What do you do with the extra cucumbers from the garden when you can’t possibly eat them all? You pickle them, of course.
Many locals have been pickling not just cucumbers but garlic, beets and other goods. It’s a tradition that has been passed down with secret family recipes and surprising ingredients. And with cucumbers and other vegetables getting ripe in most gardens around the Valley, now is the perfect time to get out your Mason jars and vinegar.
“I learned from my mother-in-law who made the most amazing pickles,” said 81-year-old Dorothy Carson of Buhl. “It took a while to get the knack for making great pickles.”
Like Carson, pickling has been a common interest between generations for June Hill of Gooding, who learned to pickle from her mother. Hill now sells some of her pickled produce at various farmers markets around the valley.
However you make your pickles, you are likely to find that pickling isn’t just for cucumbers. Many local folks pickle green beans, garlic, beets, carrots and onions.
“I just really like the dill flavor,” said Don Friel Hagerman, who admitted his dilly bean stores are getting dangerously low.
Cindy Heiken of Dietrich also makes dilly beans, but she has begun to experiment with other veggies.
“I’ve done asparagus and carrots and garlic,” Heiken said. “I planned on using the garlic for sauces, but they were so good we just eat them out of the jar.”
So what does an avid pickler do with a storeroom full of pickles anyway? Many passionate pickle makers around the Magic Valley sell them at farmers markets, while others give them away.
“Once you’ve got things stocked up, you can just go into the pantry and pick out a gift for an anniversary or party,” Heiken said.
Depending on the recipe, pickles can take weeks or months to be ready. That means that they are at their pickled perfection right around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Who wouldn’t want a homemade jar of pickles at their holiday party?
“My kids all think they are wonderful,” Carson said.
Pickles are something to share all year long, said Sally Overton of Twin Falls who has been pickling for about eight years.
“If my family wants pickles, they know where to get them,” Overton said.