Last week I pickled the gherkins that I had picked from my polytunnel.
Gherkins, are sometimes know by their french name of ‘cornichons’.
My gherkins were a little bit too big (as I hadn’t noticed them growing so quickly), so I chopped mine in half. Usually I pick gherkins when they are between 4-8cm long.
Gherkins are grown in the same way as outdoor cucumbers. They look a bit like small cucumbers but they are a little bit prickly. I sowed mine on a window sill in the middle of April and planted them out later in my polytunnel, after hardening them off first. Frost will kill cucumber and gherkin plants.
The variety I grew this year was ‘bimboster’ and so far they have been really good. My outdoor cucumbers are not moving this year due to the cold and wet weather, so I suspect that if I’d planted my gherkins outdoors, they would have been the same.
It is really easy to pickle gherkins and they are very tasty:
First I wash the gherkins and chop the ends off.
Then I completely cover them in salt and mix them up a bit, to make sure they are all covered completely. Then I leave them over night as this draws the water out. You will be amazed how much water there is in the morning.
Some recipes use a salt water brine but I feel this gives a ‘soggier’ feel to the gherkins.
The next day, wash the salt off the gherkins and thoroughly dry them on some kitchen towel.
Sterilise your glass jars and tops by placing them in your oven Gas 4 / 350F / 176 C, for 5 minutes. Then allow to cool.
Place your gherkins in the jars and pour over your pickling vinegar, which you can either make yourself or buy from supermarkets ready for use.
Make sure there are no air bubbles (twisting the jars or tapping the sides helps to release them).
Put the tops on the jars and label.
Leave for two weeks before eating them.
Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…
Today I am focusing on Bicarbonate of soda .
Bicarbonate of soda is also known as Sodium bicarbonate, bicarb, and sometimes baking soda. It is best known for how good it is at deodorising smells, as it absorbs odours and neautralises them. It is also abrasive without scratching and will lift any caked on dirt and stains. It is particularly good at absorbing grease. It will also act as a mild disinfectant. If you mix it with vinegar, lemon juice or water it is a great multi-purpose cleaner.
Bicarbonate of soda can be purchased from supermarkets in small amounts but it is cheaper to buy bigger packs from hardware stores e.g Wilkinsons, or on-line.
Below are some ways to use Bicarbonate of soda:
Sprinkle bicarb on a damp cloth and use where you would normally use a cream cleaner i.e. kitchen work surfaces, sinks, baths and tiles and any plastic surfaces. It is particularly good at cleaning stainless steel. Rinse with water afterwards.
Cover oven or hob stains that you have found difficult to remove, with bicarb and leave for a few minutes then wipe away with a damp cloth.
Use bicarb to clean your fridge and freezer by using dry bicarb on a damp cloth.
Clean your oven by mixing bicarb with warm water and then use a scourer to scrub clean. If your oven is particularly bad then leave the paste on overnight.
Sprinkle bicarb on your carpets to freshen them up or to remove general odours or ‘pet’ smells. Leave for 15 minutes and then vacuum the bicarb back off.
Use bicarb to deodorize your dishwasher by sprinkling half a cup of bicarb in the bottom of your dishwasher between loads, if necessary.
Sprinkle bicarb in the bottom of your bins after cleaning to absorb bad smells or wash with a few teaspoons of bicarb mixed with water.
Put a small amount of bicarb in a little pot in your fridge to get rid of lingering food smells. Replace every 1 -2 months.
If your plastic food or drink containers smell then leave them overnight with a little bit of bicarb mixed with warm water. You can also use this for flasks.
Use it to remove crayon marks on your paintwork by putting a small amount of bicarb on a damp cloth and rubbing the marks away.
If you have a cat litter tray then prevent smells from it by covering the bottom of the tray with one part bicarb to two parts cat litter over the top.
To unblock sinks put 1 tablespoon of bicarb down first and then pour 3 tablespoons of vinegar down. It will fizz as they react. Leave for a few minutes then flush it down with boiling water from your kettle. This will remove any build up of food, hair and soap scum.
Oil and grease stains come out of clothes easier if you add half a cup to your washing machine. This will also soften your clothes.
Use a bit of bicarb on a damp cloth to remove tea and coffee stains in cups.
Soak chopping boards, jars, bottles, food and drink containers in a mixture of bicarb and water to remove smells.
You can remove tarnish from silverware with bicarb, use it on a damp cloth.
Pots and pans that have food burnt onto them can be left over night in warm water with a couple of tablespoons of bicarb mixed in.
If you have smelly shoes then sprinkle some bicarb into the shoes and leave over night. This will take the odours away.
To remove the black mould marks on your PVC vindows then mix bicarb into a paste with lemon juice and leave it on for an hour, then wipe away with a damp cloth.
Use bicarb on dirty grills and barbecues by sprinkling over and using a scourer to clean.
To freshen your toilet put two tablespoons of bicarb down your toilet followed by half a cup of vinegar. Allow to fizz then flush it away.
Just to finish off, yesterday I talked about white vinegar and I wanted to show you an example of how it removes limescale. This is my shower head before I cleaned it:
After a quick wipe this morning and a swill with water, it looked like this:
So this is an example of how cheap and easy the old fashioned methods of cleaning can be.
Thanks for reading my post today.