Almost every day at this time of year, I find a massive cucumber lurking reptile-like under the leaves, and I wonder how I managed to miss it day after day as I checked the plants. I am completely out-cucumbered at the moment: big and small, they’ve been piling up in the fridge. If you are experiencing cucumber overload or if you have a good local source of them, here are three variations on cucumber preserving, all of which I have tested recently.
Dill pickles (gherkins). Pick them small (if they don’t hide from you) and pickle them whole with vinegar and dill. Putting a grape leaf or oak leaf in the jar with them is supposed to help them stay crisp. The recipes say you should pickle them immediately after picking to preserve their crispness, but I have left them for over a week in the fridge and they are still good. One advantage of doing traditional dill pickles over many other pickle recipes is that some recipes, like this one, use no sugar.
Lacto-fermented cucumbers. Did you know you can preserve cucumbers using the same method as is used for sauerkraut? This method is appealing for a number of reasons: First, it is the simplest of the three pickling variations – it is so quick and easy! Second, it can easily be made as a 100% Tassivorous recipe, using only cucumbers and salt, which can be sourced locally (you can add spices if you want, but this is not essential). Third, this method of fermentation gives you probiotics. You can do it with whole small cucumbers (my preference because I like how they stay crisp) or bigger ones chopped up. Recipes say you should use filtered chlorine-free water. I have had highly successful lacto-fermentation with unfiltered Hobart tap water, but if you’re wary, you can always boil a pot full for half an hour to get rid of the chlorine.
Bread and butter pickles. An old-school recipe that I’ve used for my bigger cucumbers that managed to hide from me. You slice them thinly then pour a mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices over them. Sweeter than the other two methods, but they taste great. This recipe is a good one.