Category Archives: cucumber

cool as a cucumber…

The weather has been decidedly cool and showery over the last week.  It has been a case of dipping in and out of working on the holding and interleaving with other activities like PICKLING.

I’ve never made pickled gherkins before; eaten quite a few though.  So this year we grew several gherkin plants, as well as ridge cucumbers.  The variety is ‘Piccolo di Parigi’. I turned to the web for a recipe and plumped for a sweet vinegar version.  The taste is good, though I’m not sure about all the powdered spices used, as they have fallen to form a layer at the bottom of the jar.

Also, the recipe didn’t include dill, which is my favourite herb in the garden right now.  It’s looking fabulous at the moment, (one for the ornamental garden I think), and the umbellifer flowers attract masses of insects, including parasitic wasps which is why I grow dill in the polytunnel. So the next batch of pickles must be a dill version though I may try a ‘bread and butter’ recipe as well.  After all, practice makes perfect.

Back to the subject of cucumbers.  I’m growing all of my plants together in the polytunnel.   According to my, belated, research, this might not be a good idea if I have any ‘greenhouse’ varieties as apparently cross pollination from a male flower, (and ridge cucumbers have both male and female flowers), can produce bitter fruit in the ‘greenhouse’ types.  However, as I’m still trying to get my head round the different cucumber categories, parthenocarpic, (seedless) types and gynecoecous types, (for increased yields, as they produce few male flowers) etc. I’m not too concerned.  I’ll double check the seed before I sow next year. 

The first slicing cucumber we harvested this year is a very pale green, thin skinned, variety, and it is delicious.

So, I decided to make good use of this first cucumber of the growing season and made finger sandwiches, served alongside an egg mayonnaise version and strawberry scones. Afternoon tea, delicious!

always time for tea…

Come the beginning of summer, one’s thoughts turn to afternoon tea.  The weather is not too hot, not too cold and the breeze is balmy.  In truth, I was helped on my thought journey by watching ‘The Durrells,’ followed by ‘Mary Berry Cooks’ on catch up, whilst doing the ironing.  The wind is still quite blustery round here.

Oh, the fabulous 1930s clothes, all gorgeous prints and georgette pin tucked shirts, (Durrells, not Mary Berry – though she’s no slouch in the dress department), and Mary baking up a storm as well as visiting an estate in Cornwall, (Tregothnan), that has a tea plantation. Watching the clip on Tregothnan, I’ve been captivated by the idea of growing my own.  I am a dyed-in-the-wool tea drinker, (must be leaf, thank you).  I might track down a few Camellia sinensis var. sinensis bushes for the kitchen garden, they’re meant to be quite tough plants.  They need acidic soil conditions, so perhaps in a pot.  I can put them with the blueberries.

In the meantime, we have a glut of strawberries, so in homage to afternoon tea, I’ve hauled out the preserving pan and pectin sugar for a spot of jam making a la Mary Berry’s recipe.

As it’s jam not a conserve, it’s a 1:1 ratio fruit to sugar, and I’ve used jam sugar, which has added pectin to help the set of low pectin fruit like strawberries.

So here’s MB’s method:

1 kg strawberries, with the juice of a lemon, softened over a low heat.  Then 1 kg sugar in, stirred until it dissolves, boil 5-6 minutes, check using the wrinkle method, leave for 10 minutes then stir to evenly distribute the fruit. Ladle into sterilised jars.  Done, all ready for scones.

As well as tea, I can serve up some refreshing elderflower cordial… I just need the cucumbers to hurry up growing for the finger sandwiches!



it’s hygge round here…

Apparently, hygge has been a big, big trend for 2016.  Though I have to say it passed me by until I read a plethora of articles on ‘hygge’ in autumn. So I looked up the meaning.  Well, I like to think that the lovely OH and I have been bang on the zeitgeist even if we didn’t realise it.

To get in the right mood, right on cue the weather has obliged and turned the holding into a winterscape.

dsc_0027dsc_0023dsc_0030Chilly on the outside but warm indoors and what better way to have a ‘hygge at home’ moment – cozy fire, lit candles, blankets, and great food.

Simplicity is in, so the lovely OH prepared gravlax…

dsc_0007dsc_0008which we partnered with fresh salads (beetroot & apple; pickled cucumber; potato); rye and crisp breads, plus blinis topped with creme fraiche and lumpfish caviar.

dsc_0001Served alongside a flute of sparkling champagne.

Happy New Year!








clearing the decks…

dsc_0609 We have started to remove the heat-loving fruit and vegetables from the polytunnel.  All the ripe chillies have been picked along with the tomatoes, (green and red), melons, aubergines, sweet peppers and cucumbers.

dsc_0608So we have quite a lot of preserving activity ahead of us.  The lovely OH has made a start on the chillies.

dsc_0611dsc_0614He has found that putting a slit into the chilli before drying in the dehydrator helps to dry the chillies faster. Once dried we can use the chillies through next year.

Of course, we are eating as much fresh produce as possible, so our weekly supper menu has a definite lean towards vegetarian recipes.  Gathered together here…the vegetable ingredients for a sambhar, recipe courtesy of Meera Sodha’s ‘Fresh India‘.