By June and the start of our Summer , our greens are growing, our fields are blooming and the offerings become more diverse as each week arrives. Tomatoes, various greens, onions, carrots, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet & hot peppers, sweet corn, summer and winter squash are just a handful of the vegetables that we grow. Fresh cut flowers are ready: peonies, sweet William, bachelor buttons, Canterbury bells, and sunflowers are just a few to name that we put into our bouquets to bring to the markets. Visit us on the farm or at the St. Paul’s Farmers market! We look forward to seeing you.
Lay out all of your ingredients and equipment ahead of time.
We take plastic or glass gallon jars with good fitting lids for this. Many restaurants are pretty nice about saving these gallon jars for you.
Wash one gallon or about 4 lbs. of small pickling cucumbers at a time, under 6 inches long is our rule of thumb. Sort them into big, medium and small groupings.
Rinse a bunch of fresh dill flowers and ‘leaves’ or two flowers per gallon.
Peel 2 large garlic cloves for each gallon you are pickling
2 large rinsed fresh grape leaves, wild or domestic (in a jar if you cannot find them fresh.) This provides the natural alum that keeps them crisp and crunchy. Now our secret is out!
½ cup bulk natural pickling spice mix from your local coop
1 whole red Thai or chili pepper per jar
Next, holding the jar on its side, stack the largest cucumbers first, standing upright, packing them in tightly. Lay on top of those the 2 garlic cloves and 2 grape leaves. Arrange the dill flower with some of the dill ‘leaves’ along one side of the jar and hold in place with the next layer of upright cucumbers. Fill in that layer with smaller cucumbers until it is firmly packed, but not so tight the cucumbers break. Drop in 1 small hot red pepper per jar. Finish filling the jar with little cucumbers until it is full to about 1 inch from the top rim.
In a large pot bring almost to a boil: 9 cups spring water (not treated city tap water, please) with 3 cups white vinegar and ½ cup of kosher or sea salt. Just be sure it does not contain iodine which discolors pickles. Measure 1 level Tablespoon of pickling spice per gallon jar. Let the brine cool to almost room temperature. When the brine is cool enough to put your finger in, stir well to be sure the salt is dissolved and pour up to within ½ inch of the jar lip. Screw lid on tightly and set the jar on a counter away from heat. Leave it out overnight and then refrigerate the jar in the morning. It should stay in the refrigerator from now on. The pickles will be done in about 5 days. Then enter them into your local state fair! They are winners!