At this time of the year, menu planning on our windjammer is more about what fruit and vegetables need to be used first than about any meals we’ve carefully planned. Boxes overflow with produce from our garden and our CSA (community supported agriculture) share. The shear amount of food coming toward cooks in summer can be an inspiration – or a frightening deluge. Even for veteran cooks, relaxing into this abundance is a challenge. But not an insurmountable one.

My husband and I take some 24 guests at a time sailing with us on multi-day overnight trips on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin all summer in Penobscot Bay. Beginning early on the first day of every trip, the Parade of Local Food commences. It begins in my own garden in Rockland at dawn, where my daughters harvest everything that looks wonderful and ripe and bag it up to send to the boat.

Soon after, the cheese and mushrooms arrive in their brown paper bags from the farmers market. The CSA share arrives in boxes and bags. Before you know it, our tiny galley kitchen is overflowing with greens and root vegetables, but they don’t actually fit anywhere because the refrigerator is already crammed with local milk, meat and fish.

This is always a very stressful morning for Cassie, my assistant cook, whose job it is to stow the bounty without crushing it. Our conversations typically go something like this:

Cassie: “I’m telling you. It’s NOT. Going. To fit.”

Me (blithely ):”I believe in you. Make it fit.”

I do believe and it does eventually fit. Still, I don’t envy Cassie her task.

Once we have stashed all of this produce in our kitchens, what to do with it? As with any big job, the trick is to break it down into smaller parts. Begin by thinking about how to use the most perishable ingredients. Greens are usually the first to go into my meals; any I don’t use immediately get washed, dried and packed with towels to absorb any excess moisture.

Next we deal with anything that we have WAY too much of to use up in one sailing trip. While they are still fresh and bright tasting, such ingredients get processed and preserved. Basil become pesto. Tomatoes are sliced, roasted and packed in oil; cucumbers and other vegetables are turned into pickles.

Only then do I turn my attention to the root vegetables and other produce with a longer shelf life.

Little makes me sadder than to see vegetables go bad or lie unused before the next shipment overflows my kitchen. Because my crew and I cook for a living, processing these ingredients is just another to-do item on our never-ending list. But for home cooks, one solution could be to set aside an evening per week to process the berries, tomatoes, zucchini, etc. as they roll in throughout the summer.

Also, the freezer is a wonderful way to quickly preserve berries, whole tomatoes and any vegetable that can be blanched. (We don’t have a freezer on the J. & E. Riggin, so that’s not an option for us. )

Or eat them – I’ve taken to making greens and eggs for breakfast most mornings. (Take that Sam-I-Am!) An extra daily serving of veggies never hurt anyone.

By the time we’ve diligently worked our way through the mountain of produce, one trip is over and it’s time for another to begin. Maybe this trip, we’ll be transforming raspberries into jam, zucchini into quick bread or leeks into relish. It’s part of the magic of summer; you never know where the produce will lead you.

This recipe is just one of a hundred ways to preserve the bounty of summer. The key ingredients are the brine solution and time. And the sky – or rather the earth and garden – are the limits to what sort of pickles you make.


I use a smaller Ball jar filled with water to weigh down the vegetables to ensure they are covered with the brine; submerging the vegetables is essential. A skin may form on the top of the brine. Remove it with a spoon or tiny strainer – it’s normal. If, however, the vegetables poke up out of the brine and begin to mold, discard the jar.

Makes about 6 cups of pickles


21/2 tablespoons sea salt

1 cup hot water, plus 3 cups cold water


2 fennel bulbs (fronds removed and reserved), cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

11/2 pounds radishes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 pound radish greens, large stems removed

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

To make the brine, dissolve the salt in the hot water. Once it has dissolved, stir in the remaining 3 cups water.

To make the pickles, combine all the ingredients in a large, 1/2-gallon ball jar. Pour the brine over the vegetables, taking care to completely cover them.

Let the jar sit on the counter for several days. Smell and taste to see if the vegetables are sour enough for you. If not, let sit no more than 5 days on the counter or they will get too soft. Remove any skin that develops on the surface. Refrigerate. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for at least 6 months.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “Sugar and Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.” She blogs at and can be reached at:

[email protected]

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