I’m really glad we have a good amount of farms in the Newburyport area, because my two gardens have not produced much this year. I planted peas twice; not much came up. My spinach never got more than 2 inches tall, and my radishes, lots of green, but woody, and small radishes.
I know it was a weird spring and start of summer, but my biggest disappointment was my meager showing of pickling cucumbers. I think I have an addiction problem because I eat probably six to seven of them a day, not including pickles with my sandwich for lunch and then cukes on my salad at dinner.
I’m lucky that my job takes me all over the area in the course of the day so I can pop into Tendercrop Farm in Newbury or Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury for my fill of the crunchy green gourd, botanically speaking. I love half-sour pickles and have bought some over the years at the local supermarkets, Ba-Tampte or Nathan’s brand. I like them when they have the bright, clean shade of green and before they turn an olive color.
So instead of waiting for them to come in fresh, I’ve decided to make my own. They’re real easy, and I usually have two batches going to assure I don’t run out.
Someone once mentioned that these aren’t really pickles, just cucumbers that have been threatened. These aren’t meant to be processed by hot water bath and jarred, they’re meant to be eaten fresh and will last two or three weeks in the fridge. Make sure you use pure salt, sold as pickling salt. Some sea salts may be alright, if there are no additives, such as iodine, which can discolor the pickles.
5-6 large pickling cucumbers, cut in half or thirds
4 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt
2 allspice berries
5 or 6 peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
Couple of sprigs fresh dill
2 bay leaves, in pieces
5 cloves garlic, smashed
Dissolve the salt into the water. Lightly crush the allspice, peppercorns, coriander and mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle, and add to the brine. Add the other flavoring ingredients and stir in. Add the cucumbers and refrigerate. Stir about two or three times. They will be ready to eat in two to three days.
Sweet Refrigerator Pickles
Again, these are not meant to be canned, just eaten within two weeks.
4-5 large pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon salt, pickling or not
2 teaspoons each celery seed and mustard seed
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
Dissolve the sugar into the vinegar and set aside. Tossed the sliced cucumbers and onion with the salt, celery seed and mustard seed, and mix well. Let rest a half-hour and mix again. In another half-hour, add the vinegar and sugar. Mix well and refrigerate. They can be eaten after two or three days.
I got this recipe from Newburyport south end native Marcia Roaf Frost. I made two over the weekend to take to a party in Amesbury, and in one of them, I stirred in some chopped jalapeno peppers. You could even top with some Jack or cheddar cheese at the end of the cooking time.
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sour cream
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup of corn kernels, hopefully from a local farm
1 cup cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well, and pour into a buttered 9-inch-by-12-inch baking dish. Cook for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Bryan Eaton, the photo editor at The Daily News of Newburyport, the Times’ sister paper, is a sometimes chef and gardener.