Last 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.
It’s become the cousin IT of my garden.
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:
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.
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.