Fall means a number of eagerly anticipated things in our part of Texas. One of them is a second growing season. In our fall garden, Kristen and Nora are harvesting cucumbers! So we made dill pickles this week, a small batch which can be stored in the refrigerator.
Fall Garden Dill Pickles
Prepare the jars and lids you wish to use. The number will depend on the size and quantity of available cucumbers. Prepare more than you estimate needed.
12-15 pickling cucumbers, washed and patted dry
6 cups water
3 cups vinegar
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons sugar
12 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
large bunch of dill
yellow mustard seed
Set jars out on a tea towel. Into the bottom of each jar, place a garlic clove, one dill frond, several peppercorns, 1 teaspoon mustard seed.
Set aside any cucumbers you want to leave whole. Slice remaining cucumbers into 1/2 inch slices or spears. To make brine, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat. Add cucumbers to jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar . Do not pack them too tightly as you need room for the brine. Scatter more fresh dill, garlic, mustard seed, and peppercorns on top of the cucumbers. Finish by pouring into each jar enough brine to cover the cucumbers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one week before eating. Pickles should be good for at least 6 weeks after that. These small batches disappear fast.
PIckles, pickles, pickles. Our family loves dill pickles. When I have access to fresh pickling cucumbers and fresh dill, I try to make them .These pickles require no cooking, not even heating vinegar. We decided to experiment with 2 different seasoning mixes. Pickles on left were made with a Knorr packet of seasoning that features vinegar salt and is a German product, with all instructions in German. I Googled the name to get instructions. These pickles got a low rating from my tasters so I am posting only the recipe for those pictured in the right.
No Cook Dill Pickles
8 larger or to 10 smaller firm, fresh pickling cucumbers
3 teaspoons coarse or pickling salt
2 Tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 Tablespoon Penzy’s Pickling Spice blend
1/2 cup white vinegar
Slice your cucumbers very thin — I used 1/8-inch slices here but usually go even thinner on a mandoline. Place them in a 1-liter or equivalent lidded jar. Add 3 teaspoons salt and dill, then pour in white vinegar. Close the jar and give it a few shakes to begin distributing the ingredients.
You’re going to find the liquid level in the jar worrisomely low as it is well below the pickle pile line, but don’t fret. Within an hour or two, the salt will draw the moisture from the cucumbers and wilt them, while the liquid becomes a perfectly balanced pickle brine.
Place jar in the refrigerator near the front, which should remind you to shake it once or twice more over the new few hours. (Or whenever you’re back at the fridge.) Youcan eat them as little as 1 to 2 hours later, but they become ideal at 6 to 8 hours. They’ll keep in the fridge, submerged in their brine, for 3 weeks, though never around here.
I have loved this recipe for a long time and have always made it with zucchini. However, it is a great refrigerated cucumber pickle as well. We have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons so I am delighted to say my granddaughters went out to the tree the day before Thanksgiving and brought in a bucket full of lemons for our holiday cooking. This is a perfect side for so many meals,adds a fresh veggie touch that is more condiment than salad, but so good that you want to eat a bowlful! It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but never lasts that long around our house.
Lemon Zucchini Pickles
5-6 medium zucchini, sliced very thin. Do not peel
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced very thin into rounds, then halved
Cut thin zucchini slices and combinewith green pepper, celery seed, onion, and salt in large bowl. Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Pour over vegetable mixture and add lemon slices. Stir gently to blend, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
A variation of sliced cucumbers seasoned with salt and pepper and covered with vinegar, my new favorite side for grilled fish, meats or sandwiches is this delicious Marinated Cucumber and Basil. This is derived from a Japanese style pickle which uses Shiso instead of Basil. Shiso is an aromatic Asian herb which is becoming more popular but I do not have a good source for it, and I love basil. I added a just picked glossy jalapeno pepper, and the result was a perfect combination of sweet and heat served with a crunch. If you can’t take the heat, leave out the pepper, but be sure to try this. Try the marinade on carrots, radishes, onions, or almost any other summer vegetable. I like zucchini rounds!
Marinated Cucumber and Basil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweet Mirin, a Japanese rice wine
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 English cucumbers
1 seeded, sliced jalapeno pepper
8 or 10 large fresh basil leaves
Mix sugar, vinegar, Mirin, and salt in glass or pottery bowl (non-reactive). Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Slice cucumber very thin. Wash and pat basil leaves dry, then stack them and roll them. You may shred with a small sharp knife or cut across with kitchen shears.. Add cucumber slices and basil to marinade, tossing to cover as well as possible. They will shrink as they marinate. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Summertime in Texas means a jar of cucumbers (preferably homegrown) sitting in a jar in the refrigerator – cold, crunchy, snappy goodness that are a perfect side for almost any meal. No cooking required, so cool food, cool kitchen! My mother kept a jar of these cucumbers in her icebox, and I remember my grandmother making them, too. I usually make mine by heating water and the small amount of sugar needed until the sugar completely dissolves, then mixing with vinegar before pouring over layered cucumbers and sliced onions seasoned with salt and pepper.
There are many variations created by adding another vegetable or spices. If I have dill growing in my herb bed, I add a few sprigs of it. I have added celery seeds, cherry tomatoes or a sliced jalapeno. We like this best alongside a serving of fresh purple hull peas and a wedge of cornbread. When we lived in Indonesia, we learned to enjoy a version of this dish prepared in much the same way, but adding hot peppers and carrots, all chopped in small pieces. This is called acar, and is served as a condiment, served with many foods there, but always with nasi goreng (fried rice).
2-3 cucumbers, sliced (I peel them if they are storebought, but skip peeling when I bring them in from the garden)
1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup either white or apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Layer cucumbers and onions in a jar or container with cover and sprinkle a little salt over them. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook until just hot, not boiling. Pour over the cucumbers and onions. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.
Our sons, like their mom, liked to talk and did so early when they were babies. One of Sean’s favorite early words was “pickle.” We had a little book called Pickle Juice and when we read “pickle, pickle, pickle”, he would clap his hands and laugh out loud. I smiled thinking about the pickle book and Sean’s laughter when I made two kinds of pickles last week. The weather had been perfect for a bumper crop of dill heads, so I bought some pickling cukes at the market. I like to make refrigerator pickles because I don’t need to do a canning bath or soak cucumbers. I found this recipe on The Old Farmers Almanac blog, wwww.almanac.com and adapted it for my personal preference.
No canning or special equipment required! It’s simple, easy, and surprisingly delicious!
3-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canning salt (NOT table salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
cucumbers, unpeeled, sliced into disks (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic (whole)
2 heads fresh dill ( I love dill, so I always use more)
Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Turn off heat and set asidel. Add cucumbers, garlic, and dill to glass jars. Cover with the hot liquid. Put in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. I doubled the recipe when I filled these jars. The pickles should be good for 6 weeks. Enjoy!
Another garden harvest led to these yummy cauliflower pickles. I cut two heads of cauliflower, one golden yellow (Cheddar is its name) and one white, added carrots, onions, and lots of yummy spices for this delicacy which is typically used as a condiment in Israeli breakfasts!