Every year we get more cucumbers than we know what to do with in our little suburban garden. This year we’re doing our best to keep up with the garden and harvest stuff when it tastes best.
(We’re already way behind on the greens which have bolted and gone bitter, yet we’re still trudging our way through it with the spiciest homemade salad dressings we can come up with to mask the bitterness.)
I pulled our first four to five pickling cucumbers off the vine over Independence Day weekend, and decided to try to actually make homemade dill pickles with them for once. We’ve mostly only eaten them crisp and fresh before – never occurred to us how easy dill pickles really are.
We actually made these homemade dill pickles two days ago, and we let them pickle in their brine for at least two days before opening and trying. The brine has smashed garlic, crushed red pepper, cider vinegar and salt making it all delicious.
We don’t have plans to keep the pickles long (I’ll be lucky if they last a week with how much my husband to eat pickles out of the jar as a snack), so we didn’t do jar boiling steps to keep them shelf stable for much longer than a few weeks.
We opened the jar and tried them after two days – I am not a huge pickle fan or pickle connoisseur, but I think they’re delicious. They’re definitely still crisp after two days, but Luke (who is a connoisseur) prefers a softer, more pickled pickle so he’ll probably dig in more after another day or two.
Homemade Dill Pickles Recipe
- 4-6 six-inch pickling cucumbers
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 3 teaspoons dill seed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- A few sprigs of fresh dill per jar (optional)
- 2-3 wide mouth mason jars
- Wash mason jars, lids and lid rings with soap and water. Dry completely.
- Wash and dry the cucumbers, brushing off any prickly bits and trimming blossoms and ends. The pickle spears should be about a half inch below the top of the jar.
- Slice the cucumbers into spears. I got roughly 6-8 spears per pickling cucumber.
- Peel and smash the garlic cloves.
- Divide garlic, dill seed and red pepper flakes between the mason jars. Add fresh dill sprigs if you want.
- Pack the pickle spears into each of the jars tightly, but without smooshing them.
- Make the brine by bringing the cider vinegar, water and kosher salt to a rolling boil.
- Fill each mason jar up to about a half inch below the top of the jar.
- Tap the mason jars a few times in the counter before sealing to get rid of air bubbles.
- Put the lids on the jars and screw as tightly as possible.
- Cool the dill pickle jars to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator once completely cooled.
- Wait three to four days before opening the jars so they can fully pickle in the brine.
- They can keep in the refrigerator three to four weeks.
Recipe Copyright Fifty-Two Cakes 2012
Update 7/30: Trying some new variations today! Did some spear pickles with a fresh jalapeño I picked from my garden, and some sliced sandwich pickles with mustard seed. Skipped the crushed red pepper. Hope it works out!
I’m debating whether to make Fifty-Two Cakes into a general recipe site as long as it involves an oven. I’m also debating whether I have the energy to start another 52-week project in which I would do Fifty-Two Cookies. You tell me – do you have any interest in seeing either or both of those things?
Ok, on to learning how to bake acorn squash! I know this is not a dessert, but sweet baked acorn squash is delicious and just sweet enough to be. I’m a member of KC Door to Door Organics, which I would recommend to anyone. I’ll blog more about it sometime. There is always an ingredient in my organics box I’m not super familiar with how to prepare, and I consider it my “challenge ingredient” for that week. The last several boxes my challenge has been eggplant. This time it was a Kansas City local acorn squash.
A little about acorn squash – it’s a wintertime squash that usually has a dark green skin, but apparently golden and white acorn squash exist too. It looks like a big green acorn, imagine that. Apparently you can store these in a cool, dry place (like your basement) for a month or more and they keep just fine because of their thick, tough skin. But it feels like fall for the first time this week and I just had to bake it today. They’re pretty low calorie, a half squash with this recipe is under 150 calories. I didn’t think to bake the seeds like you do pumpkin seeds and accidentally threw them in the compost, but those are edible too. I definitely think I will plant some of these in my garden next year.
I have to thank my friend Lori for the inspiration on how to prepare the acorn squash. (Thanks!) Apparently this is similar to how her parents always prepared it! Without further ado…
Baked Acorn Squash Recipe Ingredients
- 1 whole acorn squash
- 1-2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Up to 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- A dash of cinnamon, baking spice or whatever sounds good
Baked Acorn Squash Recipe Directions
It’s super easy and fast to make, the longest part is just waiting on it to come out of the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half. I had to use my biggest Wusthof knife and really throw some weight into it. Use a spoon to scrape out the squash seeds in the center. Set aside if you want to bake them separately. Score the squash with a knife or poke holes with a skewer (not going so far as to pierce the skin). In the “bowl” of the squash, coat the yellow parts with 1/2 to a full tablespoon of butter for each side. Rub brown sugar on the butter-coated parts. Drizzle with a bit of maple syrup (whatever you feel like, but don’t go overboard). Sprinkle a dash of baking spice, cinnamon or something else tasty on there. Fill your pan with enough water that it won’t all boil off in the oven. This water will help keep the skin from drying out while it bakes. Place gooey-side up and skin-side down and bake for about an hour or more until the top is golden brown. My favorite part of this baked acorn squash recipe? I only had to wait about 3 minutes after I pulled it out of the oven to eat it. YUM!