I’ve always loved summer, but now that I have a garden, this time of year is my favorite. Right now, I can go out to the garden and get enough vegetables and herbs to actually make a full dinner (sans meat, of course – I don’t have a sausage tree yet). After the work and cost (hopefully, most of it a one-time cost now that we’ve built the beds and installed the irrigation system the) it’s finally producing things!
The plants that have been most productive so far (despite a groundhog invasion) are cucumbers. I’m getting about five or six per day from the four plants I have. Everyone who knows me knows I love pickling things (beets, snap peas, myself) but I've made actual pickles (with cucumbers) for the first time last year when I grew Salt and Pepper cucumbers (which are yellow/white). They came out OK, not magnificent. I actually made a large batch and processed them, which made them a little limp and less crunchy, so from now on I’m just planning on making smaller batches of refrigerator pickles which seem to retain their crunch a bit more.
This year I grew regular green Northern Pickling cukes. Our neighbor asked if I could make him some bread and butter pickles, which I hadn’t ever done, and after seeing the recipe in the NYT for Bread & Butter pickles, I thought I’d give them a try. As usual, I poked around a bit more on the internet to see if there were some other variations, and I found one on Smitten Kitchen that added onions and turmeric (which give them a little bit of a nice yellowish color) so I thought I’d meld the two recipes and see how they came out. I think they are fantastic (and so does my neighbor).
Bread and Butter Pickles
- 2 lbs cucumbers, washed, unpeeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices (a mandoline works well for this)
- 1 small onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
- 1/4 c kosher salt
- 1/2 c distilled vinegar
- 1/2 c cider vinegar
- 3/4 c sugar in the raw
- 1 T yellow mustard seeds
- 1 T whole corriander seeds
- 1/2 t ground tumeric
- 1 t whole alspice berries
- 1 t whole peppercorns
Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a collander and mix in the Kosher salt. Cover with icecubes and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Briefly rinse and gently squeeze any remaining water from the cukes. (I generally taste them here to make sure they aren't too salty. If they are, rinse them again.) In a non-reacive saucepan, mix the vinegars, sugar and all of the spices. Bring to a boil, then add the cukes. Bring almost to a boil, then turn off the heat and put pickles in jars, filling almost to the top, and adding any brine to cover the pickles. Let cool then refrigerate.
Makes approximately six eight ounce jars of pickles. You can easily cut this in half if you only have a pound of cukes.