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Pickle cucumbers

Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:47 am
by Dixana
Once again a very naive question......but there are cucumbers that stay small to make pickles don't they? Whole cucumber pickles not the sliced ones.
What is a good one to try? I want pickles next year :D

Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:22 pm
by garden5
County fair is another one.

I kind of cheat when I make pickles, in fact, you really can't call them pickles, I guess.

What I do is when I get a jar of pickles, I keep the jar and the juices after I eat all the pickles. Then, when I get some cukes, I just slice them up, stick them in the pickle juice, and keep them in the fridge until I need them.


Hey, they taste like pickles, so it works for me.

Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:16 pm
by kgall
Personally I think that's genius Garden5!

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:28 am
by BP
Great topic here for me. A friend at work like myself had her first garden this year. I did melons and she did quite a few different things. She got into pickle making and that is my #1 project for next year. She gave me a jar of her dills and I shared with the family at this past Saturdays cookout. I liked them a lot and most of the family did too.
Here's my question............ Has anyone grown the pickling cucumber that produces only female flowers? I believe it was burpee's site I saw them on, but am sure many companies have them. Just wondering opinions from some that have grown these. Heres my main question. They say there are a few seeds of a different variety mixed in the packet that are normal producing male and female flowers so all the females flowers on the plants that only produce females get pollinated. WHAT IF I DON'T PLANT ONE OF THOSE "FEW"SEEDS? I'm thinking it may be a wise decision to buy another strain and grow both together. Any thoughts or experience with this?

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:05 am
by FieldofFlowers
We just use whatever we get. The usual varieties my grandma grew were American Pickling and Straight 8's. Disappointed with the last two years (blight, mold, vine borers, etc...) I decided to try new varieties.

This year I'm using Burpee's sweet butter crunch, sweet burpless hybrid, and bush cucumber. We also have one possible American Pickling vine. The cukes look different, but once thinly sliced and made into pickles it doesn't seem to matter. (other than my grandma takes extra work to remove seeds from larger pickles because they bother her.)
garden5 wrote:I kind of cheat when I make pickles, in fact, you really can't call them pickles, I guess.

What I do is when I get a jar of pickles, I keep the jar and the juices after I eat all the pickles. Then, when I get some cukes, I just slice them up, stick them in the pickle juice, and keep them in the fridge until I need them.


Hey, they taste like pickles, so it works for me.
I did that too and had the same result (excellent tasting crispy dill pickles), but then my grandma caught me and warned I could get botulism from doing that :!: She said there has to be a certain level of vinegar or something. Is that true? I'm confused. :?

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:29 am
by applestar
Have you read the list of ingredients in store-bought pickles? :eek:
I won't reuse those pickle juices.

However, I have reused my own bread and butter pickle juice, straining out the solids, bringing to boil, then Adding and cooking the brined slices until color changes, adding back the solids (spices, herbs) and sometimes supplementing with fresh, bringing to boil again. These are obviously not for canning and storing at room temp. they're kept in the fridge and are quickly consumed.

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:07 pm
by LindsayArthurRTR
I grew straight 8's and ashley's this year. Both had really good pickling results. Made dill pickles with them. They are very cruchy and irresistable. Next year, I'm going to try the sour Mexican gherkins and lemon cukes. I've read in 2 catalogs that they make excellent pickles. I also wanna try the blonies, which are a white pickling cuke!

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:18 pm
by garden5
I hear you, Apps. It does seem like a step backwards to take organically grown cucumbers and dunk them in the preservative-laden junk from the store. But, I don't have the equipment or knowledge (yet :wink:) to make and can my own. Since the cukes are organic, at least this is better than buying inorganically grown cucumbers that are packed in the preservatives :?.

On another note, why is it better to use pickling cucumbers to make pickles rather than other kinds.....what's the advantage? Do they taste different?

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:32 pm
by Dixana
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I'm fairly certain pickling cucumbers don't develope hard seeds as soon as other varieties.
What I'm wanting are the cukes you can pick when they're "gherkin" sized to make whole cuke pickles, so they're not bitter.
A lot of times if you pick regular cukes when they are only 2-3 inches long they're very bitter and/or sour tasting.

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:11 pm
by applestar
I'm growing Picarow -- at leat I think that's what they are -- seeds saved from last year's grown until mature fruit. They make good barrel pickle shaped cukes though you can pick them smaller, and they taste good with soft seeds even when they're the size of -- oh what are those big sausages called? "something"worst -- about 2-1/2" in diameter. We eat them fresh as well as pickle them.

The mature, hard-shelled yellow fruit was about the size of a Nerf football.

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:21 pm
by jal_ut
I did that too and had the same result (excellent tasting crispy dill pickles), but then my grandma caught me and warned I could get botulism from doing that She said there has to be a certain level of vinegar or something. Is that true? I'm confused.
Botulism only becomes a problem in an anaerobic environment. In other words if sealed in a jar with no oxygen. Botulism also will not grow in an environment of sufficient acidity.

I would not worry about botulism with the fresh cukes in an unsealed jar in the fridg.

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:36 pm
by jal_ut
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I'm fairly certain pickling cucumbers don't develope hard seeds as soon as other varieties.
It seems just the opposite to me. Pickling cukes 5 inches long have pretty big seeds. Straight eight varieties can get twice that long before having seeds that big.

We use straight eight cukes for pickles and just pick them at the size we want for the product we are making. I like to get straight 8 cukes about 5 inches long for dill pickles. These are slim and no seeds yet and fit just right in a quart bottle.

I had a friend who wanted some cukes for pickles, and he wanted some fat ones about 4 inches long. I could not get him any of that description from my patch of straight 8s. So you see, it depends on what you want. Different recipes call for different cukes.

