I want to start by talking about a great decision that we have made this year - joining a CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it basically means that you pay for a share in the goodies from the farm's growing season! We paid for the entire season in May, and then from June - October we get a box of fruits, veggies and herbs once a week! It's a really great way to try things you might not pick up at the grocery store, and to support local agriculture!
Another added benefit of our particular CSA (all work a little differently) is that we can order extra or specialty items each week as well! This is really great for me during canning season, so I can order extra fruits and veggies to preserve for the whole year!
This week I loaded up on the pickling cucumbers - they were way cheaper than the store or other farmstands would have been AND the quality was awesome. Even when I've grown my own pickling cukes, I never got ones that were this tasty, size appropriate, and crisp:
I mean, seriously. Aren't these beautiful?
I had about 5 pounds of cucumbers, so I broke it up to make both fridge dills and bread and butters. I divided the batch into 1.5 lbs for the bread and butters and 3.5 lbs for the fridge dills - my favorite!
I find that when it comes to dill pickles, I get the best results making short term (fridge) dills that aren't water bath canned. Honestly, they never last too long anyway in my house because they are so tasty! I use a Bobby Flay recipe that I originally found over at One Perfect Bite.
Sliced cukes mixed with garlic and dill. Packed pickles in the jars after an overnight brine bath.
Beautiful jars of briny goodness. ` All ready for the fridge! `
As for the bread and butter pickles, I find those are much better when they are water bath canned. I don't prefer the bread and butters, but my husband LOVES them on sandwiches so I always make him a few pints! The recipe that I use is from one of my favorite canning cookbooks, Food in Jars. Marisa also has a website with lots of great recipes and tips! But I really REALLY recommend buying her book -- it's a great canning resource!
Bread and butters getting heated through. Finished bread and butters ready for the pantry!
The quality of the cucumber that you use definitely matters - so try to go as fresh and local as you can! Being a mom now, I don't have as much time for my garden as I used to, so I only grow certain things. Joining the CSA has definitely helped me to continue to get some of my favorite fruits and veggies in large quantities without having to grow them myself!
Are you canning anything exciting? Do you belong to a CSA? I'd love to hear all about what you are doing with your own gardens this time of year! =) Thanks for reading!