Summer is for pickles: cucumber, pepper, carrot, bean, beet.

summer pickles

Summer is pickling time.

From left to right: dill pickles, pickled banana peppers, spicy carrot pickles, dill beans, and that’s beet kvass in the back.

These are all fermented pickles — brine pickles, as my great-grandmother would say.

To make brine pickles, put vegetables and spices in a jar or crock (it works better if you put the spices in first, so they don’t float to the top so much), and pour brine over them until they’re submerged. Keep them submerged (with a jar or a rock or a plate — something nonreactive) while the pickle ferments. Cover the top with a cloth to keep the flies out. Take a peek every day, and skim off any scum or mold that develops.

How long the vegetables take to pickle depends on how strong a brine you use. For medium-small pieces of vegetable, I like about 2–3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. This is a light brine, and the pickles should be ready in less than a week at summer room temperatures (60 at night; 80 in the daytime, where I live). If you live in a warmer place, or you want the pickles to keep a long time, use more salt.

Spice mixes depend on your taste.

For dill (cucumber) pickles, I like dill, garlic, peppercorns, cinnamon, allspice, hot pepper, bay. I use pretty much the same mix for dill beans.

For the banana peppers, I used onions and bay leaves. (Note that if you want thick-skinned peppers like these to ferment/pickle properly, you need to slice them open so the brine can get inside.)

For the carrots (which are an attempt to emulate the lovely pickled carrots at Tartine in San Francisco), I used a lot of hot pepper, onions, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme.

I don’t add spices to the beet kvass, which is a beet-flavored drink, rather than a pickle, really.

To keep pickles crisp (especially important for cucumbers), add a handful of grape, cherry, oak or other tannic leaves to the mix.

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We’re more sensitive to gluten than we used to be.

The New York Times’ Well Blog makes note of an interesting study today.

The study found that undiagnosed gluten sensitivity (celiac disease), as measured by a blood test, is four times more common than it was fifty years ago.


The blog’s author (Tara Parker-Pope) speculates that the change “may be due to changes in the way wheat is grown and processed, or the ubiquity of gluten in medications and processed foods.”

I would add that our human ecosystems have seen some pretty serious changes as our food, medicine, and environment have changed. The relationship between gluten sensitivity and intestinal ecology isn’t understood, but I’d be willing to bet it’s significant.

I want to see the results of the Human Microbiome Project!

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While I’m hiding, here’s something to check out.

The Herbwife’s Fiancé has his own blog now.

(Yes, that’s the Herbwife’s Fiancé, recently upgraded from the Herbwife’s Boyfriend.)

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Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-06-14

  • You know it’s been raining a long time when you can pull a yellow dock root straight out of the ground without any effort. #

Comments (4)

Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-05-31

  • Stepped on a wasp. Thank goodness for plantain spit poultices! #
  • Rest peacefully Juliette de Baïracli Levy. #

Comments (1)

Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-05-24

  • Late frost. #
  • Off to cover the frost-tender plants! #
  • Our neighbor’s eggs with seven herbs from the garden. (Savory, parsley, marjoram, thyme, oregano, tarragon, sage.) Good morning! #
  • Surprised at the extent of the frost damage on my spearmint. #

Comments (2)

Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-05-17

  • Frustrated that the USDA plants site is down. #
  • At an herbal consult last week… Client: Can I make my tinctures with moonshine? Me: Why not? (I love being an herbalist in West Virginia.) #
  • So glad Matt Wood included tuliptree in the New World volume of the Earthwise Herbal! #
  • Wondering where the hops will climb, now that they’ve reached the porch roof… #
  • Trying to fix my poor hacked blog. (Thanks, Ellen, for letting me know!) #
  • On my way up the mountain with plant-geeky friends! #
  • So excited about the lovely calamus patch I found on the mountain today! #
  • Our neighbor’s eggs with our other neighbor’s scallions and a morel from yesterday’s walk on the mountain. #
  • The boy is an ice-cream-making fiend. This time: rose petal. #


Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-05-10

  • Glad to find so much chicory in the barnyard this year. #
  • Feeding my little tomato and pepper seedlings some well-rotted cow manure. #
  • Braised beef heart is lovely on a cool, rainy day. #
  • Oh, my, bamboo shoot season is here in earnest! Here’s what I did with them last year: (That and some mustard pickles.) #
  • Off to the farmers market! #


Crabapple twitter for the week of 2009-05-03

  • Dandelions, dandelions, dandelions. Wine, syrup, oil, tincture… yum! #
  • Redbud! Dogwood! Honeysuckle! Glory be to springtime! #
  • Trying to find the time to write a real blogpost. #
  • Out of homemade sourdough… making rolled up “sandwiches” with huge spinach leaves. Yum! #
  • Brought my tomato seedlings inside. (That wind is fierce!) #
  • Ethicurean’s “Aporkalypse now!”: #
  • Theorizing the obvious about swine flu, Mexico, and antibiotics. #


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