One vegetable I planted for our ceremonial first in-ground garden was cucumber. Why not? Cucumbers are great and crispy and full of life-giving water! They also seem to go bad very quickly after being bought in, say, a store. Clearly, keeping them on the vine until we want to eat them is the perfect solution. So I started some Japanese cucumber seeds, transplanted the seedlings into the ground beside our garage, and trained the resulting vines around a couple tomato cages to ward off any potential ground rot.
Then we went off to Oregon for vacation. When we came back, the vines looked normal and healthy. The cucumbers, however, had erupted into 12-inch behemoths. I picked one to use for salads. It took us more than a week to get through maybe half of it. In the meantime, the rest of the cucumbers were getting bigger and bigger.
Well. It was clearly time to make some pickles. Yay, pickles!
Since there are so many different pickles out there, I thought I'd start with a small refrigerator batch. That way, if we loved them, we could make more, and if we hated them, we'd only be out a few cups of brine. So I went over to Food in Jars and found these refrigerator dills. Perfect.
So, after acquiring the dill seed that I for one totally did not have kicking around the spice cabinet, I chopped a single cucumber into a bunch of 5-inch spears and set out to make two pints of refrigerator dills. Obviously, I used a Japanese cucumber instead of a bunch of Kirbys. I also changed the apple cider vinegar to plain white vinegar, because that's what was in our cabinet. Otherwise, I went entirely by the book:
- Wash cucumber, trim ends, and cut into spears.
- Boil 3/4 c water and 3/4 c vinegar with 2 tsp salt until salt dissolves.
- Get out two pint jars; add 2 peeled garlic cloves, 2 chopped green onion whites, and 1 tsp dill seed to each.
- Cram cucumber spears into jars.
- Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch of space.
- Cap, cool, and store in the refrigerator.
Yes, that is one cucumber.
While I was filling my jars, I kept flashing back to the bit of Emily of New Moon (or was it Emily Climbs? Who knows) in which Emily learns how to put pickles in jars in patterns. I most certainly didn't get my pickles into the jars in any sort of pattern. I was just happy to get them upright in the jars with minimal crushage.
I was a little wary of the result, since most pickle recipes I've seen use actual heads of fresh dill instead of seeds (of course, there must be seeds in the heads, but still). So we gave the pickles their alloted day to set, then cracked open a jar and tried some. Verdict: these are some good dill pickles. Since the cucumbers aren't cooked, they are super crunchy and light in color, while still providing a significant garlic-dill kick. Success! I will pay $3.50 for a jar of pickles no more again forever!