Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cucumber Crunch Time

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 9:01 AM

click to enlarge brined_pickles_teds.jpg

The cucumber vines looked so small when we planted them. Now just three of them in the Square Foot kitchen garden crank out five to eight cukes a week. Even ramped up to Full Cucumber Processing mode, including cucumber paletas, cucumber limeade and cucumber salads-n-sandwiches, it's not possible to use them all. So it was time for pickles.

The term "pickles," like the term "coffee," covers a lot of ground--everyone likes them, but everyone likes them a different way. The crunchy, salty and not-vinegary pickles at Ted's Montana Grill (in the photo above) and Noshville grab Big Fella's fancy. This pickle, it seems, is challenging, involving crocks, fermenting and time. Lots of that.

But why not? With recipes, it's possible for it to be time-consuming but easy. That's doable, and there's no point in making an easy pickle that no one will eat.

Three pounds of cukes, the Ball Blue Book (that sort of makes me blush) and about three weeks of waiting produced a batch of little salt spears. Each pickle was a missile of sodium headed straight for your kidneys. Even Big Fella, the habitual salt-abuser, couldn't eat them. A 24-hour soak in hot water helped a lot. The second helped even more. They are actually pretty good pickles. Hey, check it out--I made kosher dill pickles! But that was 23 days of work for three jars of pickles.

On yesterday's visit to the cucumber vines, only three cucumbers were visible at all and none of them was ready to pick. And it was such a relief.

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