Pickle class a success!

pickle class

Duskin with picklesPickle making class went well today. We processed 15 lbs of cucumbers into about 15 pint jars. Pictured above are some of the finished pickles. Duskin, who co-taught the class with me brought his giant pressure cooker. We didn’t use it as a pressure cooker this time but instead filled the big pot with water to sterilize the jars and to use for processing the pickles using the water bath method. I brought my camp stove to make the brine and syrup. It was a beautiful day for making pickles outside instead of over a hot stove. After a short talk on the how to process food safely, everybody got involved—Duskin sterilized the jars, while the students cut up the cucumbers and garlic, mixed up the brine and syrup, added all the ingredients and cucumbers into the hot sterilized jars as they came out of the pot, poured the brine and syrup, wiped the lips of the jars and put the lids/caps on them. Then we put them back into the hot water and brought the water back to boiling and adjusted the processing time for our high altitude. While we were waiting for them to finish processing, Duskin showed them around Milagro Community Garden. When the pickles were done, we pulled them out of the hot water and let them cool enough and then the students took home a jar of each type of pickle. Good job folks!

Here is the one handout that wasn’t available today that I told the students would be available tonight:

Preparing and Canning Fermented and Pickled Foods

Here are the handouts that were given out in class:

General Canning Information

Duskin’s Favorite Pickle Recipes

Lastly, here is the Lemon Dill Refrigerator Pickle recipe that Randy asked for:

Fresh-Packed Refrigerator Lemon Dill Pickles

Food Preservation Class TODAY-canning pickles


Do you have too many cucumbers? Do you want to learn how to make pickles? It is much easier than you think! Today from 12 noon – 3 pm I will be teaching a preservation class on pickling for Home Grown New Mexico.

pickle_cornichonThose who show up will learn how to make two types of pickles-bread and butter pickles and dill pickles. We will review canning safety at high altitudes and then make the pickles using the water bath method. This is a hands-on class.

Pickle Making Class- 12 noon-3pm

Milagro Community Garden – located in parking lot behind:

2481 Legacy Ct, Santa Fe, NM

My Garden Kicks Ass!

I think this is my best garden ever even though I don’t have a lot of produce yet-but it’s all coming! It’s gotten so lush with just a couple of days of rain. I don’t mean to brag but I must-it’s really hard to grow a garden like this in the high desert. I fight the pests and have problems too just like you but diligence and hard work has really help. Hope you enjoy these photos.

This is the same angle from the corner of the garden I’ve photographed  since the beginning of this year.  Wow what a difference 2.5 months makes.

55 tomatoes planted May 15th!

Here is the same corner in  the beginning of the season back on May 15, 2011

Here the view is looking towards the entry from inside. Zucchini, flowers, scarlet runner beans, rattlesnake beans tomatoes, corn, asparagus, sunflowers, rhubarb all stuffed in the entry!

These Emerite pole beans are hiding the teepee now.

Corn, asparagus, flowers, rhubarb and sunflower coming along.

Baby cucumbers- these are Boothsby Blonde variety. They will make great bread and butter pickles.

Caleb, my apprentice, gave me a gourd seed that someone had given him but he didn’t know what type it was, so I call it-Caleb’s mystery gourd. Notice the purslane in the left corner. I’m going to try some this year so I left it in..

Flower bed to the right of the entry-zinnias, cosmos nasturtiums, pole beans and sunflowers. I can only imagine this when they all bloom.

My one lone cosmos flower yet but what a beauty-Magenta cosmos flower

Here is Caleb’s baby mystery gourd-wonder what kind it’ll be. Kind of looks like a pear right now.

The tomatoes have really shot up-about 5 feet tall now. Now the Long Gourd tower in the background doesn’t look as tall.

Best tasting zucchini ever-Costata Romanesco

Pepperoncinis’ with eggplants behind them

The Long Gourd is stretching towards the top of that 10′ trellis tower I built! Never thought I’d see that!

Scarlet Runner bean flower-beautiful!

Here’s  one of Caleb’s bees doing it’s thing with the pumpkin flower.

Finally the Shishito peppers are kicking in.

View from the inside looking out towards the gate. The Rattlesnake pole beans are producing and growing over the arbor now. Way in the background inside the corral is the pumpkin patch.

Finally a baby ‘Greenie’ pumpkin-about 5 inches in circumference right now-small but I’ll take it!

Put my cell phone on top of the giant pumpkin today to give it some perspective. It put on 11.5 lbs yesterday— went from 56.5 lbs to 70 lbs.  Hope the squirrel doesn’t get it. Been hiding all the pumpkins under row cover and burlap to discourage the squirrel.

Today’s small harvest-slow but steady!

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 Allrecipes.com)
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.