Wonder Pickle

"On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar." Thomas Jefferson

'5,200,000 pounds of pickles are consumed annually in the United States. That's nine pounds per person per year.' NYFoodMuseum.org

'Pickles are to New Yorkers what Apple Pie is to Americans - an archetypal food that reflects our unique history.'

At the First Restoring Our Seed conference, Rob Johnston suggested to grow out the seed of Conquest, his favorite pickle with delectible flavor, but it is no longer commercially available. Rob generously contributed seed from his collection at Johnny's. Mark Henning from Cornell offered to cross the flavorful Conquest with the disease-resistant open-pollinatoed lines, Clinton and Wautoma. We offer to you this complex cross of superior cucmber lines to continue selecting for your own cucumber of rare flavor and health. Delicious raw or pickled.

 Each seed contains it's own unique combination of:

Conquest - Characteristics: predominantly gynoecious pickler, vigorous, semi determinate plant, white spined, medium dark green skin color, L/D 3.0, 52 day maturity, hand harvest. Resistance: scab, angular leaf spot, downy mildew, powdery mildew, anthracnose race 2, cucumber mosaic virus. Adaptation: United States, Mexico, Canada. 1990.

Clinton - Open-Pollinated) 55 days. Have your pickling plans ever been spoiled by the onslaught of powdery or downy mildew? Let the natural disease tolerance of Clinton ward off the problems while you plan the pickle party. The 5-6 inch long fruit have few seeds, are cylindrical, dark green, and have excellent firmness and brining quality. A North Carolina State University release. The vines reach 4-5 feet. MO. DM, PM, CMV, A, ALS, S

Wautoma - (Open-Pollinated) 60 days. An early, very productive pickling cucumber, Wautoma is a consistent standout in our trials. Developed by the USDA, it produces huge crops of wonderful 4-5 inch picklers, often of better quality than the hybrids. Four to five foot plants resist nearly all cucumber diseases! Delightfully bitter-free and burpless, Wautoma has been tested for brining quality to ensure pickling success. MO. A, ALS, CMV, DM, PM, S.

Selective Seed Saving Instructions for Cucumbers

Insect pollinated. Isolate by at least a mile to prevent cross pollination. Plant about three feet apart. Taste-test the first cucumber that each plant produces. Rogue out the less flavorful and the 50% that are less robust. Keep in only the best plants. Remove the cucumbers or flowers from the remaining plants that may have cross-pollinated with the less desirable plants. Allow only the cucumbers to remain on the vines of the best plants. Do not harvest the best cucumber, but let tthe cucumbers grow as mature as possible, into swollen, yellowish brown fruits, until the vines die back or it frosts. Harvest and allow the mature cucumbers to in a dry, cool place for about 5 weeks for after-ripening. This helps mature the seed. Cut the fruits in half. Scoop out the seeds and add some water. Allow to lightly ferment for 2-3 days in a warm place, stir daily. The gel on the seeds will ferment off, and the heavier healthy seed will sink to the bottom. Pour off floating pulp and flat seeds. Strain out the heavier seed from the bottom. Remove these seed immediately and rinse with fresh water. Dry seed on a screen.

Cucumber Lore

Cucumis sativus: Native to Asia, cucumbers were cultivated in India as long as 3000 years ago between the Bay of Bengal and the towering Himalayas. It has never been found wild anywhere, but species closely related to it are found wild in India. The cucumber was carried westward from India long before written history as is indicated by the profusion of ancient names for it in: Aryan, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Armenian, and others. Cucumbers are mentioned at least twice in the Torah (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8). The Israelites in the wilderness complained to Moses that they missed the 'cucumbers and melons of Egypt'. Some sages considered this to be the delicious Snake Cucumber (Cucumis melo) still little know to Americans, but a popular food in Jerusalem today. Isaiah, speaking of the desolation of Judah says: 'The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.'

My Great Grandmother Rogosa, from Rujahn, Poland, kept a large pickle barrel in her pantry, as did many of America's pioneering generation and sailors aboard ship to prevent scurvy. Under frontier conditions, Eastern European winters, or long days at sea, pickles were the only green, succulent food available. Traditional Jewish kosher pickles use no vinegar, no sugar and no packaged spices.

My Aunt Esther's Pickle Recipe

'Cut the ends a little bit. You hev to hev dill, garlic and if you can, hev cherry leaves. (black currant or grape leaves are good too) If you can hev, it's very good for people. In the winter it's without cherry leaves. Put the dill, the garlic, and the leaves in the water. Salt - as much as you want in the water. Cold water, not warm but cold water. Put the pickles in a jar, or whatever you hev, even in a dish. Cover with something to keep the pickles under the water of course. In three, four days it's very good.'

