Pickle me Pink

by Lynea Newcomer

I came to pickles late in life, needing experience with bitterness before I could develop desire. Sweet foods? No problem. That must be a natural for most of us. I never believe it when people say they don’t like sweet stuff. Super sweet frosting? Yeah, I understand. But how could you not love the natural sweet of fresh berries or best of all, a peach?

Back to pickles, those reincarnations of the abundant cucurbit plants. I am under the impression of having planted a mini Gherkin variety put out by Happy Cat Organics. They’ve turned out to be anything but miniature due in part to my every-other day harvest schedule and abundant rain. Further, the rampant vine syndrome of Lynea’s Gardens. It was a typical case of mistaken identity; I planted what I thought to be three cucumber plants in one area . . . two of those plants have matured into honeydew melon-bearing vines.

Moving on. Neighbors have graciously accepted some cucumber gifts, resisting their urges to throw excess zucchini at my windows I am sure. And I have set the gas range a-roaring with boiling water baths and vinegar/water concoctions to transform summer’s abundance into food we’ll eat during winter. Here is a pickling recipe with a couple options, earnestly passed along by a new acquaintance eager to share her mother’s wisdom. I just may receive another on-farm visit from this gal, so eager is she to get her own two hands back into such time-honored rituals.

You’ll need three clean large mouth 1-qt. Ball, Mason or Kerr Jars with new lids, and as many cucumbers (cleaned and sliced) as will fit in them. Also: 2 1/2 cups Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar (5% acidity) and 2 1/2 cups water; 12 cloves garlic (peeled), 1/4 cup pickling salt; lots of fresh dill or your own concoction of pickling spices (recipe below.)

In a very large soup pot, bring water to a boil (enough so that placing the 3 Jars in this water covers them by a 1/2 inch). Using sturdy tongs, dip the Jars into the boiling water to sterilize. Do the same with the lids. Then, in 3-quart saucepan, combine water, vinegar, garlic cloves, and pickling salt. Bring to a boil. Now divide those garlic pieces between the Jars, and add your pickling spices of choice and/or dill. Slide in the cucumber slices (or whole, tiny, cukes). Take the boiling vinegar/water and pour it over the contents of the three Jars, filling each to within a 1/2 inch of the top of the glass. Slide a slim utensil down into the Jars to help release air bubbles. Next, place the lids on the Jars firmly, screw down several times. Place the Jars into the boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes. After removing them, allow to sit, and follow-up check to see that the lids popped ‘down’.

I also tried this recipe using white vinegar and green beans. I’ll write of the result when I pop open the jars in months to come. I am curious to see if they turn out mushy. Might have to do more ’sweet’ pickle recipes despite limited refrigerator space they require.

A picking spice recipe to try:

2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 small bay leaves, broken up
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, cracked in small pieces
1 teaspoon cardamom

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Interested in how to preserve more local produce?

Check out the Kimberton Whole Foods Local Preserving and Canning Workshop Series

Kimberton Whole Foods
2140 Kimberton Road
Kimberton, PA 19442

8/21/2009 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Preserving and Freezing

This is the second in a series of Local Food Preservation Workshops held throughout 2009 at Kimberton Whole Foods to help launch the Good Food Neighborhood. Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld of Essen Cooking School in Lancaster will lead a small group in a hands-on session to help you discover an underappreciated workhorse in your kitchen: your freezer.  (Menu to be announced).

Cost: $45.

9/12/2009 3:30pm – 5:30pm

Preserving Tomatoes

This is the third in a series of Local Food Preservation Workshops held throughout 2009 at Kimberton Whole Foods to help launch the Good Food Neighborhood. Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld of Essen Cooking School in Lancaster will lead a small group through new ideas for “putting up” tomatoes just when you think you’ve had enough.  Featuring:
• Cooked Salsa
• Mediterranean Tomato Jam

Cost: $45.

Really take it home.
All Food items and canning jars will be available for purchase at a discount on the day of the workshop.

Reserve your spot!
To reserve online, visit breathelivegrow.com and select ‘Reserve Now’ and ‘Cook with Essen’.  Or: ring 717-391-8270 to reserve by phone.

About the Series:
These hands-on workshops will give you new ideas on time-honored traditions, introduce you to fellow foodies, and help you celebrate the local bounty year round.