My cucumber vines are loving this weather we have been having. I seem to be picking at least 3-4 cucumbers a day off of just two vines. As the cucumbers began to stack up in my vegetable bowl, I decided it was time to do something with them.
Pickles and relish are two easy ways to preserve cucumbers for use throughout the year.
I have made pickles out of pickling cucumbers, as well as slicing cucumbers, which I tried this year.
It is recommended to use a pickling variety of cucumber, but I didn’t really know why until trying them both. The pickling cucumbers are firmer after they have been pickled, while the slicing ones are softer and a bit mushy. But the taste of both is the same, so you could use whatever you have on hand. When using slicing cucumbers I did pick them small though.
For both of these projects, I have found it easiest to buy mixes, although there are recipes out there if you want to do it from scratch. I’d rather have more time to spend on tomatoes though.
There are several varieties of mix out there for pickles. I went with the standard dill pickle mix. The relish mix is for sweet relish.
To make pickles, simply slice them about a 1/4 of an inch thick, then pack as many slices as you can into the jars. Then cook the mix as directed on the package and pour the brine into the jars until they are full. I have never had enough brine to do as many jars as the package says it will make. It’s usually about half as many so plan accordingly.
Then for the relish, chop up the cucumbers and put them in a food processor. Blend until they are course pieces, but don’t go so far as to liquify it. Then cook the mixture as directed and pour into the jars and process according to the directions.
Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener. Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at email@example.com and some will be featured in upcoming columns.