Tag Archives: Pickled vegetables

Cucumbers – Easy to grow

Cucumbers, soup, salad and pickles. Cucumbers can do it all.

Cucumbers are mostly grown for eating fresh or preserved as pickles. They are high water usage plants that mature quickly and are best suited to larger gardens. However, they can be grown in small areas if the plants are caged or trellised.

Although cucumbers do best in loose sandy loam soil, they can be grown in any well drained soil. Cucumbers must be grown in full sunlight. Because their roots reach 36 to 48 inches deep, do not plant them where tree roots will rob them of water and nutrients.

Cucumbers are grown for slicing or for pickling. The cucumbers best suited for slicing are 6 to 8 inches long and 1 inch or more in diameter when mature.
Hint For a mild flavor harvest daily when they are still small and tender.
Cucumbers grown for pickling are 3 to 4 inches long and up to 1 inch in diameter at maturity. Either type can be used for pickling if picked when small.

Cucumbers require plenty of water and fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 for each 10 feet of row. Work the fertilizer into the soil and leave the surface smooth. When the vines are about 10 to 12 inches long, apply about 1/2 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row or 1 tablespoon per plant.

Many insecticides are available at garden centers for homeowner use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include Bt-based insecticides and sulfur. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and directions.

Harvest cucumbers when they reach the desired size and are green in color. Do not wait until they turn yellow. Yellow cucumbers are over mature and will have a strong flavor.

Hint Limited space? Think vertical grow your cucumbers on a trellis to save valuable garden space.

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Dill – Easy to grow

Dill is a perennial herb that typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. Its leaves are used fresh or dried as an herb in dips, soups, salads, and other dishes. The seeds are used as a spice for pickling and for adding flavor to stews and roasts.

Dill will grow well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Dill likes a soil temperature near 70°F.

Dill can also be easily grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a deep container to accommodate the tall plant and its long roots. Use normal potting compost and keep the plants well watered.

If the container is inside, place the plants where they will receive at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You may need to support the plants with a stake. Dill plants will be ready for harvest within about 8 to 12 weeks after the seeds were sown.
Dill contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins.

Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant).

In general, apply a formulation such as NPK 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound per 100 square feet. A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is available at most garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.

To save Dill seed and the flowers form, they will bloom and seed. Cut the seed heads 2 to 3 weeks after bloom. Place the cuttings in paper bags, and allow to dry. The seeds will fall off when they are ready to be used.

Dill is a member of the parsley family. While it is possible to buy and use dried dill, dill is one of those herbs that loses its flavor rapidly, so fresh is always your best choice.​

Dill is an herb that is particularly tasty with salmon. It can be paired with salmon in any number of ways.

Dill Sauce for (fish) Salmon. Stir half a cup of finely chopped dill into a cup of plain yogurt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and optionally a clove of minced garlic. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Dill flavored vinegar.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups 2-1/2 percent acid rice vinegar
* Optionally use 1 cup water with 1 cup 5 percent acid white vinegar.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
This will keep for a month or more.

Dill flavored oil.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups olive oil.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
Strain out dill weed. This will keep for 1 or even 2 weeks.

Hint Posted by wordsfromanneli | November 21, 2017
Dill freezes nicely. I put a clump of leaves and seeds into a ziploc and keep it on the door of my fridge freezer. I take it out when I need it and use the scissors (or a knife) to snip the amount I need. Then I wrap it up again and put the rest back in the freezer. Very handy and almost as good as fresh.

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Chow Chow Relish – Using Late Season Garden Vegetables

Grandma’s CHOW CHOW

1 peck (1/4 bushel) green tomatoes about {12 or 15 pounds}
5 lbs. strong flavored yellow onions
1 large head of cabbage course chopped
5 lbs. sugar
5 red hot chili peppers {you need at least 2 of these and more if you like your chow chow hot and spicy}
2+ cups chopped sweet green bell peppers
2+ cups chopped sweet red bell peppers
2 to 5 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon turmeric
3 or 4 tablespoons celery seed
Optional – 1 package of pickling spices
About 1 qt. of cider vinegar

Slice or dice tomatoes and sprinkle with 1 cup salt, place them in a clean old white pillowcase and hang them from a close line pole over night. {This will remove most of the green tomato juice from your bag of sliced green tomato’s} I’ll bet wrapping your sliced tomato’s in cheese cloth would work just as well.

Chop all vegetables and combine in a large kettle. Stir in salt, let stand covered at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours. Drain well.

