Celebrating Opening Weekend of Clark’s Elioak Farm Stand with a few jars of Dill Pickles
One of the best things about living in the suburbs of Maryland is that we have access to a ton of local farmers’ markets from Washington D.C to Baltimore. And now that I have a car to haul my groceries, I no longer have to restrict myself to what I can lug back on the back of my bike going against traffic down a busy city street, although I do miss it from time to time.
I have to admit that my most hated season is summer in Maryland, the humidity and heat is sometimes just unbearable and I’m such a whiner about it too. But, what makes the July and August months survivable is when the Clark’s Elioak Farm Stand opens on the first weekend of July.
I try not to play favorites as to which market I purchase from regularly but Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City holds a special place in my heart. I spent much of my high school years hanging out on the farm, and have watched what started as a small petting farm grow into the Enchanted Forest and a well stocked farm stand that sells seasonal fruits and vegetables along with eggs, dairy and grass fed beef and lamb, and this year they even have a pick your own herbs and flowers field.
Since it was their opening weekend, I made sure to stop by and see what they had in stock. I was pleasantly surprised to find cantaloupe so fragrant that you can smell it from about a foot away), sweet corn from Eastern Maryland, an abundant amount of zucchini, bright yellow patty pan squash, cucumbers and many more. After an hour of mingling at the stand and trying out all their fresh herbs (lemon-basil being my new obsession), I left with 3 dozen ears of corn, 2 cantaloupes, a pound of cherries, 20 pickling cucumbers and a basket of herbs. I was concerned with what I would do with so many pickles, but my friend devised the brilliant idea that I make dill pickles and share them with her.
I’m pretty particular about pickles, I don’t really like it when they are super salty and they have to be cold and crispy. I like them with a bit of a kick, so along with the usual pickling spices of black peppercorn, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, celery seeds I added a bit of red chili pepper flakes and a few cloves of sliced garlic. They are the perfect condiment and side dish for any summer meal. You can eat them within 24-48 hours of pickling them and they last up to 2 weeks. So let’s get to pickling!
adapted from Blondie’s Cakes & Things
4 cups water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 teasp white sugar
6 pickling cucumbers cut into quarters
1 teasp black peppercorns
1/2 teasp coriander seeds
1/2 teasp mustard seeds
1 dried bay leaf (broken up)
1/4 teasp celery seeds (optional)
1/4 teasp red chili pepper flakes
8 medium cloves garlic, cut into long thin pieces
6 large sprigs of fresh dill
Equipment: 2 quart sized ball jars, or 1 large half liter jar (cleaned and dried)
1. In a non-reactive pot, bring water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
2. Place peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried bay leaf, celery seeds, and red chili pepper flakes in the bottom of the jars.
3. Tightly pack in the cucumbers, squeeze garlic slices in between the cucumbers.
4. Carefully pour the cooled brine over your cucumbers, make sure they are covered completely (you should have a little over 4.5 cups of brine after boiling and cooling with a bit left over), place dill sprigs on the top of the jar before sealing very well.
5. Turn and shake jar until the pickling seasoning has evenly distributed throughout the brine. Place in refrigerator for at least 48 hours.
If you like your pickles on the saltier side, you can add a bit more salt to your brine. You can also omit the red chili pepper flakes and garlic if you aren’t a fan of the heat and garlicky flavor. This is a pretty basic recipe, so if you want to get crazy try out some other spices or flavors and add it to your brine. I think my next batch will have red peppers and white peppercorn instead of black peppercorn, we shall see!
Cheers & until next time happy pickling!