AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Preserving Summer: Cucumbers DATE: 9/10/2008 02:27:00 PM ----- BODY:
When I visited Ed Bruske’s urban garden, I sampled several varieties of his homemade pickles. He had an impressive array of sour, dill, Cajun, bread and butter. Pickles are one of the few things I’ve never made before, so I decided that this summer I would try my hand.

I decided to start with the Bread and Butter variety (it was either that or the dill). I really like pickle relish in my tuna and egg salads, so this seemed like a good beginning. Ed has a wonderful primer with recipes on his website that I used as my guide.

Since I didn’t have pickling lime, which seemed to be a key element in his recipe, I combined the salt ratio for the basic dill with the ingredients of the “bread and butter.” I cooked the pickles for half the recommended time in hopes of preserving the crunch. And if you can believe, I couldn’t find celery seed at the Whole Foods, so I used celery growing in the garden. The flavors came out wonderful. The texture was somewhere between firm and crunchy. I’ll leave full-on crunchy for the experts.

This is what I came up with:

Bread and Butter Pickles
4 cucumbers, sliced into ½ inch wheels
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tbs. mustard seeds
1 celery stalk
¼ tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. clove
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
Black Pepper, freshly ground

Put everything in a stainless steel (or non-reactive pot). Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let pickles stand overnight. They will keep for 2 weeks this way or you can can them.

The garden continues to proliferate cucumbers. With early success in the first pickle venture, I decided to try again with half sour dills.

This time I followed Ed's recipe more closely.

Half-Sour Dill Pickles

For every 2 cups of water, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Use enough water to cover cucumber wedges. Add crushed garlic, fresh dill and black pepper. Let sit for at least 24 hours to ferment before storing in the fridge or canning.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:9/10/2008 08:24:00 PM Bread-and-butter pickles are, to me, the epitome of old-fashioned, go-with-hamburgers, garden goodness. Most of the time I make half-sour dill pickles, which are my favorite for snacking. But nothing beats the color of the bread-and-butter. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:9/11/2008 07:28:00 AM Lydia, It was so fun experimenting with pickles - and I have to agree the B&B pickles are the best. I'm already onto the second batch. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:9/11/2008 09:06:00 PM For oh the longest time, I've had "homemade pickles," recipe-less, on my to do list. I have to admit though I am actually not a fan of the B&B. I'd probably love them homemade though. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:9/12/2008 08:30:00 AM Melissa, Come on over and I'll give you a sample! :) Seriously, though, that's the beauty of homemade -- you can make them exactly as you like them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:10/02/2008 05:53:00 PM can u buy pickling dills(cukes) and dill(fresh) in california, in mid november..going to visit my kids and want to make them for my grandchildren...In b.c. we do them at the end of August...Thanks ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:10/03/2008 08:23:00 AM Anonymous, For sure you can get dill in November. I don't know what variety of cucumbers will be available in CA, but you want young, low water varieties. ----- --------