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Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Posted by catharsix none (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 7, 11 at 0:49

(I couldn't find a forum for "Cucumbers" so I thought this might be the closest appropriate forum)

So I am growing some cucumbers in my garden (in Illinois) primarily for pickling purposes. I am worried that I won't have enough cucumbers at a good size at the same moment to pickle them, but I am worried that if I do pick them, and wait until I do have enough, they will get kind of wilted, and the lack of freshness will adversely affect the pickles.

Is there some way to preserve the cucumbers' freshness temporarily so that I can pick enough to pickle? (in a boiling water canner with Ball jars) I was thinking that perhaps mildly brining them, and keeping them in the fridge might do the trick, if only for a few days.

Any advice on how to work around this would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

You could make a brine, add the cucumbers and keep them in the fridge, adding more cukes as they ripen. Be sure to cut off the blossom end because it releases a chemical that makes pickles overly soft.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

If you are making vinegar-style pickles, it might be best to just make them in small batches. I have a smallish cucumber patch and just made a a few jars up when I had a pound or two of fruit.

One thing that helped me last year--I used a stock pot that held 4 or 5 pint jars (faster to heat up than a huge canning kettle). You can even refrigerate extra brine, so the next batch goes even quicker. I guess it's more work than making a bunch at once, but the cukes were fresher and I got to try out lots of different recipes to see what I liked the best.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

How much time are we talking about? In many past pickle discussions here most agree that there really isn't a good way to 'store' them that will keep them at a high quality for pickles.

The old saying that "picked and pickled the same day" has a great deal of truth to it if you want the best results. That is why most pickle makers will plant many plants so that they have enough ready all at the same time to make pickles.

Making a brine for storing them in the fridge will work for a few days but as you add cukes the brine quickly becomes diluted by the water that is in the cucumbers and leaches out into the brine. As it is diluted the pH rises and molds and fungus can begin to form. To overcome that issues you have to keep adding vinegar and soon you have an undesirable flavor.

So the best solution is to make them a jar at a time just as soon as you have enough cucumbers to fill that jar, even if that jar won't be as full as you might like, and process that jar.

Next year, plant more cucumbers. :)

Dave


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Exactly.............the earmark for a good pickle is freshness and crispness first. I knew I'd be making pickles this year and planted 36 plants closely and let them rip. I did Sumtner and Carolina Hybrids. They are bearing profusely and I'm just comfortable with the amounts needed to do a batch (translate eleven pounds of ingredients!) and that makes only eight pint jars. You can always tear out extra plants after that if they look like they'll take over the county, or leave them all in and give cukes away. Food kitchens around here love extra garden produce.

If you think about it, canning, smoking, curing was all about how to not waste a large harvest. People didn't do it initially just to have a 'homegrown' taste. Ergo most directions are designed to give you a canner full and that means a large quantity of produce. Unfortunately, it's difficult to buy small canning cukes at a market so you need to grow them yourself in sufficient quantities to make a batch or else do onsie-twosies.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

How many cucumbers should I plant or how long of a row to be able to do full batches at a time? I'm trying to prep are a spot for fall cucumbers. My spring cucumbers produced exactly zero cucumbers but a whole lot of pretty vines and male flowers.
I'm thinking. Need a different spot, more sun and a different variety of seeds. The heat on the side of my house was more than I realized.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

How many cucumbers should I plant or how long of a row to be able to do full batches at a time?

Well calliope planted 36 plants. I normally plant 10-12+ hills of 3 plants each so about the same. This year I only did 5 hills of 3 each because we don't need many pickles this year. That is giving us enough for 2-3 quarts at a time but not nearly enough for a full batch. We use Miss Pickler and Boston Pickling varieties.

Dave


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

As an alternative, I found a market garden that will pick to order in the morning. I can call in an order the day before, pick up my cukes the day they are picked and begin processing. They will even (for a small additional fee) size cukes and bag only gherkin size if that's what I want.

This works for me as it reserves our garden space for other plants we'll make better use of throughout the season.

A lot of farm stands and farmers' markets offer this picking service for all kinds of fruits and veggies and the cost is often very competitive with growing your own.

Carol


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

I have a good recipe for freezer pickles that I use. They are actually slices and you need a gallon size glass container but they are very good. Only uses 7 cups of cukes at a time so is more usable. Takes very little time to make but does take three days of sitting in the refrigerator before being ready to freeze or eat. So they are good, great for small cucumber patches or small families, not time consuming, and storable in your freezer. Might be an alternative to try.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

I have that problem early in the season as well. I pick them at the right size, brush off the flower/spines and rinse of any dust, then put them in a plastic, gallon tub with a sealable lid, about an inch of water, and into the fridge. They stay crisp for several days, until I have enough to pickle.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

tracydr writes: "My spring cucumbers produced exactly zero cucumbers but a whole lot of pretty vines and male flowers."

