So, the crisper drawer in the refrigerator was getting full of cucumbers from the garden that NEEDED to be used. We had had plenty of raw, unadorned cucumbers in salads, as sides, and simply on their own. I really thought I needed to break down and make some pickles.
One hesitation I had was that I was not sure if the cucumbers that we were growing would make good pickles. One was an Asian variety that I had my doubts about. The other cucumber’s plant marker had been lost in the mulch, so I was unsure as to exactly what it was. I was sure, however, that it was not a “pickling” cucumber. But, I will say it looked a bit like a Kirby, so undeterred yesterday, I decided to make some pickles.
I looked through my favorite Gourmet cookbook and although I found some good recipes, they were all refrigerator pickles and one recipe said they even needed to be eaten in four hours. Putting aside Gourmet, I went to the antique books and pulled down Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, published in 1959.
As I read through the “Pickle and Relish” section, I found an interesting recipe, “Delicious Dills.” I realized that I could make a batch with everything from our garden and flowerbeds. The recipe called for grape leaves, heads of dill, horseradish, and, obviously, cucumbers. The only thing that would not be local would be the mustard seeds.
I grabbed a picking pail, scissors, and a spade and went to the garden. I clipped some perfect looking grape leaves, snipped some dill heads and stems, and dug part of a horseradish root. This was a totally satisfying trip to the garden.
I just got done making four pints.
Here is the recipe that I am reprinting exactly as it reads from Country Cookbook.
No friends like the old, tried-and-true.
Green grape leaves
Cucumbers, 4-5″ long
8 heads and stems of dill
2 tsp. ground horse-radish
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 large onion slices (or 2 cloves garlic)
5 c. water
1/2 c. vinegar
1/3 c. salt
- Line bottom of 2 qt. (or 4 pt.) jars with grape leaves. Halve cucumbers lengthwise, then use to fill jars. To each jar, add half of dill, horse-radish, mustard seed and onion slices.
- Boil water, vinegar and salt together. Pour hot over cucumbers in jars; seal at once. Do not open for at least 2 weeks so flavor has a chance to develop. Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints.
I used garlic instead of onions and I quartered my cucumbers instead of halving them. I think I will store them in the refrigerator just to be safe. I don’t know if we can wait two weeks!