Thursday, August 4, 2016

It's A Pickle Party In Puyallup

I'd have to say that honestly I am pretty content living in Iowa. There is a lot of cool stuff here. Incredible pork. The world famous state fair. All the corn you could ever want. One hundred wineries and growing, plus an impressive collection of breweries. Gourmet restaurants and foodie events. Templeton Rye. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches. Yes, I would say that this is my happy place. Recently I heard about a very unique business in Washington state that spoke to my heart and my love of home canning and quick pickling. How about a cucumber farm that not only sells cucumbers grown on the premises but offers pickling parties? I am sooo there !!! Well....I wish anyway.

So what is this farm called? Where is it? What is this all about? Tamara Harden, who lives in Puyallup, Washington, shared this story with me, about Duris Cucumber Farm, a very unique business that's part farm, part store and part pickle factory in Puyallup. I visited the company's website and learned all about the history of this business and how it all started back in the mid-50s when Hazel Duris asked her husband Al to help her get a garden started. She wanted to grow cucumbers for pickles, as well as other fresh vegetables. Like so many gardeners experience, Hazel soon had cucumbers in abundance and began selling her extra produce. Little by little their garden plot grew into a farm, now operated by their children. The farm's chief crop is pickling cukes and with that, everything you need to make pickles. The farm also features a shop where you can find everything you need to make fresh quick pickles- spices, jars, cookbooks, vinegars, and of course, the cucumbers. They even have cute labels and twine for your finished pickles, as well as pre-made canned and pickled foods and other cute canning-themed items for you to purchase.

Customers make their selections from different sizes and
varieties of farm fresh pickling cucumbers.
Every Saturday the farm's shop has a pickling demonstration. They teach customers the cold-pack method, what I call quick pickles or fridge pickles- fresh cucumbers, spices, pickling brine, and no heat processing. These are not shelf-stable pickles- they go into the fridge, and believe me, the best pickles are made this way- always crisp and crunchy. Their recipe is featured on the website and interestingly, they use two sizes of cucumbers in each jar. Just looking at all the pictures made me crave pickles!

The shop features pre-packaged spice mixtures for
different types of pickles- so easy!
Let's talk about this pickle party. Tamara tells me it's a ton of fun and very versatile- you can come just by yourself or bring friends (up to 23 people per party). You just schedule a time and when you get there, they have everything you need on a tray for each party-goer. You get the jars, a paring knife, one grape leaf per jar, sliced onion, sliced red pepper, fresh dill, garlic cloves, spices, and a label for your jar. 

What an awesome setup, all ready for the Pickle Partiers
The center of the table is piled with different sizes of pickling cucumbers. The first thing you do is choose your cukes and fill your jar, then you return to your tray, remove the cucumbers from the jar and get ready to pickle. 
Shaking those pickles!
The instructor walks you through each step, how to add ingredients to your jar and in what order, and you make your jars of pickles, topping with the pickling brine. The cost of the class is per jar- $8 for quarts and $6.50 for pints, and you can make one jar or many many jars- totally up to you. This sounds like so much fun!

They even sell commercial mixes for people who want to
make pickles with a minimum of fuss and measuring.
Luckily for those of us who don't live nearby, the Duris Farm shares their pickle recipe on their website. Let's make some Duris Cold Pack Refrigerator Dills. For each quart jar you will need:

(add in order)
1 grape leaf
1 stalk fresh dill wound in a small circle
3 peeled cloves of garlic
1/8 sliced white onion
3 teaspoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons mustard seed
15 whole black peppercorns
1/2 to 1 dried red chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon alum
1/4 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 slice sweet red bell pepper (place against the side of the jar)
5 medium cucumbers, blossom end removed
2-3 small cucumbers, blossom end removed
1/2 cup of 5% apple cider vinegar

Fill the jar to 1/2 inch headspace with tap water. Top with a lid and ring, tighten, and shake to dissolve the powders. Store in the refrigerator. Pickles will be ready to enjoy in 3-4 3 weeks. Enhanced flavor is achieved by allowing them to cure in the fridge longer.

Pickle jars in every size and color!
How easy is that? I am a huge fan of fridge pickles- no need to drag out the big bulky canning pots and I can make every jar a little different. The pickles are always so much crisper and fresher than heat processed pickles and they retain their color better too.

Tamara is a big supporter of local producers and frequents the produce stands all over her area. She tells me the Puyallup Valley has some of the most fertile soils anywhere as well the areas surrounding eastern Washington, which is a huge agricultural area. Tamara likes keeping in touch with local growers so she gets a heads up on great deals so she can preserve fresh foods for her family at home, and is an avid home canner. She really loved sharing the Pickle Party with her granddaughters. Maybe they will be the next generation of home food preservers!

Abby and Tamara show us each step
**All the photos in this story were taken by Tamara on her recent visit to the farm.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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