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I have made half-sour pickles successfully with the recipe in the first post of this chow.com thread, although only when the heel of bread is added to promote fermentation.

While I don't always have a heel of stale rye spare to add to the pickling mixture, I often have kimchi in the kitchen. Both kinds of pickles are produced through lactic acid fermentation, so can I use a small amount of kimchi juice -- not enough to flavour the pickling mixture -- to promote the right kind of fermentation, or are the microorganisms responsible for the flavour of each different?

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Update: It works! –  jogloran Oct 30 '12 at 6:03

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Short answer is "yes".

Sour pickles don't get sour because of yeast. Pickles get sour due to lactic acid produced by bacteria, the same way kimchi works. Propably you could even add a bit of real home-made yoghurt to boost the bacteria. The bacteria needed are already present on the cucumbers (even after you wash them, but you shouldn't srcub them too much!), and addition of bread heel, kimchi juice or youghurt will just boost their growth.

As a seasoned Polish sour-pickles maker, I can assure you that you don't need the bread or kimchi juice at all. The pickles will get nicely sour without it, but they will just take a few days more. In summer I prepare sour pickles with the bread, in order to have them ready really fast and always on hand, but for my winter jars I never use the bread. If I put the heel in a jar that's supposed to wait till winter, the cucumbers will overferment, might get soft and generally will be good only for cucumber soup.

My other comments on the receipe: using iodised salt is fine, as long as you don't exceed half of all salt used (the other half must be pickling/kosher salt). It is not just the brine that keeps them from spoiling - it's mostly the lactic acid. The "pickled water" is sour enough to prevent fungi growth, and it is extremely rich in vitamin C and is a great cure for hangover ;)

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You must make strong pickles! I have never had a hangover from over indulging in pickles? What's the problem with iodised salt? –  TFD Sep 17 '12 at 10:32
    
Glad to hear from someone well-versed in pickle theory. About the iodised salt, it will make the pickle mixture cloudy. I'm not sure if it affects the flavour. –  jogloran Sep 17 '12 at 10:58
    
It does, but nothing really bad. My practice says it may interfere with the fermentation, but that happened to me only once. I would say that the quality of the water is more important. One more thing you could try - don't crush the garlic, use whole cloves and then eat them. Soured garlic certainly has an interesting taste. –  jkadlubowska Sep 17 '12 at 14:11
    
TFD - I wrote thet you should drink cucumber water when you have a hangover, not that it gives you one... –  jkadlubowska Sep 17 '12 at 14:17
    
@jkadlubowska Sorry, bad humour on my part! –  TFD Sep 17 '12 at 22:06

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