Homemade pickles special

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Carolyn Bivins
Extension agent

April showers bring May flowers and in June an abundance of cucumbers. Cucumbers are ripe for picking, now. When selecting cucumbers for salad use, they should be smooth, firm, fresh looking, well shaped and of good color. Some varieties are solid green when mature enough for slicing, but usually the tip is whitish with some white lines extending along the seams. For pickling purposes, the bumpy or prickly cucumbers from two to three inches long are generally used. But the ones that are most desirable for pickling are those of only one or two day’s growth.
Fresh cucumbers have very high water content (95%) and they are low in calories (15 kcal per 100g) and most other nutrients. However, they are a fair source of iron, potassium, Vitamin A and vitamin C. Most of the vitamin A is in the rind. Hence, peeled cucumbers contain only traces of this vitamin. Cucumbers blend well with tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers and radishes in salads, especially toss salads. They are also served great as pickles.
Recently, former 4-H’er Kristin Larrimore surprised me with a pop-in visit to my office at the Escambia County Agent’s Office in Brewton. She came by to purchase a copy of the Alabama Food Preservation Book and to bring me up-to-date about her life since 4-H. She is now a 2011 graduate of Auburn University and will soon start a new job as an information technology consultant with a firm in Atlanta, Ga. Just think, from 4-Her to an industrial engineer. Wow, I’m really impressed. I knew she would do well.
Kristen loves to prepare fresh vegetable dishes from the family garden when she’s home visiting. She invited me to sample her latest family project using cucumbers from the garden. They were delicious! Kristen was surprised at how quickly the recipe went together. The Food Preservation book has many pickle recipes as well as the latest research based information on preserving foods. Pick up a copy in Brewton at the Escambia County Agent’s office (Hwy. 31 South) or in Atmore at Central Farm Supply. Here’s Kristen’s recipe for pickling cucumbers.
Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Prep time is 15 minutes and the pickles will be ready in 10 days, two hours and 15 minutes.
12 (3 to 4 inch) pickling cucumbers
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. pickling spice
1 1/2 tsp. dill seed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 springs fresh dill weed
In a large bowl, combine cumbers, water vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed and red pepper flakes. Stir and let stand at room temperature for two hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove the cucumbers into eight half-pint wide mouth jars.
Ladle in the liquid from the bowl to cover. Place a sprig of fresh dill into each jar and seal with lids. Refrigerate for 10 days before eating. Use within one month.
Nutritional information: 70 calories per serving; 0.3 g. total fat; 0 mg. cholesterol.