It’s December and We Finally Grew a Cucumber!

I probably shouldn’t jinx us, but this is too good not to share. Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I think we have a cucumber! So maybe it’s only about three inches long and it’s not ready to be picked, but it’s there nonetheless! And there’s about ten other tiny guys that appear to have been pollinated and on their way to full-on pickle status.

Now I understand what some of you might be thinking. What’s the big deal, right? You see, those of you who live in places that get a winter, you have far less pest issues than we do in sunny Florida. My honey’s family is in Michigan, amd they strike harvest gold nearly every year. Me? Not so much. Sure we can technically garden year-round, but there are soooo many issues to combat. And doing it organically is even harder. So this one cuke? It’s a huge deal. (disgruntled Floridian rant over…for now. ;))

We’ve spent the last eight months trying and failing, trying and failing, crying (well that’s just me), whining, begging and pleading with the melon worms and pickle worms to just leave us alone. And finally, we have a smidge of success. Isn’t he cute?

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This variety is called Homemade Pickles and the seeds come from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange or SESE. I’ve been longing to try them; will I finally get the chance?

The plants stay fairly compact, so they’re great for containers, too.

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Happy gardening, my friends, wherever you are!

-Jenna

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Pickled Organic Heirloom Tomatoes

My tomato season is nearing its end in sunny coastal Florida, and I’m finding myself with lots of little tomatoes that just won’t have a chance to ripen. I’m not sad, though, because this Jewish girl knows exactly what to do. Pickled tomatoes with garlic and dill was a staple in my grandparents’ refrigerator as well as in every kosher delicatessen from here to Timbuktu. For me, it’s the no-brainer way to preserve my beautiful heirlooms that had to be plucked before their time.

For this recipe, I used a combination of Thai Pink Egg, Healani, and Chadwick Cherry tomatoes, but you could use whatever variety or varieties you like.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic green tomatoes, washed and cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 5  garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill (use fresh if you have it on hand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black or multi-colored peppercorns

Method:

Make sure to have a spotlessly clean lid and jar. I love to use my mason jars for this, but any good jar will do.

Place the tomatoes in the jar leaving about 1/2 of room at the top.

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Put the garlic, dill, and peppercorns in the jar.

Make the brine. Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a non-reactive pot. Bring the contents to a boil and stir until all the salt is dissolved.

Carefully pour the hot brine over the tomatoes being sure to leave room at the top. Wipe the top, put on the lid on and tighten.

Some recipes say to wait just a day or two before the pickled goodies will be ready for eating, but I disagree. I think they need between two and three weeks to achieve pickled perfection. And, of course, I think they’ll taste better if you serve them from a little metal bowl with tongs. It’s the kosher deli way.

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Happy noshing, everyone,

Jenna

NOTE: This recipe was partially adapted from a Huffington Post article. I consulted with my pickle-loving family for the adjustments.