The season’s first appearance of small pickling cucumbers at our local farmer’s market is a red-letter day in my fermentation world for I know I will soon be enjoying crunchy pickle spears and Pickle Relish Kimchi.
Learning to preserve produce by fermenting seasonally allows you to:
- Capture vegetables at their peak of freshness. Cucumbers that were picked within a few days of when you prepare them for fermentation are teeming with the bacteria responsible for successful fermentation. These bacteria not only ensure success, but impart better flavors and reduce the chance of mold growing.
- Save money. Fresh-picked produce grown locally, or harvested from your garden, can be preserved for far less money than buying that same produce, shipped from across the globe, in the middle of winter.
- Meet and support your local farmers. If you are not harvesting produce from your own garden, the next best place to get fresh produce is at your local farmer’s market. Here, you can have a conversation with the families that grow your food, learn how it is grown, and connect a face to where you spend food dollars.
Makes 1 quart (liter)
- 1-1/2 pounds (680 grams) pickling cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch (cm)-sized cubes
- 6-8 green onions, crosscut into 1/4-inch (1 cm) pieces
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml)sugar
- 3 teaspoons (15 ml) iodine-free salt
1. Prepare the cucumbers, carrots, green onions, garlic, and ginger and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru), fish sauce, sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the salt and mix well.
2. Taste. If the relish mixture taste like a salty potato chip, you have the right amount of salt. If it tastes overly salty—like that gulp of sea water you accidentally swallowed—toss in a few more cubed cucumbers. If there is just a hint of salt, add the last teaspoon of salt.
3. Pack into a 1-quart (liter) jar. Clean up any loose bits from around the rim and press the mixture down into your jar to remove any air pockets.
4. Seal the jar using a fermentation weight and airlock lid of your choosing. If you don’t have a specialty weight, find a slightly smaller jar that will fit inside the neck of the jar you packed your relish into. Fill it with water, cap it, and place it inside the jar. It will keep your relish below the brine and safe from airborne molds and yeasts.
5. Label your jar with the recipe name and the day you started fermenting. Place your jar in a small bowl to catch any brine that may overflow. Ferment away from direct sunlight for 4-7 days.
6. Monitor daily, pressing down any bits that rise to the surface. Start tasting on day 4, looking for flavor-infused cucumber cubes with a bit of crunch.
7. When fermented to your liking, clean up the jar, removing the fermentation weight and airlock lid. Add how long you fermented your Pickle Relish Kimchi to your label. Seal your jar with a regular lid and transfer to the fridge where your relish will keep for 6-12 months.
- Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) can be found online or in Asian markets. The package label should list just red pepper powder, with sun-dried red pepper powder being the highest quality. You can substitute red pepper flakes, but they are much hotter. Use just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.
- Red Boat is my preferred brand of fish sauce. When shopping for fish sauce, carefully read the label. The best quality of fish sauce will be made with just anchovies and salt.
- Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt© are my favorite salts to use for fermentation.
- If you are comfortable with weighing your ingredients and calculating salt by weight, this recipe uses 2% salt. To determine how many grams of salt to add, the weight of your ingredients would multiplied by 0.02. For example, an 800 gram batch of relish ingredients would call for 16 grams of salt.