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.



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.



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.



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.


Memorial Day in an Austin Urban Garden May 29, 2011

I can’t believe the end of May is already here.  I feel so blessed with my harvest of tomatoes already, and there are more to come.  My kitchen window has housed the rotation of tomatoes from daily harvests for the last 5 weeks or so.

Yesterday's window

May 16th window

May 6th window

I have no idea how many tomatoes I’ve harvested this Spring, but it has been a lot.  Everyone who visits gets a bag full; everyone I visit gets a bag full, my freezer is full, and I’m eating them as fast as I can.  I’m in garden tomato heaven, and there are lots more where those came from.

More tomatoes!

The cucumbers have done fairly well, and I’ve harvested two very different ones, a Straight 8 and a long curly one.  Since those were harvested, the plants have taken off and started flowering more.

Cucumber plant

I pickled mine and some from the farmer’s market, yesterday.


The peppers have been heavy producers as well, and I’m eating peppers every chance I get.  This morning I picked the biggest of the jalapenos, serranos, padrons and an Anaheim.  The Hinklehatz aren’t turning red just yet, but I have a plant full of them.

This morning's pepper harvest

The watermelon plants took off after I fed them some Buds and Blooms and gave them a good douse of water.  There are tiny watermelons making an appearance.


I still haven’t managed to grow fantastic corn.  It is delicious, but the ears never fill out as much as I’d like.



My breakfast gets eaten outside these days, as I pluck nearly ripe tomatoes with blackberry stained fingers.


The citrus are coming right along, too.  Meyer lemons, key limes, and  Satsuma oranges have all set fruit.

Meyer Lemon

I have had a dwarf peach tree in a pot on my driveway for 3 or 4 years.  Each year, it has peaches on it, and each year, they get stolen, by some animal.  This year, my little tree has 18 peaches on it, and remains unmolested by nature.  I’m ecstatic.


I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful garden this year.  Yet, I have no idea why my garden, and everyone else’s that I know, are so very productive and trouble free.  Did the freeze kill the bugs?  Maybe.  But where are the squirrels?  I have no idea, but I’m thankful for it!


Preserving Garden Cucumbers – Pickling July 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 9:14 pm
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I was fortunate to have 4 lemon cucumbers ripe at one time, normally it is about 2 at once.  Not having the full range of grocery store spices available to me to use Ruhlman’s pickling recipe, I took them to my friend Christian’s and bartered for half, if he would pickle them.  He had just harvested a couple of very large cucumbers from his garden, and I bought some more at the Triangle Farmer’s Market Wednesday.  Pickling should be done in large batches.

Pickling spice, water, vinegar, salt

First he mixed the pickling spice, vinegar, water and salt.

Fancy mandoline, made slicing a breeze

Packing the jars

The lemon cucumbers might not be the best pickling cucumbers, because they have more seedy pulp area, and are not as firm.  But, we will find out.

Lemon cucumber

Next, we filled the jars with the pickling liquid.  Actually, the “I” in “we” petted the puppy.

Almost pickles

You know how pickles make your mouth water just thinking about them?  That would be me, right about now.  3-4 weeks later, we should have some amazing pickles.

And for the cat lovers:

Cats just seem to love boxes



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