Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sour Pickles

I've got a peck of pickles in my cupboard. Every time I grab a cookbook I get a whiff of dill flowers! Before hot bath canning came along, there were sour pickles. Like sauerkraut, they are preserved using salt and lactobacilius. You make a brine (which means a mix of water and sea salt), put garlic, dill flowers, spices and cukes in a large jar, weigh the pickles down with a smaller jar, and cover them with the brine. Then you let it burble away in a dark place for a week or two. Everyday, I check on them and skim off the scum that forms on the surface (old style fermentation is not for the faint of heart, or the scum averse..). I got the ratios for brine and the instructions from the book Wild Fermentation. They are almost done, I'll be sure to report with a taste test.

What I wish I had to add to the mix is grape or horseradish leaves, which improve the crunchiness of the pickles. Horseradish is definitely on my 'to-grow' list. Check out this article on growing horseradish. I think this qualifies as gardener-foodie porn..

The garden grows, finally... it was a late start. But now there are cabbages for future kraut, and green tomatoes for future green tomato relish. MAYBE they'll become red tomatoes before the season is over, we'll see.

I've started some more greens, after a blessed season of arugula, chard, lettuces, and spinach. I planted mizuna and mache, and plan to put in some kale soon, for my fall cold frame experiments. I am going to a seminar on extending the growing season to learn more about using passive solar heat. I've got to figure out a way to harness the energy in our compost too. We bought a compost thermometer (keeping an eye on the temp can help you to speed up the process in certain ways), and last night at 8:00 pm it was 30 degrees C in the centre of the pile.