Rinse and drain green tomato’s and other vegetables only once.
Using a meat grinder, {or course chop by hand} coarse grind tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers. In a large pot, add sugar, spices to mixture. Add enough vinegar to almost cover. Cook uncovered over a very low fire for 4 hours. Adding additional vinegar as necessary.

Fill hot sterilized 1 pint canning jars to 1/2 inch from the top and seal.
Makes 8 to 10 pints.
Note: Sterilize jars in a boiling water bath insuring jars are completely covered with water. Don’t forget to sterilize jar tops as well.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow jars to cool over night. Check to insure all jars sealed properly. Any jar that did not properly seal should be refrigerated and consumed with in a week or so.

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Sweet Potato’s are not Yams…

Sweet Potato Pie

More than you want to know about a potato! Origin and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America. In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago. The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum).

Although the softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called yam(s), which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae.

The plant does not tolerate frost. Abundant sunshine and warm nights are needed. Annual rainfalls of 30–39 inches are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 20 inches in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water logging, this may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.

Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in three to nine months. With care, early maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States.
Cured sweet potatoes will keep for a year or more when stored at 55–59 degrees at 90% relative humidity. Colder temperatures will injure the roots.

Sweet Potato, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 cup
(200.00 g)
GI: medium
BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Protein 4.02 g 8
Carbohydrates 41.42 g 18
Fat – total 0.30 g
Dietary Fiber 6.60 g 26
Calories 180.00 10
MICRONUTRIENTS
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Vitamins
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 0.21 mg 18
Vitamin B2 0.21 mg 16
Vitamin B3 2.97 mg 19
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents) 4.31 mg
Vitamin B6 0.57 mg 34
Biotin 8.60 mcg 29
Choline 26.20 mg 6
Folate 12.00 mcg 3
Folate (DFE) 12.00 mcg
Folate (food) 12.00 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 1.77 mg 35
Vitamin C 39.20 mg 52
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU) 38436.00 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) 1921.80 mcg (RAE) 214
Beta-Carotene 23018.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents 23061.00 mcg
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE) 1.42 mg (ATE) 9
Vitamin E International Units (IU) 2.12 IU
Vitamin E mg 1.42 mg
Vitamin K 4.60 mcg 5
Minerals
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Boron 215.78 mcg
Calcium 76.00 mg 8
Copper 0.32 mg 36
Iodine 6.00 mcg 4
Iron 1.38 mg 8
Magnesium 54.00 mg 14
Manganese 0.99 mg 50
Potassium 950.00 mg 27
Sodium 72.00 mg 5
Zinc 0.64 mg 6

Sweet Potato Pie
Filling:
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves

Dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar

Topping:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon whiskey, rye or bourbon
Candied Pecans, homemade or store bought

Directions and Special equipment: 9-inch pie plate, glass preferred

Filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a small roasting pan and bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dough: Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with the metal blade until combined. Add the shortening and pulse about 10 times. Add the butter and continue to pulse until it resembles cornmeal mixed with bean-size bits of butter. Beat the egg yolk and vinegar together, add and pulse 3 to 4 times, but don’t let the dough form a ball in the machine. Remove the blade, and gather the dough together by hand. If dough does not come together, sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon of ice cold water over the dough and bring together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and shape into disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (To make the dough by hand, see below.)

Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and mash lightly with a fork; you should have about 2 cups puree. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter in the food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Set aside.

Lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the dough into an 11 to 12-inch circle and transfer to the pie pan. Trim the dough so that the edges hang about 1/2 inch over the pan; fold edges under and flute as desired. (See how to). Pierce the crust all over with a fork, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to a day.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven of the 425 degree F oven. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the crust sets and begins to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Lift foil and weights out of crust, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and continue to bake until crust begins to brown on the bottom, about 10 to 12 minutes more. Pour filling into the warm crust and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on rack

When ready to serve, whip the cream with the whiskey until it holds soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream and candied pecans. Serve.

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Brussels sprouts – the little Cabbage that can

brussels-sproutsNamed after the city of Brussels, Brussels sprouts were first made popular in Belgium, where they’ve been grown since about 1200AD. Sprouts are buds that grow in the axils of each leaf. They look like tiny cabbages and are considered a type of wild cabbage. The plant itself looks like a small palm tree and the sprouts grow along the trunk like stem.

