I have this childhood memory — shared to my knowledge with at least one of my cousins — of going to see my Nana and Poppa (i.e., my maternal grandparents) on weekends and invariably seeing several quart jars of dill pickles soaking on their front porch. And that meant one thing: We’d drive home with these oh so sour, garlicky pickles, with instructions to shake the jars periodically and let them sit for several more days before opening.
I don’t think my Nana realized that what she was doing was fermenting vegetables. Pickles were pickles. But, while all fermented vegetables are “pickles,” not all pickles are fermented. In my latest story for the San Diego Union-Tribune's food section I describe the difference and my friend Curt Wittenberg, a true fermentation geek, walks us through the process of making both sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. I've already make two batches of vegetables and love this approach. Sauerkraut is next. It's easy and if you love pickles you'll want to try your hand at making your own.