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A Race Against the Weather

September 27th, 2010

Remember that batch of fall cucumbers I planted hoping for a late September or early October harvest of cucumbers before the first frost? Well, they’re doing well. They quickly climbed their supports and are blooming prolifically, which the bees are loving. I spotted the first baby cucumber late last week and I’ve been keeping my eye on it.

It looks like I should get a decent harvest, unless we get an early frost or the weather turns cold earlier than normal. I should be able to pick my first cucumber later this week, perhaps tomorrow!

Here’s hoping for another large jar of pickles in the fridge to feast on all winter long!

Do you have any crops you’re hoping to harvest before frost sets comes in your garden?

Fermenting Some Pickles

August 16th, 2009

A couple weeks ago Mr Chiot’s 2nd mom sent me this book that was her mom’s. It’s an old Farm Journal Country Cookbook. It’s from the 70’s so all of the photos are quite fun, it’s amazing how far food photography has come since then (just check out
While leafing through it I was trying to decide what I could make from it. It has all kinds of exciting recipes, it’s particularly good for seasonal cooking recipes. It also has some interesting kitchen items that most people don’t keep in their kitchens any more, like a stone or a paraffined brick.
I came across this recipe for 14-day Sweet Pickles. Since I’ve been wanting to make a batch of brined pickles I decided this would be the perfect recipe to try.
I now have a batch of pickles in the dining room brining away. They’ll sit in their brine for, then on the 8th day I start the week-long process of finishing the pickles. I’m kind of excited to see how they turn out. I’ll be sharing some with Brian’s parents next time they come for a visit.

14-Day Sweet Pickles
adaptation of an heirloom recipe long prized in country kitchens

3 1/2 qts (2″) pickling cucumbers (about 4 lbs)
1 c. coarse flake pickling salt
2 qts boiling water
1/2 tsp powdered alum (I’m not using alum in my recipe)
5 c. vinegar
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
4 -2″ cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 c. sugar

1. Wash cucumbers carefully; cut in lengthwise halves and place in stone crock, glass, pottery or enamel-lined pan (I cut mine into big chunks).
2. Prepare brine by dissolving salt in boiling water; pour over cucumbers. Weight cucumbers down with a place almost as large as the crock and lay a stone or parraffined brick (not marble or limestone) on plate to keep cucumbers under the brine. Let stand 1 week.
3. On the 8th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
4. On the 9th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water mixed with alum over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
5. On the 10th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
6. The next day, drain. Combine vinegar, 3 c. sugar, celery seeds and cinnamon; heat to boiling point and pour over cucumbers.
7. For the next 3 days, drain, retaining liquid. Reheat liquid each morning adding 1/2 c. sugar each time. After the last heating, on the 14th day, pack pickles into hot jars. Remove cinnamon sticks; pour boiling hot liquid over pickles; adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath (212) 5 minutes. Remove jars and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing type. Makes 5-6 pints. (current standards say to process pickles for 10 minutes in a water bath canner).

Do you have any old heirloom cookbooks in your kitchen? Have you ever made a recipe from it?

Making Pickles

July 14th, 2009

On Sunday evening I went out and picked 4 Boston Pickling Cucumbers that were the perfect size for pickling in spears. I have been reading through the book I got the other day and I settled on a quick pickle recipe.
I reduced the recipe because most of them call for several pounds of cucumbers and I only had about 1 and a quarter pound. So I found a recipe that made 1 quart. I changed it a bit, because I just can’t seem to follow a recipe by the book.
We’ll see how they turn out, I didn’t can them because it was such a small batch. I’m basically brining them in the fridge for a month or so.
Here’s the recipe I used:

Quick Small Batch Dill Pickles
4 pickling cucumbers (around 1 pound)
1 cup water
7/8 cup of white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of pickling salt
2 garlic cloves
8 peppercorns
2 teaspoons of pickling spice (or a pinch of flaked red pepper)
fresh dill sprigs
8 sour cherry leaves (they’re supposed to promote crispness) or 3-4 grape leaves

Bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Meanwhile scrub and cut pickles into desired sizes. Add pickling spices, peppercorns, fresh dill, cherry leaves to quart canning jar. Add pickles to jar and pour brine over the pickles. Seal with lid and put in refrigerator for at least one month. Alternately you can water bath can pints or quarts for 10 minutes .

I’ll let you know in a month or so how they turned out. My next batch will probably be using a different recipe, perhaps I’ll try soaking the cucumbers in salt before I pickle them. Or perhaps I’ll make some fermented pickles.

Do you like sour or sweet pickles?

Time for Pickles

July 11th, 2009

When Mr Chiots went to the library yesterday, The Joy of Pickling, Revised Edition: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Marketwas in for me.
It came in just in time, because when I was out looking around the garden yesterday evening I spotted these.
I’m planning on making refrigerator pickles because I like them really crispy. I’ll probably be making them on Sunday or early next week when I have some time.

Are you already preserving from your garden harvest?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.