I've always wanted to try making fermented pickles, and now that our good neighbor has a cucumber patch that's producing faster than he can eat, my pickle dreams are coming true.
Once again, our little kitchen was a cool oasis on a hot summer day. An oasis filled with piles of overgrown cucumbers!
The fermented pickle instruction that I found on-line said to use grape or oak leaves in the brine to add tannin to preserve crunchiness. I picked a few wild grape leaves, but most of them have been devoured by Japanese beetles, so I added a handful of green oak leaves from our big oak tree. The leaves had lots of spots. I hope oak leaf spots don't taste funny.
Most of the cucumbers are much bigger than the average pickle, but I put the smallest ones into some cold water to soak for a while before I put them in a big glass jar with the leaves, some little onions from the garden, a few spoonfuls of dried dill, and some really salty water. After the first day, little bubbles started to form along the top of the jar, so I knew there was some bacterial action. On the second day we tasted the first one, and it was pretty good! Crispy, and salty. On the third day we tried another, and it was a little more bitter and made my tongue feel tingly. Still crunchy though. At some point I need to put them in the refrigerator to calm the bacteria so they don't go soggy.
In my quest to figure out how we can use more of our cucumber hoard, I stumbled upon several references to cucumber water. How fancy! I loaded a jar full of ice, cucumber slices and water and took it to Brandon, who was outside working on the fence where it was sweltering.
He was so hot I probably could have handed him ice water with old banana peals floating in it and he would have drank it, but after a big gulp of cucumber water he said "Hey, I like that!" We've been having cucumber slices in water ever since. Cold cucumber slices are a nice snack once the water is gone too. And, they feel nice on my eyelids when I want to pretend I'm at a comfy spa instead of a hot barn yard.
Even Wendigo likes to munch a cold slice.
Can you see how Brandon is tying the corners and braces together with wire? The wire it attached to hardware pieces that ratchet it really tight. This is one intense fence - the posts are braced and then tied tight together with wire. Surely, as our neighbor said, it will keep a miniature donkey at bay!
The fence officially has four complete sides now. The longest side was no problem with the fence pulling method we are using, which employs to hand wenches to get the top and bottom of the fence really tight. Because the ground on the long side had a slight dip, once the fence was pulled tight, I had to stand on it to bring it back to the ground so we could attach it to the posts. The next step before the fence is done is to install some gates. Once the gates are in place, this fence with be donkey capable!