Pickle Time!

Every year I grow cucumbers in my garden and I think they are my favorite veggies to grow because no matter what, they grow in abundance.  I try tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, berries, herbs and more every year and typically some things grow and others do not.  I have been gardening now for years and I still have not mastered it.  But those good ‘ole cukes are foolproof.  They make me feel like I do something well!  Here’s a tip if you decide to grow cukes-buy either a trellis or a few ladders so you can raise the cucumber vines off the ground.  If you leave them on the ground, they will grow and snake, much like a squash plant, and the cukes could rot if kept so close to the ground, or eaten by bugs and worms.

Once you prop up your plants, you will see that you don’t need to have a green thumb to grow a bounty of cukes.  Every day when I walk into the garden, there are literally 2-3 full grown cukes waiting to be picked, when the day before I may have barely seen them.

My son, the picky eater, eats them whole like they were doughnuts.  Score.  Today I decided to take half of my just picked bunch and make dill pickles.  I love them and would rather make them myself than to buy them in the store.  I got a little carried away and decided then to make bread and butter pickles and then to pickle jalapenos, also from the garden.  All easy, all economical, and they all keep in the fridge for a long while.

I don’t do anything buy the book so this may not mirror a recipe you will find anywhere else – usually a recipe will tell you to mix the seeds and spices with the liquids first and then pour the mixture over the sliced cukes for even distribution but I didn’t do that.  Just a warning.

What I did do was to slice my cukes (you could make spears too) and shove them into a glass jar until it was jam packed.  Once I saw how many I was going to use, I took them out and put them into a bowl and tossed them with kosher salt (about a tablespoon), whole black peppercorns, coriander powder (a pinch), two tablespoons minced fresh dill and whole mustard seeds.  After evenly coating the slices, I put everything back in the jar and added sliced garlic and a bay leaf, then filled the jar with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 warm water.  Put the lid on tightly, shook it up and tucked it into the fridge.

I was happy about my dills but wanted some bread and butter pickles too so I set about to make this recipe from Rachael Ray, but with a slightly different twist.  In this case a sweetener is needed but I don’t like using sugar, so I opted for honey, which worked just great.

Last, I decided to pickle jalapenos.  I love jalapenos on their own, but sometimes they are too strong for me so pickling them not only mellows them out slightly, but it keeps them for months in the fridge.  I stole this recipe from Gweneth Paltrow’s new book, It’s All Good, and have found these to be a great flavor blast to anything from sandwiches to salads to tacos of course.  I am addicted to these babies!  Let’s see if I can remember what I did:

I sliced a bunch of jalapenos and stuck them in a glass jar, seeds and all.  In a small pot, I boiled coriander seeds, black peppercorns, a tablespoon of salt, white wine vinegar and a little water and shut it off as soon as it boiled.  I poured the liquid so it covered the peppers, then sealed it tight and stuck it in the fridge.  She says to give it a week before eating but in the three times I have made this, I have never waited more than a day or two!

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