Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Summer of Pickles

For the longest time, if you asked me about foods I didn't like, the answer would be pretty much the same:  pickles and mustard.  I ordered burgers ketchup-only for probably 35 years.

Then I discovered spicy mustard.  The problem with mustard wasn't mustard itself, but with the plain yellow mustard that you find everywhere.  Give me a Dijon, a brown, a whole-grain, something laced with generous amounts of horseradish--no, the problem wasn't really with mustard.

The jury's still out on pickles, but I'm running out of freezer space, and the garden's still going.  The tomatoes haven't even really started ripening.

Ignore tomato #2.  Most of the tomatoes are still entirely green.

To use up some of the extra zucchini, I went with Ball's "End of Garden Pickles" recipe (I've got Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving to work with, besides Betty Crocker & Joy of Cooking).  It called for three cups of sliced zucchini, and three cups of green beans, and I didn't grow beans this year, so I was thinking - great, I'll use up these two big zucchini!

No, I used up one big zucchini.  So I've got three zucchini on my counter still, but five pints of mixed pickled vegetables - zucchini, carrots, onions, peppers.

Five pints of pickles

These are the zesty variation of Ball's "Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles," peeled since I didn't plant pickling cucumbers this year.  Next year I may plant pickling ones again just so that they're easier to process when we're tired of eating them.

5 pints of relish
 As you can see from the film on the jars, I forgot to add some vinegar to the canner when I processed the cucumber relish (from Ball's Blue Book).  This was not the pickle relish I was intending to make - I was just going to do the sweet pickle relish on the next page.  When I went to get started, this one was similar enough that I didn't notice the difference until I got to the "let stand 12 to 18 hours."  I've been skipping brined recipes for the most part since I want to do single-day projects.

Six pints of red sauerkraut there on the left if anyone wants some
I've got plenty of jam left - pineapple, jalapeno, cranberry, kiwi, apple butter - so I'm probably good there for a while.

This wasn't even the whole cabbage
These were still in the canner when I started this post -  six pints of sweet pickled cabbage.  I don't like sauerkraut, and my husband's had to cut back on his salt.

Once the tomatoes start ripening, I can process those either just straight up or as sauce.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the cucumbers and zucchini yet, but I've got a lot of recipes I can try.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Annual innudation of cucumbers

Initially, it was all about the peas.  Three quarts of unshelled peas, that shelled down to about two cups.  The peas are about done now.  The zucchini are pretty steady, never overwhelming; I've just got the three plants.

The peppers are a bit random, and the tomatoes, while trickling in at the grape size, aren't ready yet.

But the cucumbers.


This summer has been frequently unusually cool, but give them a week at 80+ degrees, and...

Tiny snail gave me an excuse to toss this one in the compost.  It was probably fine, but I picked seven others that day, and tiny snail.  (You may have to zoom in to see it.)

So I went out to check the cucumbers again this morning, and this is what I came back in with.

I've got what will be three quarts of pickle relish brining on the stove now, but I also have a baker's dozen more cucumbers on the counter still.  I may have to make some other kind of pickles in addition.

Why plant so many cucumbers, you might ask.  I have one row, six plants, partly trellised.  I thought backing it off (I've planted three times that many before) would be enough.  Nope.  I like cucumbers, but unlike zucchini, which is easy enough to turn into lasagna or zucchini bread or some chop up into stir fry and keep up with it, the cucumbers produce in volume enough to make it difficult to keep on top of.

So there will probably be more pickles.

At least it's not cherry tomatoes again!  (Yet.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

(Updated Garden Pictures)

Since I realized all my garden pictures were a month or more old, here's some updated ones:

I think one of these is not actually a Brussels Sprout

Looking across the whole garden

Gigantic zucchinis


This is the first year it's made raspberries

Compared to the blackberry bush

Picked today, 7/23 (zucchini, cucumbers, peas, first tomato, 5 Hungarian peppers)

This is the prettiest cucumber I've ever grown

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Garden, Round... 7?

So this is apparently Year Seven in the garden, although we haven't been in the house seven years yet, since we moved in during the winter.  I didn't expand it this year, but I did buy some garden soil to mix into the extant dirt to try to improve the nutrients in it.

The setup this year has brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli) and cucumbers on the right side of the walk; I put the fencing in for trellis shortly after I turned it over to get them out of the way, and I'm using hay for mulch again since that seems to distract the rabbits.

On the left, following my brassica/nightshade rotation, I've got tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and peas.  (A rogue potato from last year came up, as well.

I put onions and carrots around the whole edge, although the onions are doing much better than the carrots.  Some carrots did come up, so at some point I'll hopefully get at least enough for one meal.

As usual, the peas took off first.  This is from four weeks ago, and I've picked about six quarts of pea pods since then.  They've grown about two feet taller than the  fence and are now cascading down the other side.  (If I remember (unlikely), I'll get another shot at this angle, because the zucchini plants cover the whole space in front of the peas now.)

Gratuitous shot of the overflowing blackberry bush from a few weeks ago - they're just starting to turn mauve now:

I've picked five zucchini, two cucumbers, the aforementioned 6 quarts of peas, and I pulled up four onions for dinner tonight.

Since my goal for the garden this year was to be able to make sides for dinner in-season, I think it's going pretty well.

The tomatoes are still green, but the grape tomatoes are just starting to turn.  In another couple weeks, I'll probably be inundated with them.