them in the jar with the leftover brine, and we ate all the carrots within a couple of days.

What other vegetables do you think I could ferment using this recipe?

Thanks!

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