Brussels sprouts like a sweet or slightly alkaline soil. Soil pH should be at least 6.5. A good amount of organic matter and mulching will help maintain the moisture they need for their intense growth. In colder climates, start seeds indoors and set outside when there’s no threat of a hard frost. Be sure to allow the full time outdoors for required days to harvest.

In warmer climates, fall planting is preferred. You should be able to direct seed in mid-summer for a late fall/winter harvest. You may also be able to squeeze in a second, early spring crop, direct seeding in February and harvesting in May.

Direct seed in warm areas. Otherwise start seed indoors approximately 5-7 weeks before last expected frost. Cover seeds with 1/4 – 1/2 inch of soil and keep moist. Transplant when the seedlings are about 3″ tall. Don’t allow seedlings to become root bound or the plant will remain stunted when transplanted. Space plants about 2 ft. apart with 3 ft. between rows or stagger plants 2 ft. apart in each direction, for a grid.

Fertilize twice a season once when the plants are about 12 inches high and again about a month before harvest is often recommended, but if you have a fertile soil to begin with, it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Brussels Sprouts are prone to the same problems as cabbage and broccoli. The most common pests are Cabbage looper, cabbage worm, cabbage root maggot, aphids, and Harlequin bugs.

Each sprout rows in the leaf axil or joint. They begin maturing from the bottom of the plant upwards. You can start harvesting when the lower sprouts reach the size of large marbles. Just be sure to pick before they get too large and start cracking and turning bitter. Some people prefer to cut, rather than pull the sprouts. Pulling is easy if you remove the leave below the sprout first, then twist and pull the sprout.

A few of the Varieties available are:

* ‘Bubbles’ F1 (85-90 days) Early and easy. Tolerates heat and drought. 2 inch sprouts. Resistant to Powdery Mildew & Rust.

* ‘Jade Cross’ F1 and ‘Jade Cross E’ F1(90 days) Jade Cross was a 1959 All-America Selections Winner. Both are compact plants good for windy locations. Sprout are slightly larger on Jade Cross E. Good disease resistance.

* ‘Long Island Improved’ OP (90 days) High yield. Another small plant that stands up to wind. Freezes well.

* ‘Oliver’ F1 (85 days) Early producer. Easy to pick, 1″ sprouts. Compact, disease resistant plants.

* ‘Royal Marvel’ F1 (85 days) Early and productive. Resistant to bottom rot and tip burn.

* ‘Rubine’ (85 – 95 days) Red Plants. Late maturing and lower yield than green varieties, but good flavor. 1 1/2 inch sprouts. Heirloom.

roasted Brussels sprouts
pan fried-Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts in garlic butter

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10 Easy to grow garden crops

The Old Farmers Almanac Has a lot of Useful as well as fun information for farmers and Gardeners no matter how big or small your farm / garden or your age.

Mother Earth News What mother earth news about says the 10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners.

If you’re a beginner, consider starting with the 10 crops discussed below. All are easy to grow, and this combination offers lots of possibilities for cooking. Some of these crops are best grown by setting out started seedlings, but most are easy to grow from a packet of seed planted directly in your garden soil.

1. Radishes. Radishes do well even in not so great garden soil and are ready to harvest in only a few weeks(3-5). Plant the seeds anytime the air temperatures remain above freezing.

2. Salad greens (beet and turnip tops, lettuce, spinach, arugula and corn salad). Pick your favorite, or try a mix. Many companies sell mixed packets for summer and winter gardening. Plant the seeds in spring and fall, and you can pick salads almost year round.

3. Green beans. Easy to grow and prolific. If you get a big crop, they freeze well, and they’re also delicious when pickled with dill as dilly beans. Start with seeds after all danger of frost has passed.

4. Onions. Start with small plants, and if they do well, you can harvest bulb onions. If not, you can always eat the greens.

5. Strawberries. Perfectly ripe strawberries are unbelievably sweet, and the plants are surprisingly hardy. Buy bare root plants in early spring. Put this perennial in a sunny spot and keep it well watered and weed free.

6. Peppers. Both hot peppers and bell peppers are easy to grow. Start with plants and let peppers from the same plant ripen for different lengths of time to get a range of colors and flavors.

7. Bush zucchini. This squash won’t take up as much room in your garden as many other types, and it’s very prolific. Start from seeds or transplants. You won’t need more than a few plants for a bumper crop.

8. Tomatoes. There’s just no substitute for a perfectly ripe homegrown tomato, and it’s hard to go wrong when you start with strong plants. If you get a big crop, consider canning or freezing your excess tomato’s.

