The post I wrote on lacto-fermented pickles seems to have generated a lot of interest. I've gotten quite a few emails from folks about it. I believe part of the interest is because many people are becoming more aware of the ingredients that are in their food. They no longer wish to consume artificial colors, artificial chemical preservatives and other ingredients that they can't pronounce.
Two interesting remarks came up. I had some people who were a little concerned about the idea of lacto-fermenting without the use of whey. Several people commented that in the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallonshe uses whey. I'm certainly not saying that you shouldn't, that is a very valid way to create a lacto-ferment. What I am saying is that whey is not strictly necessary if the brine is at the right percentage. The brine will protect the food until the natural lacto-fermentation process takes over.
One person told me that living in a hot climate she keeps her air conditioning on and can't get her house warm enough to get good fermentation going. In that case it is definitely a good idea to add whey as the pickles may not make a solid lacto-ferment otherwise. Adding 2 T. of whey should provide a good amount to kick off the ferment.
Another person wrote that her grandmother taught her to put grape leaves in with the cucumber pickles because it helps make them crisp. This sounds like it could be a good idea. Grapes are also known for having a lot of natural bacteria so I'm sure the leaves would help the lacto-fermentation process along.
To make your own whey simply take a 32 ounce container of plain organic yogurt, put it into a lined colander and strain overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning you will have a creamy Greek-style yogurt in the top of the colander and the clear strained whey in the bowl underneath. The whey will keep for a couple of months in the fridge. I use the whey for soaking beans, grains, and lacto-fermented foods.
photo courtesy of Agne27 | Wikimedia Commons