Tell me about it! I'm so sick of beautiful vines and male flowers that I could scream. There must be something that am doing wrong. Fertilizer NPK ratio, pH, temps... something.??

Parthenocarpic varieties the answer for some of us?

What few Ruby Wallace cukes I've picked are in the fridge submerged in a white vinegar, dissolved sugar and pickle crisp solution. Just an experiment. Sometimes my weird ideas turn out ok.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

I only make pickles on weekends but pick several cukes every day during the week. I found that keeping them submerged in cold water keeps them perfectly hydrated and fresh all week. I start with a bowl of ice water in the fridge and when it gets full by mid-week I transfer them to an ice chest. I add ice each day to keep them nice and cold. Works perfect. (cukes stored in the fridge NOT submerged in water will get soft very fast)


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Assuming you boil for 15-20 minutes and have a good seal how long will pickle store? A year or more?


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

I've been over in the container gardening forum for a little while but this is my first time here in Harvest. I have a couple of picklebush cucumber plants and burpless bush hybrids growing in containers. I pick 6-10 cukes a day which is enough to make a small batch of pickles every day or two. I got the Ball pickle mix in a can so I can easily do whatever size batch I have and not have to wait. Haven't gotten to taste any yet which is making me crazy but it seems to be working for me so far!


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

>What few Ruby Wallace cukes I've picked are in the fridge submerged in a white vinegar, dissolved sugar and pickle crisp solution. Just an experiment. Sometimes my weird ideas turn out ok.

Forget that for keeping them crisp :( ...they puckered up in a hurry.

Trying again & this time am not cutting off a little of both blossom & stem ends.

Don't want listeria so mixing 1/2 cup sugar & 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp with 1 pint 5% acid white vinegar. Microwave until everything dissolved and refrigerate. Add cukes as they get large enough.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Oops! Had thought that low pH would control listera. Guess not. Back to the drawing board....

Here is a link that might be useful: Listera


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

John, I do an okra pickle similar. I just keep a jar of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices in the fridge early in the summer when I'm only getting one or two pods a day. Put the pods in the jar and they are pickled in two weeks. Since I can eat a jar in a couple days, there's no risk of them going bad.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

  • Posted by batya Israel north 8-9-10 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 17, 11 at 15:01

tracydr just my problem!! My okra are just starting to bear and I'm getting 2-3 pods a day. What does one do with one okra pod, for heaven's sake? So would you, could you give the amounts to make your jar of brine? I'd like to do the same with green tomatoes that are falling every day from wind. Just keep a jar in the fridge, keep adding okra or toms until it's full and let it stay there for two weeks and eat them all up, or when it's full process it, or something like that.
Thanks from a lurker from other forums......


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

This is great advice folks. I have six plants and while they are doing well I am hard pressed to gather enough cukes big enough to do one pint per WEEK. So I picked some today and I figure in two days time I should be able to pick a few more to make a full pint. Meanwhile the others are waiting in the fridge in ice water.
Small potatoes I know but oh well. This is a test run, this year.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Well, now I read about listeria and wonder if my refrigerator okra pickles are safe? Should I be popping them in the freezer instead of fridge? I just use a brine from a safe, approved canning recipe for okra pickles but store in the fridge instead of processing.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

tracydr writes... "Well, now I read about listeria and wonder if my refrigerator okra pickles are safe?"

Me too! Picked enough small cukes to fill a quart jar yesterday & today and just want to refrigerator pickle them for a couple weeks or as long as possible. Ditto some jalapeno peppers.

I'm going to go with nuking 1 cup sugar, 1 cup white 5% vinegar, 1/4 tsp Pickle Crisp and 1/8 tsp canning salt for today and will change if experts here say is not safe.


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

John - no water? Then no problem. Straight vinegar is always safe.

Dave


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RE: Keeping Cucumers fresh for Pickling?

Dave writes... "John - no water? Then no problem. Straight vinegar is always safe."

Thanks, Dave!

No added water. I used to do similar some years back with both red-ripe and green jalapeno slices. It kinda candied them and the colors were fantastic when dehydrated. I didn't use Pickle Crisp then and am not sure how helpful it is even now.

John


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