9. Basil. Many herbs are easy to grow, but basil is a good choice because it’s a nice complement to tomatoes or any tomato dish. Basil is easy to grow from seeds or from transplants.

10. Potatoes. An easy-to-grow staple that stores well when kept cool. A simple and low maintenance approach is to plant potatoes in straw rather than soil. ‘Seeds’ are whole or cut sections of potatoes, sold in early spring.

Lifehacker has a lot of good useful information for the novice gardener, even if some of it is a bit on the wacky side of gardening.

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Salads and Pickles

bamboo cucumber trellis

Cucumber Bamboo Trellis

Cucumber is a tender, warm season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Recommended Varieties

2017-02-03-18_40_03-ez-gardening-e-507_cucumbers-pdf
Long Green Slicing

Burpless (hybrid – 62 days to harvest; the original sweet, long, Chinese type hybrid; does well on a trellis).

Marketmore 76 (68 days; very uniform, dark green, straight fruit; multiple disease resistance).

Straight 8 (58 days; AAS winner a long time favorite; excellent flavor evenly dark green fruit).

cucumber wire trellis

Cucumber wire trellis

Long Green Slicing (compact plant)

Bush Crop (55 days to harvest; delicious; 6-8 inch fruit on dwarf, bushy plants)

Fanfare (hybrid – 63 days AAS winner; great taste; high yield; extended harvest; disease resistant).

Salad Bush (hybrid – 57 days; AAS winner; uniform 8 inch fruit on compact plants; tolerant to a wide variety of diseases

Pickling

Bush Pickle (48 days to harvest; compact plant; good for container growing)

Carolina (Hybrid – 49 days; straight, blocky fruits with white spines; medium-sized plant with good vigor; disease resistant)

When to Plant

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

row-planted-cucumbers Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Care

Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with NPK 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 balanced fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.

wood container cucumber trellis

Cucumber container grown on wood trellis

Harvesting

Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of my small cucumbers are badly misshapen. Will they develop into normal cucumbers?

A. No. They should be removed from the vines. Misshapen cucumbers may result from poor pollination or low fertility. Side-dressing with a complete fertilizer may help later cucumbers to develop normally.

Q. Why do some of my plants suddenly wilt and die? Dead or dying plants are scattered all over my cucumber patch. One plant in a hill may be healthy, while another dies.

A. These are typical symptoms of the bacterial wilt disease. This disease is spread by cucumber beetles early in the season. The beetles must be controlled immediately when the plants are small.

Q. Is there really a “burpless” cucumber?

A. Yes. Burpless cucumbers are no longer considered novelties and are offered in most garden catalogs. They are mild, sweet and crisp when fresh. The skin is tender and free of bitterness, although many people peel it off. Most varieties are long (10 to 12 inches) and curved, unless grown on a trellis. These varieties are better eaten fresh, using conventional varieties for most picklng uses.

Q. What cucumber variety should I buy for gherkins?

A. Buy the West Indian gherkin. It is a close relative of the garden cucumber used for pickling. The fruits are generally oval, 1 to 3 inches long and more spiny than cucumbers. They are also called “burr cucumbers” but are usually listed in catalogs as West Indian gherkin. They are grown in the same way as cucumbers. Small-fruited, prickly varieties of cucumber are sometimes sold as “gherkins.” If small, tender cucumbers are what you want to pickle and call “gherkins,” then these misnamed cucumber varieties serve the purpose well.

Q. Why do my cucumbers fail to set fruit and yield properly?

A. The first yellow flowers appearing on the plants are male flowers that provide pollen. These flowers normally drop off after blooming. The small cucumber is evident at the base of the female flower (even before it opens) and should develop into an edible fruit if properly pollinated. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit set and yield, including cold temperatures and rainy weather that hamper bee activity or improper use of insecticides that kill bees.

Q. What are gynoecious hybrids?

A. Gynoecious (“female-flowering”) hybrids are special hybrids of slicing and pickling cucumbers that are advertised in many garden catalogs. Because they have all female flowers, they may be earlier and higher yielding than other varieties. Usually, the seed company mixes in a small proportion of seed of a standard cucumber as a pollinator.

Q. How far away from melons should I plant my cucumbers? I am concerned about cross pollination.

A. Contrary to popular opinion, cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with muskmelons or watermelons and cause them to become bitter, tasteless or off-flavor. Because cucumbers and melons require considerable space in the garden, however, plant the rows far enough apart for proper vine growth without overlapping.

