Unless you’re new to this site, you may know I have a thing for Montreal Steak Seasoning. In fact, I love it for so much more than just steak that it’s a regular in my ferments. Unlike the store versions which can have some anti-caking agents or other ingredients bad for fermentation, my own simple recipe can be applied to any ferment.
It was killer in sauerkraut (one of my workshop attendees said it was her favorite out of five krauts I served) and so I’ve moved on to fermented pickles. Unsurprisingly, these rock too.
To get started, first you’re going to want to whip together a batch of my Montreal Steak Seasoning. I can’t really recommend any store brand because almost certainly the salt used in it is iodized or has anti-caking agents, which are no good for a ferment. Those products also tend to have other ferment-unfriendly ingredients like solidified oils or artificial preservatives.
(I will say, for a vinegar pickle version, none of those ingredients poses a problem, and is probably worth doing for quick pickles. Bear in mind you won’t get that unique fermented flavor, effervescence, or probiotic bacteria.)
So let’s get started, shall we?
This is for a quart jar of pickles. If making a half gallon, just double the quantity of everything.
You will need:
- Quart mason jar
- Knife & cutting board
- Medium saucepan & wooden spoon
- Fermentation lid and weight (otherwise burp the jar each day)
- Canning funnel (suggested)
- 4-5 whole pickling cucumbers, or enough sufficient to pack the jar
- 2 cups filtered or distilled water
- 1/2 TBSP additive-free salt
- 2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning (for a stronger and saltier flavor, use 1 TBSP of MSS)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, quartered
- Optional: additional cayenne powder, hot pepper slices, and/or a few dill sprigs
1.) In saucepan, combine the water, salt, and Montreal Steak Seasoning. Heat on high and stir until all the salt has dissolved. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer a couple minutes. Allow to come to room temperature (this is important).
2.) Gently rinse the cucumbers and place them, along with the garlic, in the jar. Try to place them such that they are packed in tightly and won’t rise (a ferment weight will generally prevent this).
3.) If you are using a canning funnel, place it on top of the jar. Then slowly pour the brine into the jar. Fill to about 1/2″ below the shoulder of the jar and then add the ferment weight. This should bring the brine to just slightly above the shoulder. (If you can’t fit a ferment weight, the Pickle Pusher is a superior product which takes up less room.)
As fermentation continues, the brine level will continue to rise. You may place the jar in a bowl to catch overflow as a precaution, if desired.
4.) When you’re ready to start eating the pickles, replace the airlock lid with a regular lid and keep refrigerated.
It is normal for the brine of fermenting pickles to become cloudy and for sediment to fall to the bottom of the jar (or to appear on the surface of the cucumbers).
Half sour pickles are ready in 3-4 days. Full sours can be made in 6-7 days. Note these times can vary somewhat on the ambient temperature. Note that hot temperatures or wildly varying temperatures can produce soft or hollow pickles. If such a case, it may be better to transfer to the refrigerator after several days, and allow fermentation to continue in the fridge for another week or two.