My family loves kosher dills/fermented cukes/sour pickles so much, and I had a hard time finding good pickling cukes, so I decided to use my raised bed space for cucumbers instead of green beans this year. I have tried cucumbers maybe once or twice before and got basically nothing: the vines wilted or the leaves got powdery or something ate everything.
Well. I planted the whole packet of Parisian Pickling Cucumbers, timing them to be ready once we got home from our big Seattle trip (there's a post!) and figuring that I'd only get a handful anyway if I was lucky. Well no. Turns out, this is The Summer When All the Cucumbers Grow. All my friends who planted cucumbers are overflowing and pickling and laughing in disbelief.
As a cucumber novice, I am not very good at getting the buggers at the little pickling size I wanted. Overnight, they grew six inches into logs! Which were bitter and seedy and tossed on the compost pile.
I made gallons and gallons of fermented cukes (method below). I also made two batches of bread and butter pickles from the Mennonite Community Cookbook, as well as 7-Day-Sweets, a childhood favorite that involved pouring boiling water over the cukes several days in a row to make them crisp. Why does this work? I don't know, but it does.
I made pickle relish, fridge pickles, and salad after salad. Because I planted so many plants close together and did not water them regularly, but regularly let some of them get too big, I had to deal with bitter cucumbers. I tried cutting off the stem end and then rubbing it on the cut end until a bitter white foam came out. I tried salting sliced cukes and then rinsing them. My best success was slicing cukes and soaking them in salted ice water for about an hour, then draining and rinsing.
Last week, the cucumber plants finally showed signs of slowing down, so I yanked them out. I still have over 1 1/2 gallons of fermented dills in the fridge, plus fridge pickles, and a crisper drawer full of cucumbers. On my to-do list: "decide what to do with cukes." I guess we will eat pickles for every meal this winter?
Did you plant cucumbers this year and get a roaring crop? Or is something else bursting from your garden?
Fermented Dill Pickles
In a half gallon glass jar, combine:
1 Tbsp. fine sea salt (not iodized)
1 quart room temperature non-chlorinated water
1 Tbsp. dill seeds
1 tsp. dill weed
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
Stir and/or set aside until salt is dissolved.
Wash and trim ends from small pickling cucumbers - I usually kept them under 4" and a thumb-size diameter. Drop them into the brine, shaking and pushing to fill up the jar but making sure they can all be submerged. May need to add a little more water and salt. Keep the pickles submerged under brine by filling a smaller jar with water and capping it and setting it in the jar on top of the pickles.
Set jar in room temperature for 48 hours. Should see foam and bubbling action. Scrape off the foam before capping and storing in fridge. Keeps indefinitely in fridge. Sometimes I use a cup or so of the brine in a new jar of fermented dills. If you have fresh dill, use 2 heads or so in place of the dried stuff.
Fermenting cucumbers is something I've never tried. Now I'd like to! I'd be interested in the recipe for the stuff on the right on your fridge shelf - looks like it has carrots in it. What is it?
I did NOT have a banner year for cucumbers. First the deer nibbled them, then the heat just did them in. Oh well, I got plenty at the farmers market.
If you have any freezer space, I highly recommend freezer pickles. It's my go-to when another bag of cucs land on my front porch and it's just too hot to deal. I also do a quick cucumber salad, where I toss sliced cucs with red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (divine with some radish!) which also works with fresh local chevre. Tabbouleh is another good way of using them up.
I'm so glad your cucumbers turned out this year! Hooray! I'm glad to see you back online as well. I enjoy reading your blog.
I didn't plant any cukes this year but I've been there with the crazy abundance spilling out of the beds! We've had years when the basement was bulging with jars of pickles. We found that we prefer refrigerator pickles for their crunch and so purchased a small fridge for the basement - that tells you about our commitment to pickles! LOL. (I'm pretty sure I still have some dill relish on the pantry shelf, now that I think about it.)
Looking forward to hearing about Seattle!
dear Unknown, the jar on the right is fridge pickles and those are orange bell pepper slices! I followed a recipe for sweet fridge pickles with cukes, peppers, onions and celery seed, but I also added a little black pepper and coriander. Really good!
I have exactly four cucumbers in my garden. Either my plants are way behind (entirely possible) or it is not my year for cucumbers. Enjoy your bounty (and the joys and issues that come with bounty!).
I enjoyed seeing your pictures of your trip to Washington. We were in Seattle a day behind you. I have yet to make it to the ONP.
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