After 6 years of farming I have concluded that farming is all about excesses and failures. Lucky for us, that these excesses lead to year round abundance. I started a lot of traditional varieties of sauce tomatoes like Amish Paste and San Marzano but it was a bit too early and they did not make it out of the greenhouse this season. This is totally fine with me because a few years ago I started canning this heirloom variety of tomato called Garden Peach that falls in between a large tomato and a cherry tomato in size. The thick skin peels off easily after being blanched and I’ve enjoyed them for 2 winters now in soups, chillies, stews and braises.
I’ve got a confession to make right now… I hate pickles. There, I said it. They are disgusting. You know what else I don’t like? Watermelon and Peanut Butter. Now that I’ve said all that I’ll give you my pickle recipe.
I know my pickle recipe is good because I think they are gross. And while the herbs and spices I use is ever changing it’s the brine that stays the same. I learned the proportions for this brine from Tam Adams, my old boss at her beautiful ranch in Willits, California.
Tam’s Pickle Brine (approximately 12 quart jars)
4 quarts water
2 quarts apple cider vinegar
2 cups kosher salt
In a large pot, add all the ingredients for the brine and set aside. You don’t want to start heating the brine until the jars are packed.
If you have about 10 to 15 lbs. of cucumbers that should be plenty for this recipe. Optional ingredients to put in the jars with your cucumbers include:
Coriander, fresh or dried seed
Grape Leaf (the tannins in the leaves help keep your pickles crisp)
Procedure for Pickling:
Pack sliced cucumbers and seasonings into the jars. Pack them pretty tight but also you want to leave enough space for the brine to enclose the pickles in the jar.
When you have all the jars packed heat up the water in your canning pot (for the water bath) and your brine. When both are boiling you can begin the process. Carefully pour brine into the jars on top of the cucumbers until about 1/4 inch from the top. Screw lid on top. When you have filled the amount of jars that fit in your canner place them carefully in the canner. The water inside should be covering the jars by 2 inches. Let jars sit in boiling water for 20 minutes. When there are about 2 minutes left on the timer, you can start filling your next batch of jars with hot brine. Remove the finished jars and place the new ones inside.
Let the jars sit on your counter undisturbed for at least 12 hours and up to 24. Check to see that all of the lids have correctly sealed.
Your pickles will be ready to eat after about 1 month but are better if you wait at least 2 months. You’re going to be everyone’s favorite person at all the BBQs next summer with your homemade pickles!
This week I will be working on many different ways to can tomatoes including whole peeled tomatoes, salsa, roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce so stay tuned for lots of tomato preserving recipes to come. And jams! We can’t forget about jams. I’ll be trying a tomato jam this year as well. As peaches start flooding the farmers markets, I’ll be making sliced peaches and peach jam and syrup just about as fast as I can.