I planted 12 pickling cucumber starts around mid-May, and today picked the first mature cucumbers! YES. Where there are good spicy pickles, cold winter days are tolerable, and a grilled cheese sandwich elevates into heaven. There always seems to be an acclimating time after planting, before vegetables really take hold and begin to thrive. I spent a few minutes each day, back in the spring, stroking and encouraging the plants with “You are so beautiful! You can do it!” I loved how the vines became packed with their bright yellow blossoms and tiny cucumbers. I had seen this transformation before with vegetables, from nearly withering away to happy growth, and did the same with the sweet watermelon plants, butternut squashes, leeks, strawberries. Talking to and loving them, for me, creates a rich energy connection in the garden, and the full on lushness now is really a joy.
Come through the side gate and walk back to the garden —
this way back….until you find the cucumbers…
I’ve been making the same kosher dill recipe for over 30 years. They are truly fantastic. The recipe is from The Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Andersen and Elaine Hanna, copyright 1975, no longer in print, if you can find a copy, you’ll treasure it! I love this cookbook and it shows – the classic raggedy binding and spotted recipe pages. If you want to make pickles, it’s the place. Lemon Curd. Cottage Cheese. Best ever Crazy Chocolate Cake. If you wanted to roast a possum, you could do that, too. My first batch of pickles was when I was pregnant with my son which was perfect timing with my food cravings! We bought the cucumbers at Nashida Farms outside of Longmont, Colorado, a great market then owned by a Japanese family, when we lived up in the mountains of Estes Park. I even took a photo back then of my “Tickled Pickles”:
Kosher Dill Pickles
makes about 8 pints
3 – 3 1/2 dozen small to medium size cucumbers (about 4″ long) left whole, halved or sliced into chips
1 gallon cold water mixed with 1/2 c. pickling salt (brine)
Let cucumbers stand in brine three to four hours..
1 quart apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. pickling salt
1/2 c. organic sugar
3 tbsp. mixed pickling spices
PER JAR: 1 bay leaf, 1 peeled and bruised large garlic clove, 1-2 sprigs fresh dill, 1 thin dried red hot chili – such as serrano, 1 tsp. mustard seed
Wash and sterilize 8 (1 pint) jars and closures. Drain cucumbers and pack into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. To each jar add 2 sprigs dill, 1 clove garlic, 1 bay leaf and one dried red hot chili pepper, poking about half way down into jar. Set uncovered into a 250 degree oven, (this is helpful if you have a big batch working alone….but pickle parties are wonderful too!)
Simmer vinegar, water, salt, sugar and pickling spices, uncovered, 15 minutes in an enamel or stainless-steel saucepan, stirring now and then. Pour boiling hot into jars, filling to within 1/8″ of tops. Wipe rims and seal. (Or, if you prefer, fill jars to within 1/4″ of top, seal, and process in hot water bath 10 minutes. Take from water bath and secure seals if necessary.) Cool, check seals, label and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Let unprocessed pickles stand 4-6 weeks before using, processed ones 3 weeks. I hope you’ll try them – and let me know how you like!