Last weekend, we headed over to Gilbert. They have an area there they call Agritopia. It's pretty cool. They have a restaurant there (Joe's Farm Grill) that uses produce they grow in their own field behind the restaurant. It was featured on Diners, Drive In's, and Dives on the Food Network. There's also a little Coffee Shop that was featured on Cupcake Wars. The houses are so cute and there are little white fences around everything. It's really nice.
During the week they pick produce for the restaurant but on they weekend they open up the fields to the public and you can pick your own produce. We went last weekend mainly because peaches are in season and I really wanted to make peach jam. When we got there we realized we could go over to the other field and get some veggies too. At $2 a lb for organically grown produce, how could we resist?
We got some carrots, a couple of beets (never had them before, thought I'd try it), and a couple of tomatoes. Joe himself was there pointing things out to folks and cutting the tops off plants. He mentioned that there were pickling cucumbers a few rows over and my ears perked up. Dill pickles were on my mental list of things to try canning myself.
So, a bunch of teeny cucumbers came home with us too.
Yesterday afternoon I pulled them out and gave them all a good washing. Since they weren't exactly uniform in size, I cut them to the length of the pint jars I was using then into quarters for spears.
Originally I was going to use the recipe in my Blue Book to make these, but we hit a little stumbling block. I gave a list of things I needed to my husband so he could grab them from the store on his way home from work. Well, instead of bringing me pickling spices he brought this
home from the store.
I could understand how he could think this was what I needed, but a quick look at the directions and ingredients told me it was not. We checked at a few other stores but could not find pickling spices! I know I've seen them before too. I'll have to head to the Penzey's up in Scottsdale to look for them next week. Unfortunately, I knew these cucumbers wouldn't keep that long so I went ahead and used the mix instead of the Blue Book recipe.
I only made four jars, which is plenty for just us. We don't eat a lot of pickles. I had enough of the brine mix to make a LOT more. Most of it ended up going down the drain. I have to say, making pickles is a whole lot easier to do than jam. The main difference is that you don't end up with sticky stuff on every surface in the general area where you're working. That was nice. Also, there's not as much prep - nothing to blanch and peel, nothing to mash or cook. I just sliced the cukes, mixed the spices with water and vinegar, boiled it, filled my jars, and processed. Easy peasy and only took maybe an hour and a half from start to finish. I can't tell you how they taste though because you have to wait 24 hours after they're done processing to open them.
I still want to try these again with the recipe from scratch though instead of the mix.