If you have a garden, the cucumbers may be trying to take over, gripping everything they can in viney puckers, dropping a little cucumber here and a larger one there – just like so many pods in a science fiction movie trying to take over the world.
If you don’t have a garden it’s a pity. I don’t right now. But then again there’s the Farmer’s Market where cucumbers will be piled in boxes awaiting their fate.
What to do with them. Gazpacho. Salads – simple, complex, Oriental, Germanic. Raita to side a curry or tzaziki to dollop into pita with grilled faux gyros of ground lamb and beef tossed together with herbs and spices.
Then there’s pickles.
I know of a pickle that many people have never tasted, never heard of. It’s an odd sort of pickle. A rough and ready sort of pickle without the least bit of pretension to finesse. It’s called a Maine (Sour) Mustard Pickle.
The only place I’ve ever had these pickles (aside from when I make them) was in Maine – made by my grandmother who was not a cook by any means and by my aunt who is a good home cook, the first good home cook I ever knew. The taste reminds me of my family, and of the history of my family. The taste is not all sweet, but very real.
It’s best to make these pickles in a real pickle jar – but if you don’t have one they can be made in what you do have.
The big expense will be dry mustard. Surprisingly it isn’t cheap in the usual grocery stores. It can be found in bulk at the ‘health food store’ sometimes at more affordable prices, though.
If you like pickles and if you like mustard, these are worth a try. They will start off gentle and become more sour as time progresses – denser, more puckery.
Here’s a recipe:
Old Fashioned Sour Mustard Pickles
2 quarts of apple cider vinegar
½ cup salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup ground dry mustard
Some garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
Wash and dry the whole cucumbers and garlic and pack them into jars or a crock, the bigger the vessel the better.
Mix together other ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Close jars or crock and store in a cool place.
The pickles will be quite sour within a week.
P.S. “Kirby” style cucumbers are best for this recipe somehow but the larger cucumbers cut in chunks will do though they will pickle faster and taste even stronger.