Misadventures of the gardening foodie sort.

DSCN3204Last summer, my friend Cynthia introduced me to this adorable little relative of the cucumber family, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.  The flavor of these miniature watermelon-appearing fruits has a crisp, tart (think lemon) cucumber flavor.  I immediately thought they would make an excellent pickle.

DSCN3210Cynthia was kind enough to share two plants with me for my garden this year.  I planted them on either side of a tomato cage, not realizing exactly how much those plants would grow.

DSCN3137

It’s become the cousin IT of my garden.

DSCN3141As it has shot runners off, I’ve just wrapped them around the cage, with the result of a many-layered tangle of vines.

DSCN2400With the cutest, tiniest little blossoms.

I picked a decent amount of fruit the other day and set out to pickle it.  I did not let the fact that there was not a wealth of recipes out there to use detract me, nor the fact that all those recipes were quick pickles.   I teach pickling, I come up with my own pickle recipes, surely I can come up with something on my own, yes?  I wanted something that complimented the zestiness of the fruit – I ended up going with a white vinegar brine that was a 2 to 1 ratio of vinegar to sugar, with a pinch of salt.  I packed the jars full of fruit, throwing in a few slices of fresh ginger.  I poured the hot brine over this and then processed the jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

I like quick pickles, but I prefer pickles I can put up on my shelf, that don’t take up fridge space for months on end.  I only have one refrigerator and the top shelf of it is already jam packed with various open jars of jam & pickles – not to mention the space taken up by some of my fermenting projects.  If I am doing something in quantity, then it needs to be a pickle I can can, as I do have to share the fridge with the other people that live here for things like all those eggs the chickens lay, beer & milk. The essentials.

I’d read that these fruits don’t hold up well to the hot water bath process.  I thought that a 5 minute processing would be okay.  I also read that poking the fruits might help them not float.

They looked pretty good when I pulled them out of the canner.  I thought I’d let them sit a few days before popping one open to taste.

I went to grab a jar or two to take along to Saturday’s swap.  I was horrified to see my beautiful little fruit now looked like this:

DSCN3193

Definitely shriveled.  I was slightly horrified at the results.  Also, this was the jar that I filled with fruits I had poked – they were floating. Clearly I should have listened to what some of those people on the internets were saying about how these fruits did not a good pickle make.  I started doubting not just my technique, but the recipe itself.  You know how when you doubt yourself and those wheels starting spinning in a downward spiral?  That’s exactly where I was.   I finally cracked open a jar to see for myself if they were good or a waste of good fruit & vinegar.

DSCN3211 They were small, they were slightly discolored and they were shriveled.   I was prepared for the worst.  Instead,  I was pleasantly surprised to discover they still had a nice crunch and the ginger was an excellent compliment to the fruit’s flavor.  I was on the right road after all.

I realized I neglected to remove any traces of the blossom from the fruit – which is a rookie cucumber pickle move.  My next go-round will do that and probably include some sort of pickling lime to improve the appearance. I want to  figure out other spices to round out the ginger – unexpected herb combinations are not my strong point when it comes to improvising.  I may even try out these recipes I found in my hunt and use them as a launch pad.  Cousin IT is going gangbusters and from what I read, will continue to do so for some time.

DSCN3138Hopefully giving me plenty more opportunities to play around with pickling its fruit.

8 thoughts on “Misadventures of the gardening foodie sort.

  1. melissawest says:

    Wow, that thing IS a killer kind of vine. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gherkin before, plain OR pickled.

    • Becky says:

      I will indeed! It’s one of my summer goals, to figure out how to pickle these things. Just because no one else has had luck doing it doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

  2. suzicate says:

    Your pickling know-how amazes me! They are cute little ‘tiny watermelon pickles”! I’ve not seen the Mexican sour gherkin before. I learn all sorts of things from you.

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