You just have to try this stuff and see what works for you.

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:41 pm
by garden5
jal_ut wrote:
I did that too and had the same result (excellent tasting crispy dill pickles), but then my grandma caught me and warned I could get botulism from doing that She said there has to be a certain level of vinegar or something. Is that true? I'm confused.
Botulism only becomes a problem in an anaerobic environment. In other words if sealed in a jar with no oxygen. Botulism also will not grow in an environment of sufficient acidity.

I would not worry about botulism with the fresh cukes in an unsealed jar in the fridg.
Thanks for clearing that up, Jal.

In addition to all you said, I also think that all the preservatives that are in the juices will prevent some diseases as well.

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:47 am
by jal_ut
While on the subject, let me also say that the heat of processing in a water bath canner will not kill botulism spores. That is why we always process non acid foods in a pressure canner. A pressure canner gets hot enough to kill the spores with proper processing times. When we make pickles the recipes call for enough vinegar that the botulism spores will not grow. It is the vinegar that makes pickles safe when processed in the water bath canner. The heat of the canner will kill all molds, yeasts, and bacteria.

When the jars are being processed, the liquid in the jar boils and the steam escapes out of the jar taking the air and oxygen with it. That head space that looks like air in the sealed jars is not air, it is a vacuum. Hence the jars are devoid of oxygen and if there is not enough acid in the jar to prevent the growth of botulism, the spores can and will grow without oxygen. The problem is that when botulism grows without oxygen, it produces a deadly toxin. It is usually a death sentence to anyone unfortunate enough to ingest it, and it only takes a little bit.

This is why I always say use tested and approved recipes for home canning, and follow the instructions exactly. Don't add or subtract from the recipe as it could change the acidity, and don't make up your own recipe.

One more thing, if you live at higher altitudes, remember to add time or pressure to compensate for the lower boiling temperature of water at higher elevations. Check with your extension office for information.

OK, hope this helps you understand what the risks are. Home canning can be very rewarding, but lets be safe!

I'll get off the soap box............ for now at least.

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:00 pm
by garden5
jal_ut wrote:While on the subject, let me also say that the heat of processing in a water bath canner will not kill botulism spores. That is why we always process non acid foods in a pressure canner. A pressure canner gets hot enough to kill the spores with proper processing times. When we make pickles the recipes call for enough vinegar that the botulism spores will not grow. It is the vinegar that makes pickles safe when processed in the water bath canner. The heat of the canner will kill all molds, yeasts, and bacteria.

When the jars are being processed, the liquid in the jar boils and the steam escapes out of the jar taking the air and oxygen with it. That head space that looks like air in the sealed jars is not air, it is a vacuum. Hence the jars are devoid of oxygen and if there is not enough acid in the jar to prevent the growth of botulism, the spores can and will grow without oxygen. The problem is that when botulism grows without oxygen, it produces a deadly toxin. It is usually a death sentence to anyone unfortunate enough to ingest it, and it only takes a little bit.

This is why I always say use tested and approved recipes for home canning, and follow the instructions exactly. Don't add or subtract from the recipe as it could change the acidity, and don't make up your own recipe.

One more thing, if you live at higher altitudes, remember to add time or pressure to compensate for the lower boiling temperature of water at higher elevations. Check with your estension office for information.

OK, hope this helps you understand what the risks are. Home canning can be very rewarding, but lets be safe!

I'll get off the soap box............ for now at least.

Great info, Jal. I'm new to the practice of canning and like to learn whatever I "can" about it, especially about the health/safety aspects. Is botulism the main disease you have to worry about?

Is there a way to tell if it is already present in something canned?

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:18 pm
by LindsayArthurRTR
A bulging can or lid, or a broken seal.

A can or lid that shows signs of corrosion.

Food that has oozed or seeped under the jar’s lid.

Gassiness, indicated by tiny bubbles moving upward in the jar (or bubbles visible when you open the can)

Food that looks mushy, moldy, or cloudy

Food that gives off an unpleasant or disagreeable odor when you open the jar.

Spurting liquid from the can or jar when you open it.

Botulism poisoning can be fatal. Because botulism spores have no odor and can’t be seen, you can’t always tell which jars are tainted. If you suspect that a jar or can of food is spoiled, never, never, never taste it. Dispose of the food responsibly.

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:37 am
by jal_ut
Is botulism the main disease you have to worry about?
The indicators in the previous post are very good. Botulism is the one we really need to worry about because it is deadly. Some of the other oragnisms that may taint our food can make us sick, but are not generally fatal. Most gererally if a jar seal has failed, we will be able to tell something is amiss with it and toss the contents.
Is there a way to tell if it is already present in something canned?
Possibly not! The best protection is proper canning methods with approved recipes. I know, sounds like a scratched record.

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:13 am
by rainbowgardener
Here's some of the places here that recipes for refrigerator pickles (no-cooking, no-canning) have been given

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=143026&highlight=refrigerator+pickles#143026

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=96534&highlight=refrigerator+pickles#96534

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16440

I found these by typing refrigerator pickles into the Search the Forum keyword box.

I made the refrigerator pickles last year and will again soon, cukes are piling up from the CSA, and thought they came out good. Because they are not cooked or canned, you can't put them on a shelf and keep them for ever. They have to stay in the refrigerator and only last a few weeks, but they are good.

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:12 am
by garden5
I guess that's what always scares me is that I may accidentally overlook a sign that something's wrong and end up sick.

However, I suppose I need to put my fears in perspective as I don't what the chances really are that I could contract something fatal from something I canned.

I'm going to leave the canning topic at this and perhaps continue it in the recipe section as I don't want take this thread off track (as I have a tendency to do so :roll: ) Now then, back to the cucke varieties.