Deli Kosher Pickles

~30 small, young, cucumbers, scrubbed, 3 crumbled bay leaves, 6 cloves of garlic, 6 bruised whole peppercorns, 2 tablespoons dried dill, 1 tablespoon dill seed, 6 tablespoons kosher salt, 9 cups boiling water

Place the cucumbers in a large bowl or crock.
Mix in the bay leaves, garlic, whole black peppercorns, and dill.
Sprinkle all over with the salt.
Pour the boiling water on top of the cucumbers.
Remove any scum as it appears.
Put a plate on the top, weigh it down with a brick or similar weighted object. (This is to keep the cucumbers in the brine.) Cover with a

What is a Pickle?

1: a solution or bath for preserving or cleaning: as a: a brine or vinegar solution in which foods are preserved, 2: a difficult situation: PLIGHT <"could see no way out of the pickle I was in" R. L. Stevenson> 3: an article of food that has been preserved in brine or in vinegar; specifically: a cucumber that has been so preserved 4: British: a mischievous or troublesome person Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Of the thousand of types of pickles that converge in New York, all fall into one of these categories:

: The oldest method of pickling, when a naturally occurring bacteria transforms the sugars present in the ingredient into an acid, preserving the food. These are called "processed" pickles, and though they take as many as five weeks to cure, they last up to 2 years. They have a very sharp flavor, and their texture is somewhat softer than other types. Fermentation is the controlled decomposition of food. In the case of fermented pickles, salt controls the pickle's texture, limits unwanted micro-organisms, and ensures ingredients don't ferment too quickly. Dry-salted pickles extract water from the vegetable itself to produce the brine; brined pickles are covered with salt dissolved in water.

2. FRESH PACK/QUICK PROCESS PICKLES: Fresh Pack includes pasteurization, and it's one of the most common methods for commercial jarred pickles. Fresh fruit or vegetables are first bottled, and then heated to at least 160º F, which kills any bacteria. Their shelf-life is about 18 months.

3. REFRIGERATED PICKLES: The most common home-pickling process, it requires a combination of refrigeration, vinegar, or alcohol to kill bacteria that could spoil the pickles. This process, also known as acidification, has the shortest shelf-life. The acid changes the texture of the pickle, and, overtime, can turn it mushy. Also called fresh pickles, they retain their bright coloration, and are particularly crisp, crunchy, and fresh tasting.

Types of Cucumber Pickles: Pickle Packers International, a trade association for the pickled vegetable industry since 1893, identifies types of commercial cucumber pickles below. In addition to these basics, they note a few trends - Americans are eating more pickles than ever, and they're gobbling up new and innovative varieties, from long, thin, flat cuts for stacking on sandwiches, to fiery Cajun-flavor ones for snacking.

Dill Pickles: This is the most popular variety of pickles, universally revered and enjoyed across the country. There are a few distinctions within this category:
Genuine Dills are "processed", and dill weed is added to the tanks during the last stage of fermentation. Their flavor is more concentrated and sour than other dill pickles.
Kosher Dills are made the same way, but generous doses of garlic are added to the brine at the end. Just because they're called "kosher dills" doesn't mean they are produced according to Kosher law - you have to check the label to see if Rabbinical supervision certified that particular brand Kosher. Though inextricably linked to a Kosher tradition in New York, "kosher dill" now refers to a flavor profile.
Overnight Dills are fresh cucumbers that sit in a brine in the refrigerator for a few days. Bright green and crunchy, they taste fresher and less acidic.
SOUR/HALFSOUR: These pickles are refrigerated throughout the entire process fresh pickles are placed in a non-vinegar brine; the longer they stay in that brine, the more sour they become. They are crispy and green.

Sweet Pickles: On the other side of the flavor spectrum, sweet pickles are made with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices in the brine. Variations include:
Bread and Butter: Circle-cut cucumbers, onions, and chopped peppers cure in a sweet, tangy brine.

Candied: Pickles cured in a syrupy sweet brine.

Gherkins: Miniature dill or sweet pickles.

For more information about pickles, contact:
Pickle Packers International, Inc.
P.O. Box 606
One Pickle and Pepper Plaza
St. Charles, Illinois 60174 USA www.nyfoodmuseum.org/_pkwhat.htm

Zeidrich, Linda: The Joy of Pickling "200 Flavor-Packed Recipes for All Kinds of Produce from Garden or Market"
Harvard Common Press, 1999.