Growing cucumbers for pickling
It was many years ago that I first tried to ferment cucumbers using directions from The Joy of Cooking cookbook. I ignorantly went away for two weeks with a five gallon bucket of cucumbers sitting in brine in the hot kitchen, then came home to a nasty, moldy mess.
With a little more understanding this year, I made cucumber pickles from the garden and they turned out great. Pickles take much less fermentation time than I had imagined.
So now I learned something about gardening for cucumber pickle making:
- I need to be good at picking the cukes when they are small. I had read that, but now I see what a difference it makes in the quality of pickle.
- More hot peppers grown in the year before I make pickles will allow me to flavor the pickles with dry peppers, which is very convenient. I ended up buying fresh peppers this year.
- Our cucumbers should be panted in mid to late June (this goes against my gardener's instinct!) to get to be them most productive this time of year. This time of year they would be going into the the basement 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in July or August. Cooler is better.
- If I should have a season without powdery mildew, I should be prepared to add a makeshift trellis in addition to the fence. Vines that are healthy for longer than two mnths are just going to need more space.
- Weeding vigilance makes it so much easier to find the cucumbers growing along the ground. Mulch very lightly when the seedlings are tiny, but weed until the vines cover the bed, then I can relax on the weeding.