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Milksinchapter11),alive-cultureacidifierforsoakinggrainsandlegumes (seeSoaking Grainsinchapter8),aflavoringinsaladdressingsormarinades, orabaseforsoups.Brineisaprecious,tasty,andnutritiousresource.

sour Pickles
Itisbrinedsourcucumberpicklesthatgotmeinterestedinfermentation inthefirstplace.AsakidinNewYorkCityIdfrequentlyenjoyapickleasa satisfying(andcheap)after-schoolsnack.Thegarlic-dill-lactic-acidflavorof picklesissomethingIhavealwayslovedandcraved.AssoonasIstartedmakingsauerkrautandthinkingaboutfermentation,itwasonlynaturalthatItry fermentingcucumbersintosourpickles. ThesourpicklesIgrewupwithinNewYork,knowninmanyplacesas kosherdills,areiconicsymbolsofEasternEuropeanJewishcuisine.Infact, theyandallthingspickledareprominentincuisinesacrossEasternEurope. PolishethnographerAnnaKowalska-Lewickaexplainsthatthepeasantdiet containedonlyminimalquantitiesofmeatandconsistedalmostexclusively ofvegetables,flour,andbuckwheatallwithablandtaste.Inheranalysis,by addingadifferentflavorandgreatlybroadeningthepalate,thesourflavorsof fermentationdidmorethansimplypreservefood.33 IlearnedfromJaneZiegelmansbook97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenementthatthetasteforpickles amongJewishimmigrantswascauseforalarmandmoraljudgment.The excessiveuseofpickledfoodsdestroysthetasteformilderflavors,causesirritation,andrendersassimilationmoredifficult,writesBostondietitianBertha M.Woodinher1922bookFoods of the Foreign-Born in Relation to Health.34 JohnSpargo,authorofThe Bitter Cry of the Children,soughttounderstand whyJewishchildrensofrequentlyspenttheirlunchpenniesonpickles.It wouldseemthatthechronicunderfeedingcreatesanervouscravingforsome kindofstimulantwhichthechildfindsinpickles.Theadultresortstowhiskey veryoftenformuchthesamereason.35 Inourtime,picklesaremorefrequentlycelebratedthancondemned.I haveattendedmanypicklefestivals,atwhichAmericansofvariedethnicities celebratedthepicklingtraditionsoftheirpeople.Sourpicklesaremoreappropriatelyviewedashealthy,live-culturedigestivestimulantsthanasdangerous moralhazards. Fermentingcucumbersismorechallengingthanmostothervegetableferments.Cucumbersareextremelywatery,andsubjecttofastdecompositionby pectin-digestingenzymes.Andwhilecabbagesandradishestypicallymature incoolweather,cucumbersgrowinheat,whichspeedsbothfermentation andenzymaticdigestion.Becauseofthesefactors,itiseasytohavefermented cucumbersgetmushy,whichisnotapleasingtextureformostpeople. Tokeepcucumberscrunchy,Isuggestaddinggrapeleaves,oakleaves, cherryleaves,horseradishleaves,orothertannin-richplantmaterials(even ateabagorgreenbananapeel).HaroldMcGeewritesthatusingunrefined

