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Cream of Mutant Soup


It’s the funniest things that throw you, when you’re a immigrant. Like pickles. If you think pickles is pickles, then you, sir or madam, are a booboo.

My hankering for a big fat kosher dill ran into a brick wall of gustatory mixed metaphors when I bit into my first British pickle. I did not know the pickles I’m accustomed to are preserved in garlicky brine with just a soupçon of vinegar. British ones? 100% vinegar. Looks like a pickle, tastes like what the fuck??

Hence, Uncle B very kindly grew me some gherkins for pickling. So, ummmm…any gardeners out there grown gherkins? Google was no help at all. Do they turn orange when they’re overripe? Like Ticonderoga pencil orange? Like, line-down-the-middle-of-the-highway orange? Because I plucked a mutant off the vine this afternoon that looked like a knobbly safety vest.

I ate it, of course. I cut it up with a couple of the ordinary green kind some herbs and junk from the garden, and I made soup. And very tasty it was, too. I feel okay so far.

Only, my farts could strip wallpaper.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 28, 2009, 5:56 pm

I know, I know. Very ladylike. Here it is in all its mutant splendor:


Comment from Allen
Time: July 28, 2009, 6:26 pm

Oooo pickles. Yes that’s a mutant cuke, good thing you did not try to pickle it. I have never really run across any cuke disease that directly attacks the cucumber itself. Weird, but I do have my grandfather’s recipe.

Onni’s Crystal Gherkins (don’t laugh Onni is a perfectly respectable Finnish name.)

Take about 30 gherkin size cucumbers, wash, and scrub the flower end.

In a brine, that will just float an egg, submerge the cucumbers for two weeks at 70 degrees F.

Every morning skim the scum off the top of the water.

After the two weeks soak the cucumbers in fresh water changed twice daily for three days.

Overnight let the cucumbers stand in water with a lump of alum powder the size of a walnut added.

Bring to boil a pickling brine of half and half vinegar and sugar (two quarts each,) and two Tbsps pickling spice. Let the brine cool and pour over the drained cucumbers. Each morning bring the brine to a boil, let it cool and pour back over cukes. Do this for 3 mornings.

Process the canning jars in a standard 15 minute water bath.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 28, 2009, 6:36 pm

Oooo…those sound fabulous, Allen. But really labor-intensive. I’ve got a couple of mason jars full of my first attempt, but I’m a little dubious about them.

I have managed to find a pretty good commercial brine pickle: the Krakus Polish pickle is close enough for dammit.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: July 28, 2009, 6:44 pm

I’m surprised you can’t get kosher dill pickles in Tesco’s. I’m pretty sure I used to get them when I was last in the UK (ten years ago).

That orange gherkin looks angry. I would have grabbed a garden fork and backed away from it very slowly in case it went for my throat.

Comment from Nicole
Time: July 28, 2009, 6:46 pm

My grandmother made dill pickles when I was a kid. We never made the mini pickles. My grandparents preferred the big ones and then cut them into chunks to pickle. I have been sorely tempted to try growing cucumbers in the back yard just to try pickling a batch of small ones. I remember putting them in a big stoneware crock and covering it with a big plate and having to wait days to do anything else with them.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 28, 2009, 6:53 pm

You probably can, David. Tasting my way through the whole pickle aisle was getting expensive, though. I find the completely-vinegar ones totally inedible. But it’s hard to tell from reading the label, because all of them have some vinegar in.

Of course, I have convinced myself I’m going to get botulism from home canning. My mother said “botulism” the way other people say “Freddy Kruger” so it’s kinda stuck in my psyche.

Comment from gnus
Time: July 28, 2009, 8:27 pm

There’s a bunch of refrigerator pickle recipes at CooksDotCom. Not as labor-intensive, looks easier to experiment with ingredients to get that yummy pickle taste.

Too bad they don’t have a microwave recipe.

Comment from Dawn
Time: July 28, 2009, 8:30 pm

I have survived multiple hospitalizations for food poisoning. I do not eat anything that looks or smells off and THAT pickle looks like death to me.

Comment from armybrat
Time: July 28, 2009, 8:59 pm

make sure you throw a nice pequin pepper in each jar to add a nice bit of spice to your pickles.

Comment from Nicole
Time: July 28, 2009, 9:06 pm

Yeah, you can usually tell if home canned stuff has gone off. But, like Dawn, I don’t eat anything that is even remotely questionable. Just not worth it.

Just after reading this, I was flipping through Better Homes and Gardens and there was a bread and butter pickles recipe.

Prep: 60 minutes
Chill: 3 to 24 hours

12 cups 1/4-inch thick slices small cucumbers (about 4 lb.)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. kosher or pickling salt
4 to 5 cups crushed ice
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
2 tsp. celery seeds
4 1/4-inch thick slices slices unpeeled fresh ginger

1. In a large bowl gently toss the cucumbers, onions, and kosher salt. Transfer to colander set in extra-large bowl, layering with ice, and finishing with a layer of ice. Weight with heavy plate. Chill overnight, up to 24 hours.

2. Meanwhile, for pickling syrup, in large nonreactive (stainless, enamel, or nonstick) saucepan combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and ginger. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to proceed with recipe.

