Thursday, January 13, 2011

Liquid Sunshine

High winds and heavy rains have forced me to call a halt to outdoor gardening projects today. This weather is also going to make the daily chore of gathering and chopping firewood a real pain! However, being house-bound means that I can get some of my other projects done. For example, I can get another batch of Cherry-Fennel Granola baking in the oven, and begin collecting and fermenting some more of my cucumber seeds. Saving cucumber seeds is an interesting process: you leave the cukes on the vine until they turn completely yellow and mushy (or, if this isn't an option, you can pick them and leave them in your cellar until the same results occur). Then, you split the mushy cucumber in half, and scoop the seeds out (using a spoon) into a cup or bowl, getting some of the gel & juice in there too (enough to cover the seeds). I generally place a paper towel over the container to keep insects out, and then leave it in a warm place for 2-3 days to allow the fermentation process to take place. Fermenting the seeds (just like you do with tomato seeds) helps break down the germination-inhibiting compounds that are present. Stir the mixture daily. I'll warn you: it's going to smell, and if you see a whitish mold developing, that's ok. Once the fermentation process is finished, pour water into the container, wait a moment for the viable seeds to settle to the bottom, and then slowly pour the water off. With the water will come the gel and other bits of non-seed material, as well as those seeds which are not viable. The good seeds will stay at the bottom of the container - do not pour them out! Keep filling the container with water and pouring it out until all the debris has been poured out and the water is running clear. Then, spread the remaining seeds on a screen somewhere warm but out of the sun and allow them to dry for a few days. Viola! You now have cucumber seeds for next year's planting!

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