On a fishing pier Saturday with my mom, watching the waves roll to shore beneath us, I said, “Pretend it’s a tsunami and you have to outrun it.” Right. The great-grandmother to my grandkids had already walked close to twenty miles with me during our week at the beach. Running was not going to happen.
Returning home I encountered the first wave of our garden tsunami. Cucumbers. And yellow squash. And zucchini. With blossoms on the patty pans, acorn squash, butternut, watermelon and pumpkins. My farmboy (oh, fahmboy!) husband loves to say, “As you wish” to his Princess Bride, but the profusion of squash plants in our garden is most definitely his wish. His 100 x 100 foot fenced garden is about half filled with squash plants, including seeds from a ginormous pumpkin that promised to produce more ginormous pumpkins.
When the blueberries ripened, I was pleased with the pacing of the harvest…just enough every day for us to eat. As the blueberries waned, the wild raspberries ripened. What a God treat to have the berries coming in delicate succession like that, like little waves lapping at our ankles.
Ah, but the squash. How to keep ahead of the tsunami of squash. To be precise, what we have is a tsunami of cucurbits, or gourds. Cucumbers and melons and summer squash and winter squash and pumpkins belong to the family of cucurbits. And here’s a little etymological tidbit to ponder while scooping the innards and adding fillings, dips, and soups: the word came into Middle English by way (of course!) of the Old French cucurbite which came from the Latin cucurbita, meaning gourd or cup.
So cucumbers are not squash. They are cucurbits.
We picked four pickle cukes the day before vacation and immediately made two jars of pickles. One jar was gobbled on vacation and the other when we got home. But we came home to eight cukes plus about four that my in-laws saved for us with our mail. (That does not include the ones they ate while we were gone.)
Monday I began running to beat the tsunami.
- 6 quarts of refrigerator pickles
- 1 large bowl of salsa
- 8 cucumber lime paletas
The paletas are cucumber lime ginger popsicles. They are amazingly good and just as amazingly simple to make. Daughter, grandboy and grandgirl joined me in sampling them. There is enough ginger to provide grown-ups with a pleasant gustatory zip, but not so much to turn away a three year old and his one year old teething sister. Follow the link above to the easy recipe at Bon Appetit.
The pickle recipe began with a refrigerator pickle recipe from Allrecipes.com, but after comparing a few recipes with ingredients I had on hand, I ended up with this. I share it here so that I will not lose it!
The measurements for the brine make enough to cover 4 cups of pickles. Adjust quantities according to the amount of cucumber you have.
- 4 cups pickles, sliced in rounds or in spears, whatever you like
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
Bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil. Let cool completely. (Pouring hot brine on the cucumbers will soften them a bit. We want crisp cucumbers!)
Fill quart size mason jars with cucumbers. To each jar add:
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- sprinkle of dried dill weed or sprigs of fresh dill (for effect!)
Pour cooled brine into each jar to cover cucumbers. Put lids on. Store in fridge 3 days before eating. Pickles keep 6 weeks in the fridge…if you don’t eat them first.
So, I have used up all the cucumbers… for the moment. Now to outrun the zucchini…