“When cucumbers in the garden are ready, we cover the whole patch each time (we pick them), picking all cucumbers of eating and pickling size and larger. They are then sorted into gherkin, dill chunk, relish, and if some get by and become yellow, into ripe cucumber pickle sizes.” -Brownie Schrumpf
With this latest spell of hot and steamy weather, my cucumber patch is exploding. Hundreds of bright yellow blossoms decorate the prickly, green vines. All sorts of pollinators buzz from early dawn until dusk, spreading the wealth that one day will become pickles.
My husband likes to scour the cucumber plants early in the morning, just before the dew has dried. Following the advice of Brownie Schrumpf, (my “foodie hero”; a longtime Bangor food educator, food writer and college friend of my grandmother), we sort our cucumbers. The Suyo longs make the best Bread & Butter pickles, Double Yield is tasty as a dill spear, and the Wautomas are tasty in any pickling recipe.
We don’t always want to wait a few weeks to enjoy the crisp bite of a perfect pickle with our sandwich, and that’s when I like to make Deb’s Favorite Refrigerator Pickles.
My friend Deb Suran grows vegetables in the same way I enjoy baking bread; plenty of extras for friends and family. She tells me that this brine will pickle any vegetable: onions, garlic, sweet and hot peppers, carrots, even cauliflower, which is “fantastic, add some diced green bell peppers for a little snap.” I like this recipe because it allows for plenty of creative license with what’s available in your garden or at the market. Purple basil blossoms, feathery cilantro blooms, bay leaves, even cinnamon sticks add a different dimension to the flavor. Just be sure to use a canning or pickling salt, one without additives and iodine, which will discolor your perfect pickle. And be sure to share, I’d love to try some!