This is the time of year when my garden comes into it's own
We've had LOTS of rain, LOTS of sun, and long, long Summer days. All of this adds up to LOTS of veggies!
The only thing that's confusing me is that my garden has somehow gone all topsy-turvey.
Normally I have heaps of carrots, capsicums and beans, and struggle to get a cucumber or two growing. But this year the cucumbers are starting to strangle the garden, my carrots are hibernating and my beans reluctantly spat out 6 pods. Who knows? I figure the best way is just to plant, plant, plant and hope for the best. With this weeks rain achieving one third of our annual precipitation in just one day and the bulk of the heat yet to come, my garden may spring into tropical mode and surprise me with bananas growing from the compost heap :)
Cucumbers aren't great keepers, they really need to be eaten fairly quickly after harvest. I have put them in salads, made instant pickles, juiced them, made cocktails and sorbet, gazpacho, given them away....and still have more than I can deal with. Littlej and I eat a lot of pickles/gherkins, so the logical choice was to process some ourselves for the lean times when the garden hunkers down for winter
Lovely fresh herbs, garlic from the garden and a simple pickling vinegar makes this a nice and easy recipe that will have you wishing you had cucumbers growing in your garden too
5 medium Cucumbers
3 cups White Vinegar
2 cups Sugar
1 head of Garlic
2 Tb Mustard Seeds
Slice the cucumbers nice and thin- the easiest way to do this is with a mandoline slicer
Layer the the slices in a colander and sprinkle each layer with a dusting of salt. The idea is to allow the salt to draw out some of the natural water in the cucumbers so they will stay crisp and last longer in the pickle. Leave these overnight
Rinse briefly to remove the salt, then drain well or pat dry
See how nice and bendy they are now? You couldn't do this with a fresh piece
Pop the vinegar, sugar, seeds and sliced garlic into a pot and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes
While the vinegar is boiling, fold the slices into warm, sterilized jars and add a few sprigs of dill to each
Pour the hot vinegar into the jars to almost the top, tapping them hard on the bench to make sure there are no air bubbles hiding in the cucumber slices. Make sure the slices are fully covered
Screw on the clean jar lids then turn the jars upside down briefly so the boiling hot vinegar comes in contact with the lid as well
Let the jars sit on the bench overnight to cool, the lids should pop down as a vacuum is formed and seal the contents perfectly. If any of them don't pop down, put them in the fridge and use first
You can of course eat these pickles after a day or two, but they really do taste much better indeed if you leave them for a few weeks to mellow and mature. The colour will change from bright green to a sort of khaki, but that's just from the acid and is nothing to worry about at all
Sweet and tangy, sharp and crunchy and with the fragrance of dill- Perfect with a Ploughman's lunch, delicious indeed!
So Dear Readers, do you like pickles and what's growing in your garden right now?