How to make pickles

From left- bread and butter, cornichons, and dill pickles

Following are the recipes I use for each of them:

BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES II (I modified this from
Makes 8 one quart jars or 16 pints-you can make smaller amounts if you want

25 cucumbers, scrubbed, cleaned, and sliced, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
6 onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic. sliced
1/2 cup salt

3 cups white vinegar
5 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon tumeric

1. In a large bowl, mix together cucumbers, onions, garlic and salt. Allow to sit 3 hours.
2. In a large saucepan mix together the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, whole cloves, and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
3. Drain liquid from cucumber mixture. Rinse and drain cucumbers. Stir the cucumbers mixture into the boiling vinegar mixture. Remove from heat just before it returns to a boil.
4. Transfer to sterile containers. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for one month before eating or process in water bath for 10 minutes or 15 minutes for our high altitude. (Add an additional 15 minutes for our 7000′ high altitude) I put some in the refrigerator and process the others. For water bath process, store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

Be sure to wait one month before eating, whether making refrigerator style or water bath process-the flavors permeate the cucumbers better. Once I couldn’t wait and opened a jar after 2 weeks but it was not as flavorful. It’s worth the wait.

REALLY QUICK DILL PICKLES (from ‘The Joy of Pickling’)
Makes 3 one quart jars or 6 pints-this is a no brine method

-For firmer pickles, add 2-3 grape leaves or 6-8 sour cherry leaves of each qt of pickles but it is not necessary.

You can double or triple this recipe to fit your harvest.

To make a single qt of pickles, you’ll need 1 cup water, 7/8 cup vinegar=3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, pinch of dried pepper flakes, 1 dill head. Pour boiling liquid mixture over packed cleaned cucumbers in jars. Leave 1/2 inch headroom in jar. Seal and process. See below.

4 lbs of cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
24 peppercorns
1 garlic head, peeled and sliced
dried pepper flakes to taste
fresh dill heads (or dill seeds if fresh dill not available)
2 3/4 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt (or non iodized salt)

1. Half or quarter cucumbers lengthwise. Divide the peppercorns,garlic, and hot peppers (if you are using them) among 6 pint or 3 quart mason jars. Pack the cucumbers in tightly into the jars.

2. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars with the 2 piece caps. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude).

3. Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 1 quart or 2 pints

10-14 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
3 sprigs dill
2 cloves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
cold water

1. Pack sterilized jars with cucumbers, dill, and garlic leaving 1/2 inch headspace
2. pour the lemon juice over the cucumbers
3. Seal and refrigerate. These will keep 6 weeks or more in refrigerator. Wait one -2 weeks for flavors to blend.

SHORT BRINED DILL PICKLES (from ‘The Joy of Pickling’)
Makes about 8 quarts

-This recipe is very flexible as long as you keep the proportions of vinegar, water salt and sugar. You can vary the seasonings as you like.
-For firmer pickles, add 2-3 grape leaves or 6-8 sour cherry leaves of each qt of pickles but it is not necessary.

You may prefer to make your pickles by the quart. For this, drop into each jar 2 sliced garlic cloves, 4 peppercorns, and pinch of hot pepper flakes. Pack the cucumbers into the jars with 2-3 heads of dill and pour over the cucumbers a hot solution of 1 cup each vinegar and water with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Leave 1/2 inch headroom at top of jar. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

12 lbs 3-5 inch cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end removed
1 1/2 cups pickling salt
2 gallons plus 2 quarts water
7 1/3 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
16 cloves garlic, sliced
32 peppercorns
16-24 heads of dill
dried hot pepper flakes (if desired)

1. Half or quarter cucumbers lengthwise or leave whole. In a very large bowl or soup pot or crock, dissolve 3/4 cup pickling salt in 2 gallons of water. Add the cucumbers and weight them with a heavy plate that just fit the container. Let stand in the brine at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
2. Drain the cucumbers. If you like less salty pickles, rinse well and drain them again.
3. In a non reactive pot, bring to a boil the remaining 3/4 cup pickling salt, the remaining 2 quarts water, the vinegar, and the sugar. While the mixture heats, divide the garlic and peppercorns amount the 8 quarts or 16 pint mason jars. Pack the cucumbers, dill, hot pepper (and grape or sour cherry leaves if you are using them).
4. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 headspace. Close and in a boiling process pint jars for 10 minutes, quart jars for 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes for out altitude at 7000 ft high) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

CORNICHONS (from ‘The Foodlovers Guide to Paris’) tiny tart pickles
Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints- you can make smaller portion by cutting the recipe in half.

60  two inch small pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt
1 quart water plus
3 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
12 small white pickling onions
4 large sprigs fresh tarragon
6 cloves garlic sliced
dried hot peppercorns
2 bay leaves

1. Trim off stem ends of cucumbers, rinse and drain.
2. In a large bowl combine the salt with one quart water. Stir until the salt is dissolved, add the cucumbers and let stand for 6 hours.
3. Drain the cucumbers, discarding the salted water. I like to rinse them.
4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Layer the jars with the drained cucumbers, onions, herbs and spices. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into the jars leaving 1/2 headspace. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening. You can also just refrigerate them but still wait one month before eating.

Different cucumbers for different pickles

Sunday afternoon, my good friend John came over and we made pickles. All different kinds. Last year I researched what kind of cucumber was good for different types of pickles.

