They grow up so fast! I remember just yesterday, it seems, that they were just little sprouts. Yes, they say cucumbers should be thinned out to just a few per hill when they come up, but I didn’t have the heart to uproot many.
I admit I am going to have way too many cucumbers. The blessing of cucumbers is that they are a wonderful fresh summer vegetable. However, they are not usually preserved except by pickling, and we can eat only so many pickles. This year, I am making dilled pickles, sweet pickles, bread & butter pickles, and I’m experimenting with candied dill pickles, our favorite type of pickle.
Now our bush beans are filling out their raised garden bed like the troopers they are. I have no problem with a bumper crop of beans. Our family could eat them at every meal–bacon and onion beans, garlic and olive oil beans, bean salad, beans and butter… They also freeze beautifully. Last season we were still having green beans for Sunday dinner through March. This year, we may just make it until next harvest!
FREEZING GREEN BEANS
1. Snap off stem ends of beans and rinse well in cold water.
2. Boil a large pot of water. Also prepare a large pot of ice water. Have extra ice on hand.
3. Bring water to a boil and add several hands full of fresh beans. Allow water to return to a boil and blanch the beans for 3 minutes.
4. Remove beans from water with a slotted utensil or strainer. Immediately plunge them in ice water and leave them until they are cool.
5. Drain beans and place in freezer bags in meal-sized portions. Freeze immediately.
6. Add more ice to ice water bath as needed to cool blanched beans quickly. This stops the cooking cycle. Beans should be blanched and still crisp when cooled, not cooked.
Homemade pickles and home-grown green beans add a bit of summer to all our winter meals. LET THE HARVESTING BEGIN!