I ended yesterday's post with a photo of the day's yield from our garden...
While that post was about Jersey Tomatoes, I promised to talk about another abundant crop from our garden this week and share a recipe. As you can see from the photo, our cucumbers are producing like crazy! The plants seem to love the trellis that Dave built for them.
The plants are so thick and lush that you really have to search among the leaves or you could easily miss a cucumber hidden among the foliage.
However the real surprise is when you look underneath the trellis
Since we had such a large amount of cucumbers, we had to come up with many ways to use them. Of course we love to eat some plain or have them cut up in garden salads, as well as using them in the recipe for marinated cucumbers that I shared with you last month.
My dad's family owned several acres of land in the Poconos when he was growing up, and they always had multiple gardens. I can remember going to visit my grandmother when I was little, and the shelves in her basement were continuously lined with rows and rows of mason jars filled with home canned produce from their gardens. They even had a root cellar near the barn. Sadly, I never learned to can, though I keep saying it is something I want to try. Until I attempt the canning procedure however, I found a really easy alternative for using our stash of cucumbers...Refrigerator Pickles! This method is simple and does not utilize the traditional canning method. From what I've read, most recipes made this way indicate that they can be kept for up to 3 months, but I have to admit that our stash lasted longer than that last year, and they were just fine. We've tried several refrigerator pickle recipes over the years, and today I am going to share one of our favorites. I obtained this version from Our Best Bites, and it looks like they got the original recipe from Ted Allen at Food Network Magazine.
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed (I tend to add extra garlic, especially if the cloves are small)
2 cups white vigegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
several sprigs fresh dill, unchopped (I use about 1 to 1 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
cucumbers or other desired fresh vegetables
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat and bring back to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat.
Evenly divide the dill among 2 1-quart canning jars. Divide the remaining spices between the jars. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the brine and evenly divide the cloves among the two jars. Pack each jar with cucumbers or other vegetables until each jar is tightly stuffed.
Bring the brine back to a boil and then pour it over the veggies to cover completely. Allow to cool. I initially could not fit all of the brine in the 2 jars, but as they were cooling, some settling occurred and I added more brine at that point. Once cooled, place the lids on the jars and refrigerate. They can be sampled within a few hours but have a more intense pickle flavor after a few days.
Some other refrigerator pickle recipes I have read suggest letting the brine cool prior to adding it to the jars. Although the flavor might take longer for the vegetables to absorb, it has been suggested that this method could result in a crunchier pickle. We found our pickles to be quite crunchy when we followed the recipe as outlined above, but I might try cooling the brine before adding it to the jars with the next batch I make to see if there is a noticeable difference.