Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Lessons from my Summer of Pickles July 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 8:32 am
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I’ve always planted a few cucumber seeds, which have always produced a few cucumbers.  The last few years have been quite hot and dry.  This year, I planted a few cucumber seeds, but something was different than previous years.  We’ve had days of epic, drought busting rainfall.  I think it rained for 30 days straight, at least a little every day.

The cucumbers have flourished and produced more than I’ve ever seen.  The vines have jumped out of their beds and spread out in the yard, and I’m literally tripping over cucumbers.  So, with the first crop, I decided to make pickles.  Having had bad luck pickling cucumbers in the past, and lots of mushy cucumbers I searched for a recipe with little canning time, in hopes for the crunchiest pickles possible.

Cucumbers!

Cucumbers!

I settled on this recipe with only 5 minutes of processing time.

Garlic Dills

Garlic Dills

For the cucumbers that were too long for the jars, I cut them down to size, then sliced the ends into disks for sandwiches.  I think the spears make a neater looking jar and easier to pack.

PIckles

PIckles

In about half of the jars, I included a dried red chili to impart some heat.  I also varied the spices in each batch, some adding pickling spice, some coriander, some simply black peppercorns.

Garlic Dill Disks

Garlic Dill Disks

And the cucumbers kept coming.

They just kept coming

They just kept coming

So I kept pickling them.  I could have tried different pickling applications, but I really just like garlcky dill pickles, so I stuck to those.

I also acquired some Cornichons from a local farm and pickled those too, using a 4 day recipe given to me by my friend Stephanie.  I trust her with all food things.  Actually most of the interesting things I’ve ever done were inspired by her.

Cornichons

Cornichons

And then Boggy Creek Farm has these cute little Mexican Sour Gherkins, so I pickled them too using this recipe.

Mexican Sour Gherkins

Mexican Sour Gherkins

These were a little time consuming, having to scrape off the blossom end then puncture each little one.

Blossom End

Blossom End

I learned some lessons from my nearly non-stop pickling.  The short 5 minute processing time makes a big difference in keeping pickles crunchy.  However, the  most important thing I’ve found, is pickling them immediately after harvesting.  The pickles I made with cucumbers harvested that day are crunchier than those made after a couple days in the fridge.  After about 2 days in the fridge, the cucumbers turn to mush when pickled.  And finally, a big lesson.  When planting cucumbers, also plant dill.

 

Homemade Cornichons May 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 4:17 pm
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Last Saturday at the Springdale Farm farm stand, I discovered that they had grown and harvested gherkins, and I bought them all.  These tiny cucumbers, aside from the cute factor, taste delicious, and when pickled, make a perfect complement to a charcuterie plate.  So, I bought all three baskets they had, and brought them home.

Once I had sterilized my pint jars, I estimated the pickling mixture needed, and mixed 2 cups white vinegar, 4 tablespoons pickling salt and 2/3 cups water.  I put a clove of garlic, a fresh bay leaf, and several whole peppercorns into each jar, as liquid heated on the stove.  Next, I packed the jars with the gherkins, as tightly as possible.

As soon as the salt dissolved and the pickling liquid came to a boil, I filled the jars and sealed.  I hadn’t pickled anything in a few months, and forgot how everything floats to the top, making it a tad harder to wipe the tops of the jars clean.  I got the jars sealed and processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  I had forgotten how easy pickling is, relative to canning other things.

Cornichons!