More Pickles

As is custom to this time of year, we are beginning to pickle just about everything. This time it’s the pepperoncini and mouse melons we grew at home.

Most of the peppers we grow were started from seed right here at home, but not the pepperoncini. I suppose that’s why I’m already able to harvest and pickle so early. The other plants are doing well, yes, but nowhere near harvestable fruits yet.

Pepperoncini from July 3.

I had a few mouse melons already, too, but not enough to pickle in their own batch, so I mixed the two up in the same liquid with some bonus purslane stems.

Mouse melons are a tiny cucumber-like fruit that grow abundantly on these long, beautiful vines. I’ve grown them the last five years, and I love mixing them into all sorts of pickles.

Mouse melon vines
Mouse melon

Mouse melons taste like a citrus-infused cucumber, and I just love them. I will often pick a handful off the vine at a time just to snack on while I’m watering plants. They’re delicious and economical: I think the starter plant was about $4 from the Southside Community Land Trust sale earlier this spring.

This year I bought two starter plants because I wanted to test which environment they prefer; morning sun and afternoon shade or morning shade with afternoon sun? So far it appears that the morning sun (back of the house) is faring better.

Not to go on forever about the mouse melon, but the description says they only get to about 4 feet, but every year mine climb up higher than the house. Neither the vines nor the fruit are very heavy, so it poses no danger to have them climb that high; I just thought it was interesting they described it as so stubby.

I’ve been saving some pepperoncini vinegar from some commercial jars that I like, and so I heated it up on the stove and poured it right over the packed vegetables. I did add one clove of garlic for good measure.

Because they are vinegar pickles, I didn’t bother adding bay leaf for tannins. It’s such a small jar that I don’t think it will really matter, and I hope to eat them by the end of the week.

Pickles ready for the fridge.

I forgot how buoyant peppers can sometimes be when you pickle them, so I tried criss-crossing some carrot to hold them down. Eventually. Justin weighed them down with a small container held down by the lid. It’s not ideal, but until I get more seasonable and find my pickle weights, this will have to do.

Happy pickling!


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