3. After cucumbers have chilled, remove any unmelted ice and discard any liquid in bowl. Transfer cucumber mixture to nonreactive Dutch oven.

4. Strain syrup through a large sieve lined with cheesecloth over cucumbers. Bring mixture just to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

5. With a large spoon transfer cucumbers to hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Bring syrup in Dutch oven to boiling. Ladle hot syrup over pickles to cover. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth. Put on lids and screw bands. To seal, invert jars until cool. Store in refrigerator. Makes 5 pints (40 1/4-cup servings).

This makes sweet pickles, I’m guessing you could use dill and garlic instead of the sugar and ginger. But since it doesn’t take as long, you don’t have to wait as long to see if you like them. 🙂

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 28, 2009, 9:30 pm


I’ve been practicing my home canning for about a year now, well, last season and this season. That much acid (vinegar) in the jar will keep away any botulism. You only get that with low acid foods. I made gallons of garlic dills last year, but they weren’t as crunchy as the store-bought. alum = crunch. And my extended family and friends are still alive. Add fat garlic cloves to any recipe. mmm (I like them better than the cucumber bits).

God, bread and butters…grandma use to make the BEST!

They grow peaches in GB? I made a wicked bourbon-peach jam last year. Got raves

Happy Canning – and BREWING!!

Comment from apotheosis
Time: July 28, 2009, 9:48 pm

You didn’t actually EAT that thing, did you?

I worry. 🙁

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 28, 2009, 11:30 pm

I’ve never had any luck with cucumbers, mostly because I always seem to get busy elsewhere when they are ripening, and come back to find a bunch of yellow ones. . .but they have always also been gooshy. I might eat them if they were just yellow, but when you can punch a hole in them by pressing gently with a finger, I draw the line. Still–there must be an intermediate stage between green and firm on the one hand, and yellow and gooshy on the other. . .

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 28, 2009, 11:49 pm

Nope, I think they go directly to gooshy CHMC.

I love a good, cruchy dill pickle. Alas my blood pressure is high and I can’t have them anymore. Well, at least until I get the BP under control anyway.

Comment from Deborah
Time: July 29, 2009, 1:10 am

I have sent my husband’s grandfather’s pickle recipe to your email address. It’s the easiest pickle I’ve ever tried and tastes wonderful (and I really don’t like pickles, so I have a very critical palate).

Pop was a wonderful cook (and quite the ladies’ man), and grew huge, fabulous vegetable gardens. The produce of which—he mostly gave away (to ladies, whenever possible). More about Pop: http://www.flagsbay.com/flag/2008/11/27/blessings/

Come Thanksgiving, those pickles will be mighty tasty on your table.

Comment from Allen
Time: July 29, 2009, 11:28 am

I did a new type of gardening this year, it’s called Square Foot Gardening I’ve put up about 10 quarts of pickles, untold amounts of herbs, and I’m averaging about 10 pounds of tomatoes per plant. Plus lots of fresh flowers.

It works great, and it’s the least amount of work for gardening I’ve ever done. I haven’t had to weed once. That alone sealed the deal for me.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 29, 2009, 4:52 pm

I stumbled across this link:

Not that it actually provides a whole lot of helpful information. . .the same search (cucumber & overripe) produced several links to recipes for pickling overripe cucumbers. I guess some people will pickle anything!

Comment from Pupster
Time: July 29, 2009, 5:07 pm

I’d rather take a beating than eat a pickle.

Comment from Will
Time: July 29, 2009, 5:49 pm

That… thing glows with an inner light born of the hellfires. An electric-blue haze ripples along the seams where a thin shell of nature is all that holds back the end of everything we know.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 29, 2009, 6:24 pm

Oh! That recipe looks much easier than the others I’ve found, Deborah. Thank you for that.

And the useful link, Can’t hark. I sampled Orangina while I was cutting her up. I expected an overripe cuke to be bitter, but if anything it was milder than the green ones. Anyhow, I ate it all up and no serious ill consequences today.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: July 30, 2009, 1:34 am

My hankering for a big fat


kosher dill

Oh. Never mind…

Comment from lauraw
Time: August 3, 2009, 3:33 pm

We’ve had a good season for cukes here too. I’ve given away a lot of them, and just tried my hand at pickling last night for the first time. I have some sliced cukes and other sliced veggies and garlic sitting in a cold brine in a crock in the fridge right now. Tonight will boil some vinegar and water with peppercorns and other herbs and transfer the goods to that.

See what happens…

Comment from benning
Time: September 7, 2009, 9:28 am

Gotta be garlic pickles. Can’t stand sweet pickles. Nosireebob!

So how did they come out, sweasel? Or did you toss ’em?

Comment from weirdsister
Time: October 12, 2009, 2:23 am

I’m delving back through the weasel archives ’cause I can’t sleep. Interesting! About half of my cukes this year were this very same color of orange. Not sure why they looked liked their daddy was pumpkin squash, but they tasted fine and they pickled up great, as well. I made dills and cinnamon cucumber rings out of them. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 12, 2009, 7:55 am

I made soup. Lots and lots of cucumber soup.

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