Q. What causes my cucumber plants to be stunted? The leaves are a mottled yellow, and the fruits are blotchy and taste bitter.

A. This condition is caused by the cucumber mosaic virus. Grow mosaic-resistant varieties.

Q. What causes the white mold growth on the upper surfaces of my cucumber leaves?

A. This condition is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is most severe during late summer and fall plantings. Grow resistant varieties.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

Calories 5
Protein trace
Dietary fiber 1 gram
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Calcium 7 mg
Vitamin A 70 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Iron trace

Preparation & Serving

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Home Preservation

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips

Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use “pure” or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill seed or 1 head of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate one to six weeks before eating. (Best flavor after 4 weeks).

Recipes

Cucumber Yogurt Salad Dressing

This is a delicious, heart healthy, low calorie salad dressing which can be used as a dip for steamed or raw vegetables or as a topping for baked potatoes or steamed carrots. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 pickling or slicing cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 10 whole cilanto leaves
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, julienne (about 1 inch long)

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes) do not boil. Set saucepan in cold water to cool the vinegar mixture. When cool, pour over cucumbers and garnish with red peppers. Serves four.

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Fermented Food. Your Body Will Love You

Not all fermented foods are pickled, and not all pickled foods are fermented. If you like the sour stuff, make sure you’re buying a product that also gives you the benefit of bacteria. How can you tell? Pickled items are usually “pickled” in vinegar, whereas fermented pickles would be made with just water and spices, which turn acidic during the preservation process.
Look specifically for the words, “fermented,” “cultured,” or “probiotics.”

Sourdough Bread Did you know sourdough gets its sour taste from fermentation?

Greek Yogurt Even for those who are lactose intolerant, eating fermented dairy-based foods like this Greek yogurt can be beneficial.

Apple Cider Vinegar Vinegar in general is a product of fermentation, but it’s only the unpasteurized stuff that brings you the benefits of good bacteria. These drinks made with apple cider vinegar will deliver all the goodness without having to actually take a shot of the bitter stuff.

Cheese can be good for you if you know which kind to buy. Raw cheese is your best bet for healthy bacteria because it hasn’t been pasteurized.

‘Skyr’ Yogurt This newcomer is less tangy than Greek yogurt but just as thick. Made with different bacteria cultures but with the same benefits, you might want to add eating some to your morning routine.

Kimchi This wouldn’t be a fermentation roundup without kimchi, a food that has been around in Korea since the 7th century.

Raw Kraut Not just for bratwursts, these different flavored sauerkrauts are the perfect addition to any salad, side, or sausage.

Soy Tempeh Made with fermented soy beans and brown rice, tempeh is a great meat alternative and a great source of good bacteria.

Miso Soup Did you know miso paste is made from fermented soybeans? The next time you’re out for sushi, don’t skip the soup.

Cultured Sour Relish This is what happens when a pickle and sweet relish have a baby. It’s crunchy, tangy, perfect on top of a hamburger, and has all the bacteria your belly needs to stay happy.

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Pickling Vegetables

USDA – Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables
Nearing the end of the gardening season you find that you have a great number of vegetables that need to be harvested and preserved for winters dinner table. Of course you may decide to freeze or can much of your garden surplus but pickling vegetables is also a good choice and so easy to do.

Everyone knows about pickled cucumbers, but what about pickled asparagus, broccoli, okra, peppers, radishes, or zucchini? Or maybe fermenting and canning a few jars of cabbage(sauerkraut). Almost all vegetables and many fruits can be pickled using the same basic recipe and procedure.

Hint Pickling salt is highly recommended and can be found in most supermarkets. However fermented and non-fermented pickles may be safely made using either iodized or non-iodized table salt. Be aware that the non-caking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use in canning or fermenting vegetables.

PICKLED ASPARAGUS
10 lbs asparagus
6 large garlic cloves
4-1/2 cups water
4-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
6 small hot peppers (optional)
1/2 cup canning salt
3 tsp dill seed
Wash asparagus well, but gently, under running water. Cut stems from the bottom to leave spears with tips that fit into the canning jar, leaving a little more than 1/2-inch headspace. Peel and wash garlic cloves. Place a garlic clove at the bottom of each jar, and tightly pack asparagus into hot jars with the blunt ends down. In an 8 quart saucepan, combine water, vinegar, hot peppers (optional), salt and dill seed. Bring to a boil. Place one hot pepper (if used) in each jar over asparagus spears. Pour boiling hot pickling brine over spears, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes.

