Thursday, August 10, 2006

What's Growin' On 8/10/06: A Bounty of Beautiful Basil & a Plea for Pickle Recipes

Basil Gone Wild

Realization Of The Day:
I think I'm just going to let this giant volunteer patch of basil go to seed. I have plenty more in the garden (including some very young volunteer plants that popped up where the pole beans were supposed to). And besides. . .

It's not as if it isn't being used. (I'll give up my basil to pollinators any day. They literally mean the world to us. As for Bear--well, he usually treads pretty lightly. Plus he's really cute.) Many thanks to all of you who took the time to let me know your thoughts and experiences regarding using blooming basil in the kitchen.

Minding The Moonsigns:
Don't forget that Friday the 11th, Saturday the 12th, and Tuesday the 15th are all fertile days in the third quarter--the perfect time to put seedlings into the ground or move potted plants into roomier quarters. (Click here if you're wondering what this is about.)

I was feeling optimistic (plus I was tired of having old packets of seeds hiding everywhere) so I did go ahead and start some seeds last Tuesday (fertile second quarter day). Four entire full beds of them! I have to admit, though, that I don't have real high hopes for fall crops. (What fool plants 70-day pole beans less than two months before the first expected frost? Oh, wait, that would be me.) But I do have notes on what went where in case something decides to show up and survive.

Okay, I don't exactly have notes, but, like I usually do, I piled the seed packets on top of one another in the order I planted them in each bed. But then I went one step further--I held the ordered packets together with clothespins. Now as long as I remember which bundles of seeds went in which raised beds, and where the seeds on the top packet went, I'll be fine. I know. I'm supposed to be recording all my planting information here. That was the whole reason for starting this garden blog. And I will. Maybe tomorrow. Today I had more pressing (and more interesting) things to write about first. Which leads me to. . .

Out Of My Inbox: In A Pickle!
I thought my pal Katherine, who lives on Apifera Farm ("where animals, art, and lavender collide") knew how to do everything. I mean, she rides a horse, tends the 4700 lavender plants she and her husband planted, has a wonderful way with words on her farm blog, is an acclaimed artist, quietly created a rapidly growing peace movement with her animals, and can even bake a mean blackberry pie.

But it turns out she has absolutely no idea how to make a pickle. Here is an excerpt from the (dare I say desperate?) email I received from her:

"I can't find any basic pickling recipes in my Joy of Cooking or basic cookbooks. Perhaps they think any farm wife should already know how to do this...

I want to pickle my little cucs... and my finger beets - do you have any archive recipes?

Don't you love the word pickle?"

I do not have any pickle recipes in my blog archives, and I know nothing about pickling beets (and yes, now that she mentioned it, I do love the work 'pickle.' I even had a cat once named Pickles who had a brother named Onions.) The first summer I was at Windridge Farm I put up something like 37 quart jars of garlic dill pickles. I don't recall putting up any since then (is it any wonder?), but I offered to hunt down my old recipe for her. I also mentioned that if she only has a few cucumbers, refrigerator pickles might be the way to go. (Personally I like how they stay crisper because the cucumbers don't cook during the canning process, and I refuse to add alum--which is basically aluminum--to the jars to help them stay crisp. Plus refrigerator pickles are easier to make.)

I then offered to ask you all for help, and she was thrilled.

"I would love to see recipes! I think I want to try the long version/jar version - but I'd be curious about the fridge ones too for the ease of it..."

So how about it? Does anyone have a favorite pickle recipe they would like to share? And remember--she wants to pickle her little beets, too. I'm sure we can come to her rescue. And then I'll be able to go back to assuming she knows how to do everything, and the world will feel right again.

Thanks in advance for your help. And who knows? You might even convince me to start making pickles again. (Has anyone ever pickled lemon cucumbers? I think I'm going to have quite a few very soon.)


  1. YES! Help me! I am the only person in the whole world who doesn't know how to make a pickle! I asked someone yesterday, and they said..."Well, you probablycan't find a recipe becasue EVERYONE knows how to pickle." I was deeply shamed.
    Katherine from Apifera who knows so much less than Farmgirl about sheep and donkeys

  2. I make my own pickled beets every year and use this recipe from an old Kerr canning book. I could never go back to store bought. By the way...I can these in small jars. If you don't have a lot of beets you could always use jelly jars.
    First (not from book) - Cut greens off (they can be eaten but I don't care for the taste), leave roots and wash thoroughly. Bring a large kettle of water to boil and add beets. Cook for 10-15 mins. and then plunge beets into sink with cold water (I add ice). This helps the skins come off much easier. Now from the book...

