I needed some more veggies to try to tackle a variety of the canning recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book while the ingredients were still in season. I couldn’t get to a farmers market today but someone reminded me of all the various road side stands and small markets selling local produce. Normally, I can’t get to these places as I don’t have a car. However, I have access to a car this week so I went on a veggie hunt after work today. I stocked up on a variety of local produce but several recipes require some overnight prep. Miss Kimmel’s recipe for Sweet Cucumber Pickles can be made in a few hours. I’m making a half batch since I bought just one basket of cucumbers.
I washed the cucumbers and then peeled them. I cut off the ends and cut them in half. A grapefruit spoon is very handy for scooping out the seeds and soft insides but any spoon will work. Next I sliced the cucumbers in 1/2 inch strips. I boiled the cucumber strips in salt water and then drained them. I next prepared the liquid. I measured two cups of vinegar, 1 1/2 pounds of sugar, 2 small cinnamon sticks, 1/2 ounce of cloves and 1/4 ounce of allspice. I let it come to a boil and then added the cucumber strips. They were a lovely shade of green initially but gradually changed colour as they simmered in the spiced sweet vinegar liquid. I left them alone for two hours although I did check on them every so often to ensure it didn’t boil dry. The house smelled nice and spicy. After two hours I put the strips in sterilized canning jars and poured in the hot liquid (minus the allspice, cloves and cinnamon sticks) till it was 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. The next step depends on whether you are using modern or 1906 style jars but basically you are going to put on sterilized rubber rings or metal lids plus the metal rings which should be screwed on just till finger tight. In 1906 the jars would then be left to cool and the seal tested the next day. Modern methods encourage a 10 minute hot water bath and then leave the jars to cool. I left a few strips out for tasting once cool.
Miss Kimmel is probably one of the unmarried daughters of John and Caroline Kimmel. The 1901 census shows them living with their two sons and five daughters. There’s Carrie (39), Amelia (35), Ottilie (33), Clara (31), and Grace (18). Amelia works in a book store and Grace is a tailoress. By the 1911 census just two of the girls are living with their parents at 137 Frederick street but another possibility is 37-year-old Katy who lives with her brother and widowed mother at 9 Spring Street. Katy works as a seamstress.
Miss Kimmel’s Sweet Cucumber Pickles remind me a bit of the icicle pickles of my childhood. cucumber strips shrink a lot so this recipe doesn’t make as much as you might think. I’m not a pickle fan but these are okay. The biggest disappointment is that they are limp. Don’t expect a traditional pickle but they are worth trying.
SWEET CUCUMBER PICKLES
Take ripe cucumbers, cut out the inside, pare and slice in strips 1 inch wide. Take seven pounds of this, boil in salt water until tender; then drain. In a porcelain kettle put 1 quart of vinegar, 3 pounds of sugar, 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks, in a cloth tie an ounce of cloves, 1/2 ounce allspice, boil together, then add the cucumber and simmer all 2 hours.