Note to self:
No matter how much you love pumpkins, do not let a volunteer pumpkin grow next to your cucumber bed.
Well, after wading through the pumpkin vines, I did find some cucumber plants, and even a few veggies ready to pick. But I also realized that something needed to be done. I carefully pruned away most of the pumpkin vines (realizing halfway through that the bulk of them were not actually pumpkin vines, but a volunteer patty pan squash or two. This was a relief, since I don't particularly care for pattypan squash, and felt much better about ripping those out than my precious pumpkins! There were a few ripe squash of harvestable size, so I saved those and shredded them later for making into zucchini chocolate chip cookies.)
A half hour later, I had removed most of the intruding vines (except one pumpkin plant I just couldn't bring myself to pull - it had four big Cinderella-style pumpkins already growing on it, and since I didn't have any other plants with that shape of pumpkin on them, I gave in and let them stay - did I mention I'm a sap when it comes to pumpkins?) The cucumber plants were long and straggly, so instead of trying to train them up the tomato cages, as I'd originally intended, I laid them down on top of some old cardboard boxes - hopefully this will make it easier to find the ripe cukes, and keep them from rotting in the wet grass.
With the eight or so pickling-sized cukes I found under that jungle of vines, I decided to make our family's favorite dill pickles (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions - I changed up the spices a bit, so they taste more like what my family's used to; similar to the Vlasic dill pickles we used to buy).
Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles
for each pint, place:
one head of dill
one clove of garlic
enough cucumbers to fill jar
1 Tablespoon of salt (sea salt works fine)
Cover with water (you can add some whey for a little kick-start), leaving an inch of headspace (this will bubble up as it ferments). Place a lid on the jar and leave at room temperature for 3 days, "burping" the jar regularly to release pressure. After three days, move the jars to a refrigerator or cool cellar for long-term storage.
I love this recipe because not only are they good for you, but you don't have to can them! I appreciate any excuse not to have to heat up the house in July and August. It's also nice that you can just make a jar now and again as you have cukes - you don't have worry about making a full canner load.
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.