    Remove skins, top and roots.

    2 cups sugar
    2 cups water
    2 cups apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon cloves
    1 teaspoon allspice
    1 tablespoon cinnamon

    Pack beets into jars to with in 1/2 inch of top. Pour boiling syrup over beets to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Process 30 minutes in boiling water bath.

    The book doesn't say how many beets, and honestly I've never weighed or counted. =) If I need more "juice" I just make up another batch.


  3. The Ball Blue Book has a great pickled beet recipe as well.

    If she has a lot of cukes to pickle, brining them is a good way to do it. That gives you a couple weeks of fermenting time before you have to do the canning.

  4. A delicious bread and butter pickle refrigerator recipe-
    about 8 picklers
    Slice and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of salt let rest for an hour.
    1 cup of vinegar
    1 cup of sugar
    1 tbsp celery seed
    1 cup of red onion rings.
    Pour over cukes and let marinate at least an hour. Stir occasionaly.

    Love your blog by the way.

  5. I have 3 little boys under 4 and they love, love pickles! We just slice the cukes lengthwise and put them in a jar in the fridge with leftover pickle juice from a store bought batch. After 2-3 days they taste like pickles and are really really crunchy! Although not an ideal pickle "recipe" and probably wouldnt last as well as canning them, it makes some darned good pickles and my boys love helping make them.

  6. I make them like Aunt Della did:

    1 cup mayo
    1/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
    1 large cucumber, sliced
    salt and pepper

    Mix all together in a covered container and keep in the frig. And, yes, I realize this is a recipe for refrigerator pickles.

    Vintagechica - what a great idea! I never thought of doing that.

  7. I've been following the Kosher Dill pickle recipe in the Ball Blue book. For the first couple of batches I followed the recipe exactly, the last couple I have been adding a lot of extra dill and garlic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed as this is my first year making pickles (I did pickled peppers last year, which turned out well).

  8. Hi,

    I just found your blog this morning and I'm so glad that I did. You have some wonderful writings and recipes here. You also have some great garden photos. You should consider joining us for a virtual Garden Party and Tour that Thicket Dweller is hosting over at her blog. Check it out at:

    I look forward to coming back here and reading some more.


  9. I'm planning to try the recipe for refrigerator pickles that Steven posted in his comments on his July 12 post (at They look pretty darn good.

  10. The most wonderful resource for pickling recipes and advice is on the canning thread. Really helpul and kind ladies, who share recipes, food safety tips, and encouragement. Look especially for "Linda Lou's Sweet pickle recipe", it's terrific.

  11. Pickels! Pickles! Pickels! Thank you everyone who wrote their I can be a real farm girl and help other naive farm girls make pickles for the first time. I appreciate everyone's help, and farmgirl for sending out the word.

  12. When I make pickled beets, instead of using water, I use the juice that I cooked the beets in (straining it through a cloth).

  13. The old New York Times Cookbook (1961) has several pickle recipes. This cookbook can always be relied upon.

    I found a recipe in At Grandmother's Table , edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley. It is the old-fashioned kind where you will need a canning kettle.

    Break out the cutglass pickle dish and the pickle fork!

    The web also has some "easier" pickles that also look delicious.


  14. Hi! This is my first comment here. Love your blog!

    I recently posted this recipe for Easy Cucumber Pickles (refrigerated) on my blog:

    2 medium cucumbers
    1/2 cup cider vinegar
    1/4 cup water
    3 tablespoons sugar (I use less)
    2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (opt.)

    Cut cucumbers in half crosswise; cut each half lengthwise into eight spears. In small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, dill, salt, and red pepper, if desired. Bring to boil. Place cucumber spears in large screw-top jar. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Cover and chill for at least 2 hrs.

  15. I was wondering if you had pickled any of your lemon cucumbers. I have an organic farm in Northeastern Washington and have a lot of lemon cucmbers that don't sell every week at the farmers market. I try to donate as much as I can to the local food bank, but even they cannot seem to move as many lemon cucumbers. I would geatly appreciate any infomation on this veriety of cucmber.
    Thank You,
    Andrea Hedrick

  16. I suggest looking at "Putting Food By" by Rodale Press for excellent pickle recipies. Signe


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

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