From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Friday, August 28, 2015

How too much SUCCESS made me FAIL

In 2011 I made THE BEST EVER B&B refrigerator pickles.  Quarts and quarts.  Everyone clambored for them.  I made so many I didn't have room in the 'fridge so I froze them in bags.  


I've never been able to make a good pickles ever since.

I tried in 2012 - deer damage, no harvest.  No harvest in  2013. I tried in 2014.

While I used the same variety cuke and the same syrup recipe, they always came out bland bland bland.

Never say die - I made 3 quarts this August.  Same disappointing results.  


I studied the original post.  No help there.

Then I studied my vegetable page posts.


In 2011 I grew cukes in the veg bed back by the shed.  I noted how much of a pain it was to haul water from the shed trash tub water (no barrels yet).  From a few posts I gathered I only watered the cukes every 2-3 days.  Hmmmmm.

In 2012 the deer arrived - so no harvest to speak of.

In 2013 I tried growing cukes in containers: bush types.  Not enough to eat let alone pickle.

In 2014 (last year) I grew Sweet Success vines both up the privacy fence and the deck trellis.  Four huge vines.  Over 120# of cukes!!!   So I made pickles.   I made a ton - gave them to clamboring fans.  And I disappointed them all.  BLAND BLAND BLAND.  I was so embarrased.  Had to compost all those in the 'fridge.

2015.  This year - fewer cukes, Sweet Success on the privacy fence - but enough to try again.  Made up 3 quarts.  FAIL AGAIN.  I'll have to compost them too.  WTF???

Back to the veg page posts.  Hmmmm.  Then the freaking light bulb went off.

OMIGOSH!  It was ALL MY FAULT.  Cukes are good.  Recipe is good.  But having the cuke vines up by the house had allowed me to water them every day (hose and/or rainwater).  That's why they got so big and crisp and made the best salads e.v.e.r.

But for pickles?  They were too wet!  So, using a couple of my last cukes, I tried another jar.  This time I did not add any ice to the sliced cukes and used 2-3x of salt on them.  I let them sit for 4 hours and look - almost a cup of liquid from 2 big cukes.  Had to rinse the cukes several times to get all the salt off, then used the wilted cukes to make pickles.

And then ---


< ======

You can see that these late season cukes, while billed as 'seedless' did develop some seeds.

But the pickles ?

Wonderful.  It was like 2011 in a jar.

Now I know the secret of my success - and failure.  Lots of water = great salad cukes but bland pickles (too much water in the fruit, no syrup/spices can penetrate).  All I have to do is really wilt the cukes before pickling. (BTW, the pickles, using the wilted cukes, were just as crisp as anything using the pickle crisp.  I love that stuff.)

Boy, I can hardly wait for next year!!!  :-)
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  1. The same principal holds for most fruits. The peaches and apples I recently bought were not as flavorful as they should have been. Orchardists will not tell you though! Glad you figured it out.

    1. And this also explains my complaint of bland tomatoes that one year when I grew them right next to the driveway. Ah well, live and learn. This year, thank goodness, I've only been watering the pot tomatoes daily (they dry out so quickly) and the fence tomatoes every 5 days this August. The deep pine needle mulch is just terrific under them.

    2. P.S. I also found out why my 'seedless' cukes were so seedy this year. I planted another variety (Lemon Cuke) on the deck and the cross pollination forced the Sweet Success to develop seeds. Next year - only Sweet Success vines!!!