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seasaltimprovescrispnessthankstoitscalciumandmagnesiumimpurities, whichhelpcross-linkandreinforcecell-wallpectins,whichhepointsoutis alsohowpicklingadditivessuchasalumorcalciumhydroxidework.36There aremanyotherideasonhowtokeepcucumberpicklescrispy;forinstance, fermentationenthusiastShivaniArjunawrites:Addingsomeslicesofcarrot alongwithcucumberwillkeepthecucumbercrisper.ARussianwomanin oneofmyclassesrecalledseeingcucumbersblanchedbrieflyinboilingwater priortobriningtomaintaincrispiness.FredBreidtetal.reportthatincommercialproduction,calciumchlorideisaddedtobrine(0.1to0.4percent)to maintaincrispnessduringstorage.37Peoplehaveusedmanyvariedstrategies toaccomplishthissometimeselusivegoal. Addlotsofgarlicanddill.Theresnoneedtoevenpeelthegarlic;Ijust addwholeheadscutinhalfcross-sectionally,andthegarlicinfusesintothe brine.Fordill,flowersorseedheadsareideal,butseedsand/orgreensare fine.Horseradish(rootsand/orleaves)andhotpeppersaregreat,also.For bestresults,fermentsmallpicklingcucumbersoffairlyuniformsize.Preparecucumbersjustbeforebriningbysoakingincoldwater(evenicewater), scrapingawayanyresidueoftheflowerblossomsontheendsofthecucumbers,andgentlyrubbingoffthespines.Forsourpickles,mix5percentbrine, roughly3tablespoonsofsaltperquart/literofwater,asdescribedpreviously. Forshorter-fermentinghalf-soursormalossol(littlesaltinRussian),use weakerbrine,around3.5percent,or2tablespoonsofsaltperquart/liter ofwater.ForFrench-stylecornichons,usetinycucumbersofthecornichon variety,andspice5percentbrinewithtarragon,garlic,andpeppercorns. Submergecucumbersandotheringredientsunderbrine.Useaplateorother modestweighttokeepvegetablessubmerged,astheywilltendtofloat. ManyEasternEuropeanpicklerecipescallforfloatingasliceofryebread inthebrine.FellowpickleloverIraWeiss,whogrewupontheLowerEastSide ofManhattaninthe1950swhentherewasapicklestandoneverythirdcornerreportsthathisHungarian-Romanian-bornmothermadeherpickles withasliceofryebreadontopofthebrine.Butaftermuchexperimentation, Iraconcludedthattheryebreadmadenodifferenceanddiscontinuedthe tradition. Iradoesrecommendanotherpracticehelearnedfromhismother:fermentingcucumbersinaglassjarnearawindow,soitgetssome directsunlight,whichhereportshelpseliminatetheformationofscum(mold),becauseultravioletlightisagood disinfectant.Irasmothersadviceisechoedinatextbookaccountofcommercialcucumberfermentation, commonlydonein8,000-to10,000-gallon,open-top, plasticorfiberglasstanksthatarelocatedout-of-doorsso thebrinesurfaceisexposedtosunlight.TheUVradiation insunlightisreliedupontokillaerobicsurfaceyeasts.38 Manyfermentationtraditionsinsistonfermentinginthedark,butit canworkwellbothways.

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Ifyouarefermentingcucumberswhentemperaturesarehot,averaging aboveroughly77F/25C,fermentjustafewdaysbeforeeatingormovingto refrigeration.Incoolertemperatures,youcanfermentcucumberslonger,but tastefrequentlyandrefrigerateatthefirstsignofsoftening.Ascucumbers ferment,theirskincolorchangesfrombrightgreentoadarkerolivegreen andtheirinteriorschangefromwhitetotranslucent.Half-soursareeatenstill somewhatbright,intransition.Asthepicklesabsorbsaltfromthebrine,the cucumbersspecificgravityincreaseswhilethebrinesdecreases,resultingin thepicklessinkingratherthanfloating.Storelivefermentedcucumberpickles intherefrigeratorunlessyouhavearootcellarorotherspotthatstaysbelow 60F/16C.

Brining mushrooms
Frequentlypeoplehaveaskedmewhethermushroomscanbefermented.I haveoccasionallyfermentedmushrooms,especiallyshiitakes,mixedwith othervegetables.FermentationexperimentalistMollyAgy-JoyceofRiver Falls,Minnesota,wrotetotellmeaboutherkimchiwithcriminimushrooms: Thegingerandhotpepperflavorsmingledreallywellwiththemushrooms. ButIhaveneverfermentedmushroomsasaprimaryingredient. PolishethnographerAnnaKowalska-LewickawritesthatinPoland, historically:Almostallvarietiesofediblemushroomswerepickledin thevillages,Lactariusdeliciosus[saffronmilkcap]beingconsideredthe best....Mushroomswerepickledsimilarlytocabbage,andwerehighly regardedasanadditiontowarmdishesorbread.39AnneVolokhhasan extremelysimplerecipeforbrinedmushroomsinThe Art of Russian Cuisine(1983).Shecallsfor1pound/500gofmushrooms,2tablespoonsof non-iodizedsalt,peppercorns,carawayseeds,garlic,dill,andoptionalhorseradish,blackcurrant,orsourcherryleaves.Mushroomstemsaretrimmedto inch/1cm,andspices(exceptsalt)aremixedtogether.Thenmushroomsare packedintothefermentationvessel,capsdown.Sprinkleeachlayerwithsalt andeveryotherlayerwiththespiceandherbmixture.Leavewithaweight

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