'Boothsby Blonde' cucumbers- good for bread and butter pickles

We made bread and butter pickles with my Boothsby Blonde cucumber, a creamy white  flavorful cuke that turns bright yellow.  All stages are edible with no bitterness.  After making my own bread and butter pickles last year, I will never buy store bought again. The flavor is incredible and is at least 100x better than the store bought and I’m not kidding.

'Parade' cucumber makes a good dill pickle

Then we made some dill pickles from my Parade cucumber which is a great cuke for dill as they are also excellent flavor, firm and evenly sized which is great for cutting them into dill spears. We used some fresh dill I grew from my garden.

Lastly we made my favorite- cornichons. I first fell in love with them in a little french cafe in San Diego where the french owners served them with sandwiches. We made the cornichons (which means tiny tart pickle) with Parsian cucumbers.

'Parsian' cucumbers-use for Cornichon pickles

In the picture I show one that grew too large and the rest are good size. I cut the ones that are 4 inches in half and leave the 2 inch cukes whole. I even cut the big one down into smaller spears about 4 inches in length. The Parsian cucumber has small seeds and is never bitter. We try to pick them very early when they are 2-3 inches long as they are meant to be a small pickle but sometimes you’ll find a large one hiding under the leaves. If it is much larger than the one shown, then I compost it or feed it to the chickens. Your main herb for flavor is tarragon instead of dill with cornichons.

Cucumbers,Tomatoes and squash oh my!

looking from inside the garden out

Lava suggested I take some shots of the garden as it is right now-a jungle-not just closeups! I need to get in and trim and prune everything but it is fun to look at especially here in Santa Fe where everything tends to be dry. Lava also suggested I get on the roof of the barn to get a bird’s view and I just might do it! Meanwhile here are the jungle garden pics!

corn and winter squash

summer squash

entry into the tomato jungle

between rows of tomatoes


organic fungicides to use for Powdery Mildew

We’ve been getting so much rain lately that I am worried about Powdery Mildew (PM) and other fungal and bacterial diseases caused by too much rain. It is a blessed curse. The garden takes off  and really grows from all the rain but the conditions are right for PM so I am trying to take precautions by doing several things to be as preventative as possible.

First I’m cleaning out all dead or yellow leaves that are usually underneath the canopy of the squashes and beans and tomatoes. I use clippers to cut out the dead stems  or yellow leaves (like on the tomatoes) and I sterilize them between each plant so not to spread any diseases that the plant may have that I don’t know about yet. The idea is to clean up under the canopy of  leaves and provide more air space. I have a small container that I fill with 4 cups of water and I put in about 1/4 cup bleach and use this as a disinfectant for my clippers and gloves. I just dip my clippers and hand with my glove into the container and then move onto the next plant. You can use isopropyl alcohol instead but you could go through a lot of alcohol and the bleach works just as well. The next thing I do is spray weekly with Neem and baking soda or instead use copper fungicide which is stronger but still organic. I think the Neem and baking soda are more preventative and if you get some fungal diseases then the copper can kill it. Copper is organic but one still needs to follow the directions but you can spray it right up to the day of harvest. All of these need to be sprayed on both the top and underneath the leaves and have to be resprayed if it rains. The third thing I’m doing this year is using a biofungicide that is used as a drench. This is new to me but it is just certain soil organisms that help the plant ward off many fungal and bacterial diseases. I’m using it on my giant pumpkins and will let you know how they do. Another biofungicide is Mycostop which is also suppose to do the same thing. There may be others out there, just google biofungicides.

Garden Harvest from July 24

First harvest from July 24

Here’s a picture of the first garden harvest that I actually got on July 24! It was small but tasty! ‘Romanesco Costata’ summer squash, ‘Lungo Bianco di Sicily’ summer squash, ‘Yellow Custard’ scalloped summer squash, ‘Bennings Green Tint’ scallop summer squash, ‘Fairy’ eggplants, bush beans, cucumbers, ‘Shishitos’ and ‘Padron’ peppers are really kicking, and a few tomatoes. Now on August 2, almost everything is going bonkers except the tomatoes-I’m still waiting for the tomatoes to really show up soon in a major way!

baby pictures

Here are some pictures from the garden today. There were lots of flowers and baby veggies just starting. Won’t be long now before they really take off! I can kinda cruise for a little bet now. Just got to watch for disease and bugs and make sure things get watered and fertilized. Sounds like a lot but that is nothing compared to spring planting and fall harvest. With all this free time, I think I’ll go for a ride on my scooter tomorrow! ZOOM! ZOOM!

bush bean flower

baby bush bean

baby cucumber with flower

baby tomato

summer squash flower

vegetable garden pics 07-09-10

rattlesnake beans growing up arbor

cukes growing up cage

Fairy eggplants

shishito and padron peppers

summer squash adn bush beans

summer squash and cucumber seeds in

When I think of all the things I still need to do in the garden, I’m overwhelmed.  So I break all the things I need to do into bite size projects and surrender that it will get done when it gets done. Yesterday I was  down in the main garden preparing some holes and adding amendments with composted horse manure, fertilizer, rock phosphate and mycorrhizal in it. Today I planted the summer squash and cucumber seeds in them. Thirteen of my 35 tomatoes look pitiful. Luckily I have some more to replace them which I will do by the end of the weekend. They either froze or thrashed by the wind-tough winter and spring. Tomorrow I need to focus on a glassblowing workshop we are doing so looks like I wouldn’t get back to it till Saturday.