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This summer has brought us a plentiful bounty of produce. Our tomato vines run rampant and free, flowing over and down our retaining wall. Their fruit suspended like Christmas orbs a midst a sea of branches. In one sunny corner, a zucchini plant thrives, its large graceful leaves shadowing the slender green thumbs below. The cucumber vines flourished  with zeal, out competing even the pumpkins. Their petite yellow blooms sprinkle the vine, providing clues to the location of camouflaged fruit beneath.

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Every couple of days, I take my little basket and a sharp knife and wander out back in search of new growth. The vines are so extensive now that I truly have to forage for goodies. Bright red tomatoes are easy to spot but sometimes harder to reach. The zucchinis require careful maneuvering of their large leaves and spiky stalks. And cucumbers are only discovered by peeking diligently under each leaf. It is a wonderful new routine. A time to soak up the sun, feel the soft grass beneath my feet and be grateful for what nature has provided.

Predominantly I use the cucumbers, roughly chopped in salads. Or otherwise blend them into green smoothies. But with so many I thought I might as well give preserving them a try. This recipe is from the wonderful book Nourishing Traditions (details in the library). Simple and quick to prepare, all that is required is a dash of patience while the jar matures. The cucumber softens as it releases its juices but retains a crunchy bite for textural pleasure. The fresh dill provides a floral beginning and the mustard seeds give it a little kick to finish. I’m envisioning them on open toasted sandwiches with labna and freshly parsley or aside poached eggs for brekky. There will be a thousand uses I’m sure.

Hope you enjoy.

Nicola

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Preserved Cucumbers
Makes a 1L jar – Recipe from Nourishing Traditions

Notes
Whey is simple enough to make and is easily frozen for future use. Alternatively use 1 extra tbsp of salt.

Ingredients
5 cucumbers1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp whey
1 C filtered water

Directions
1. Chop cucumbers into 1cm thick slices (or your preferred size) and place in glass jar.
2. Mix together all other ingredients and pour over the cucumbers.
3. If necessary add a little more water to cover but make sure that the top of the liquid is at least one inch below the top of the jar as the cucumbers will release some of their own liquid.
4. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for three days before transferring to the fridge.

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