PICKLED DILL BEANS
4 lbs fresh tender green or yellow beans (5 to 6 inches long)
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
8 pints
Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-inch lengths. In each hot sterile pint jar, place 1 to 2 dill heads and, if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Trim beans to ensure proper fit, if necessary.
Combine salt, vinegar, water, and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil. Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.

PICKLED BEETS
7 lbs of 2- to 2-1/2-inch diameter beets
4 cups vinegar (5%)
1-1/2 tsp canning or pickling salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
4 to 6 onions (2- to 2-1/2-inch diameter), if desired
8 pints
Trim off beet tops, leaving 1 inch of stem and roots to prevent bleeding of color.
Wash thoroughly. Sort for size. Cover similar sizes together with boiling water and cook until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Caution Drain and discard liquid.
Cool beets. Trim off roots and stems and slip off skins. Slice into 1/4-inch slices. Peel and thinly slice onions. Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, and fresh water. Put spices in cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil. Add beets and onions. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove spice bag. Fill hot jars with beets and onions, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add hot vinegar solution, allowing 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.
Variation:
For pickled whole baby beets, follow above directions but use beets that are 1-to
1-1/2 inches in diameter. Pack whole; do not slice. Onions may be omitted.

PICKLED CARROTS
2-3/4 lbs peeled carrots (about 3-1/2 lbs as purchased)
5-1/2 cups white vinegar (5%)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp canning salt
8 tsp mustard seed
4 tsp celery seed
4 pints jars
Wash and peel carrots. Cut into rounds that are approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar and canning salt in an 8-quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes. Add carrots and bring back to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and heat until half-cooked (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, place 2 teaspoons mustard seed and 1 teaspoon celery seed into each empty hot pint jar. Fill jars with hot carrots, leaving 1-inch headspace. Fill with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.

PICKLED CAULIFLOWER OR BRUSSELS SPROUTS
12 cups of 1- to 2-inch cauliflower flowerets or small Brussels sprouts
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
2 cups sugar
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced sweet red peppers
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp celery seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
9 half-pint jars
Wash cauliflower flowerets or Brussels sprouts (remove stems and blemished outer leaves) and boil in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon of water) for 3 minutes for cauliflower and 4 minutes for Brussels sprouts. Drain and cool. Combine vinegar, sugar, onion, diced red pepper, and spices in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
Distribute onion and diced pepper among jars. Fill hot jars with pieces and pickling solution, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.

Hints on spices Feel free to experiment. Add spices you like. Things like red pepper flakes, celery seed, dill seed and so on. Use as much or as little as you like to each jar before packing and pouring hot vinegar to fill your canning/pickling jar.

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Beets Miss Used, Under Used And Abused – New goodies

Pickled beets
Small whole beets, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute pack in jar(s), add 1 tsp mustard seed, 6 cloves, (optional 1/2 tsp sugar)cover with a mixture of 3 parts cider vinegar and 1 part water.
Store in refrigerator for 2 to 5 days before eating.
Hint Leave root and 1/4 inch of tops on beets to prevent beets ‘bleeding’ turning your vinegar/water mixture red.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian said: Beets are gaining popularity as a superfood.
Beet juice consumption is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, which can be an effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions.
Beets are also one of the few vegetables that contain a group of pigments known as betalains, which display potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

Its high fiber content (each cup of beets contains 4g of fiber), beets help to prevent constipation and promote healthy bowel movements.

Raw for shaved beet salad
Slicing the (raw) beets very thinly leaves them crisp without being too hard to chew. All you need is a vegetable peeler to shave the slices of beets to your desired thickness!
Beets and goat cheese is always a winning combination. Top with drizzles of balsamic vinegar and pinches of fresh herbs.

Roast for roasted beets
The roasting process helps to concentrate the sweetness, and the caramelization of beets’ natural sugar helps add a complexity of flavors.
Wrapped in foil while roasting so that they don’t dry out. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, peel and season with balsamic vinegar and orange zest to taste.

Blend for Beet Juice
Beet juice is actually delicious and rich in fiber. One cup of beet juice contains about 5g of fiber and half the amount of sugar as compared to one cup of fresh orange juice.
Beets pair well with almost any fruit or vegetable and add a vibrant color to juice drinks. The classic recipe consist of Apples, Beets and Carrots blended together.

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