lucillleMarch 21, 2014

I've planted cucumbers and want to make pickles. It would seem more time and cost effective to make a batch at a time but of course cucumbers don't ripen all at the same time.
How long can one store cucumbers in the refrigerator and have them stay fresh and crisp while waiting for a few more cukes to mature?

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In my experience, they don't stay fresh for pickling. They should be used within a few hours, which is why a lot of people buy large amounts from the farmers' market, then take them home to process immediately.

In my case, I plant scads of pickling cucumbers. The first to ripen get fermented. When the rest all come ripe in large numbers, I can them.

This can be a bit wasteful, since I end up with more than I want. I feed the excess to my chickens.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:44PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with Deborah and all the past discussions here about this question will agree too. The old adage of "picked and pickled within hours" holds true.

The only way to insure enough cukes ready for making a full batch at a time is to plant several plants. Depending on the variety 6-8 plants minimum but more is better. I plant 6 hills of 2-3 plants each in a pickle making year.

The next best way is to make a deal with someone at the local Farmer's Market for a bulk purchase the morning of picking. Grocery store cukes just don't make good pickles - even with Pickle crisp added - as they are already days old.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:51PM
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emmers_m(9a/Sunset 7 N Cal)

So is it the lesser of two evils to have fresher, larger cucumbers for pickling (left on the vine a bit too long until pickling time) or older, smaller cucumbers (picked at the appropriate size but stored until pickling time)?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:27AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Depends on your goal and the type of pickles you want to make.. For the best crisp pickles neither works. Large left on the vine until past prime are soft, go mushy, and have lots of seeds. Good for making ground up relishes but not for most pickles.

I suppose if I had to pick one of your options - for purposes of discussion - then I'd pick the older, smaller stored ones but I would store them in an ice chest full of heavily iced water and for no more than a couple of days.

But keep in mind that cukes aren't normally a summer-long crop so it isn't like you have to devote that garden space to cuke plants all summer. They are normally a good candidate for sequential planting with other crops. So you plant many plants in the spring, harvest lots of cukes for your batch of pickles, then rip out several of the plants and plant your later summer crops in that space.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:08PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

One of the ways I've dealt with this issue is to make a big batch of brine and store it in the fridge.
Then I can pick just a pint or two of cukes, bring some brine to a boil while prepping the cukes and packing into jars with dill, garlic, peppercorns, and pickle crisp if desired. Pour hot brine over them, seal and process.

I still plant at least 6 plants to do this. I also buy a bunch of dill and lop the heads off while fresh and toss in the freezer. These work fine for pickles if I'm not growing my own dill that I can pick at the same time as the cukes.
We also eat a few fresh cukes throughout the season.

It's far more efficient to buy a big bag and do them all at once however!


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Deanna, that's a good idea.
Actually for me it might be good to start out with a few pints at a time since I've not done it?

I planted about 10 plants, but the cutworms are trying to cheat me out of them. We will see. Maybe I'm just counting pickles before they are hatched. Or something :).

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:01PM
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Last year was my first experience with canning, and I didn't have a ton of any one type of vegetable in my garden (there are only two of us). Every few days I'd spend a bunch of time pickling or processing a lot of different things that have the same or similar processing times - pickles with the new cukes, relish with any older cukes, pickled jalapenos, etc. In this way I could load up the pot and process several different products at the same time, and the vegetables were at peak freshness when I did it.

This year I'm planning on a lot more cucumber and okra plants - we LOVE pickled everything - so batches of those will be bigger, but I will use the same multi-tasking strategy for days with smaller yields.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 3:05PM
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