BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘cucumbers

Diva Cukes and Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

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Sweet Sun Golds are finally ripe.

 

 

Raw dinner of rice wine vinegar- and-sesame oil-marinated cukes and cherry tomatoes bathed in olive oil, garlic and basil and tossed over pasta.

 

Maybe I should only try to blog during the academic term, and then I wouldn’t leave my readers hanging come summer. Believe me, I so wanted to blog these past few weeks, and have the pictures and notebooks full of musings to prove it. But the Great Firewall of China wouldn’t let me. WordPress.com and Facebook are blocked; though news sites such as NPR and the New York Times (which was in 2000) now aren’t. How I now treasure the freedom to troll the Web at leisure.

 

My first eggplants.

 

 

My first peppers, too.

 

 

One delicate zucchini. When more come, I'll turn to these recipes.

 

It’s refreshing to come home to garden-fresh veggies after two weeks of slurping down greasy sauces and fatty pork belly. Thanks our dear accupunturess friend, our tomatoes, eggplant, beans, cukes, zucchini and herbs remained watered in our absence. So today, orange Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, Diva and slicing cucumbers, some small strawberries, basil, tarragon, some baby eggplant and gone-to-seed fennel welcomed us home. Sweet, raw goodness. For a light dinner, I marinated the cherry and yellow pear tomatoes in olive oil, garlic, basil, tarragon and salt and pepper. I shaved in a delicate zucchini and small green pepper (also from the garden) for good measure. Then we served this raw sauce over pasta. To ease the transition back from Asia, I quick-pickled the cukes with seasoned rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red onion, garlic and a tad of salty ume plum vinegar. Dan was tired of those flavors. But somehow they still had some lingering appeal for me.

Written by baltimoregon

August 30, 2010 at 12:28 am

Brined (Fermented) Dill Pickles: Day One

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Let the brining begin!

Let the brining begin!

What would a girl really need 20 lbs. of cucumbers for?

What would a girl really need 20 lbs. of cucumbers for?

I never thought I’d need 20 lbs. of cucumbers in one sitting. But when you’re brining your own batch, you look for economies of scale. I had a five-gallon food grade salsa bucket. And my recipe called for four pounds of pickling cukes per gallon of your container. So there.

Finding the bumpy, relatively seedless pickling cukes isn’t always easy. Luckily, I could custom-picked ones from Heavenly Harvest Farm just down the road. The farm’s owner and manager were in my master food preserver’s course.

Once you secure your cukes, preparing the bucket for brining is pretty easy. You slice all the blossom ends off the cucumbers, to remove an enzyme that softens them. You make a salt water (with a little vinegar) solution. You throw in heaps of flowering dill heads (or dried seeds), garlic cloves, dried hot red peppers, peppercorns, some pickling spice, whatever spices you like, really. You put a weighted plate in on top, to push down and ensure all the cukes are submerged in brine. Otherwise they could mold and rot. Then you allow the fermenting cukes to steep in a dark place with temperatures no greater than 75 degrees. I’ve got the bucket in our coat closet but will move it to the basement if it heats up again. And I’ll be checking the bucket almost daily, to skim any scum off the top and sample the cukes to taste their progress. After three to four weeks of brining, these girls should be fully fermented. Then I can either refrigerate them or hot water process them in jars to make them shelf stable. Oh, and to keep the cukes crisp, I rolled up a few fistfuls of grape leaves from the neighbors vine and horseradish leaves from the root I planted and stuffed them into the brine. Using chemicals like alum or lime to crisp the pickles kind of scares me.

Use grape and/or horseradish leaves to keep the cukes crisp.

Use grape and/or horseradish leaves to keep the cukes crisp.

Speaking of fermentation, I plan to attend Portland’s first-ever fermentation festival this Thursday. Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation and food preservation poster boy, will be speaking there. He is living with AIDS and eats lacto-fermented foods, in part, for their health benefits.

Written by baltimoregon

August 24, 2009 at 1:09 am

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