It’s Autumn here in New Zealand and I am harvesting my garden produce for storage. The last week has been mostly sunless and I am worried that my late veges may not ripen.
My tomatoes had to be grown outside after a very, very strong nor’wester tore my greenhouse off its frame and did irreparable damage. I manage to save most of my plants but many were too young to survive without cover. The ones planted outside are finally starting to ripen, although I might need to make a lot of green tomato preserves if we get an early frost.
My Cucumber/gherkins have been slow maturing, but when I get a half-dozen or so, I am bottling them. Instead of doing this lot whole, I decided to slice them and add peppers and onions and pickle them.
Homemade Cucumber Pickles
6 small pickling cucumbers or gherkins ( 500 gms)
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher or un-iodised salt
1 large pepper
1 cup white sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar – well packed
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds*
1/2 tsp celery seeds*
1/8 tsp turmeric powder*
3 clean sterilized hot jars and lids (I keep mine in a warm oven or hot water in the sink).
* Best place to buy these is Bin Inn.
Thinly slice the lengthwise (I did lengthwise) using a sharp knife or mandolin. Transfer into a largish bowl and layer with salt and mix by hand. Put a cover over the bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hrs.
Slice onion and pepper thinly, cover and put aside.
Rinse the cucumbers well, under running water and drain well. Tip onto a clean cloth or layers of paper towels and pat to dry. Add onion and pepper
Mix the sugars, vinegar’s, seeds and turmeric in a pot and bring to the boil.
Carefully spoon the vegetables into the boiling vinegar mix and bring back to the boil and cook for 2 mins.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the veges out of the vinegar into a bowl and leave vinegar’s to simmer.
Using tongs, carefully fill the jars with veges. I tried to get a good mix of each in each jar.
Carefully pour the hot vinegar mix into a jug and pour into the jars. Using a knife or spoon handle release any trapped air then fill jar until it is overflowing the top. Screw on the hot lid and tighten. Repeat for other jars. Wipe down jars and leave to cool.
This method does not need to go thru a canning process, because of the vinegar and the cooking I give the veges in the vinegar mix means they are boiling hot when put into the jars. They retain their crispness and crunch this way, but are safe to keep. I wash the jars when they have cooled and popped and label them and pop them in a cupboard and try to resist the temptation to open a jar too soon. These are best left a few month to mature – if you can, but they can be used immediately if you can not wait.
It is a simple process and easy to do in small amounts. The next batch I make might have some dwarf beans or runner beans in it too. I just use what veges I have on hand but make sure the cucumbers are the predominant ingredient. It’s a shame my yellow beetroot won’t be ready for a few months because I reckon it would be good cooked and sliced thinly and added to this as well.
I serve the pickle with cold meats, or in sandwiches with cheese. Yum, no Mari, you must not open a jar yet. Sigh.