Shawn & Sophia's pre-pickle harvest
Shawn & Sophia’s pre-pickle harvest

Most hospital staff spend a good portion of their days washing, scrubbing and otherwise sanitizing their hands. So naturally, the exact opposite becomes a whole lot of fun (in our spare time, not while performing surgery). Meet the UHN Real Food Garden Team, a wonderful group that regularly gets our hands dirty.

Ana gets some harvesting help from her daughter
Ana gets some harvesting help from her daughter

Most of the time, we take turns going to our few square meters of paradise to weed, water and watch it grow. Now is when it all comes together for harvest time. The only problem is that sometime you have too much of a good thing – in our case, a ton of tomatoes that needed to be used before they compost themselves or get bitten by frost. So we take a stab at immortality for our veggies.

Geremy teaches the ins and outs of pickling
Geremy teaches the ins and outs of pickling

We gathered garden side last night and our master chef and gardener, Geremy taught us how to take some of our gorgeous seed-to-feed produce and pickle it. We didn’t have a lot of time, so it was a Quick Pickle, or a Quickle (patent pending). On a handy picnic table, Geremy laid out the key ingredients for us to put in our mason jars:

  • vinegar (we used cider vinegar, but there are other good choices)
  • spice blend (ours included peppercorns, mustard seed, coriander seed, dill seed, chili flakes, and allspice – and maybe something else, I can’t remember now).
  • Our pick of veggies: tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, peppers
  • dill weed or fennel tops
I tried not to spill the brine while Geremy prepped another jar.
I tried really hard not to spill the brine. Cooking Success! (for once)

While we put the veggies in the jars, he heated the vinegar and spice blend on a camping stove. Once the flavours melded together, it was time to pour. I was expecting a little more rocket science to this, but it was pretty easy. Not a single soul had a special kitchen accident (I was sure that would be my contribution to the evening). Best yet, we all got to take home our jars and feel like mini-Martha Stewarts while we’re at it. The only challenge will be to wait a whole week for the Quickle to peak in flavour.

Rossini & Shawn with their masterpiece Quickle jars
Rossini & Shawn with their masterpiece Quickle jars

There are only a few more weeks left in the garden, since seasons inevitably change (sniff). This year’s harvest is next year’s seedling.

Till then, happy planting!  


To volunteer for the UHN Real Food Garden for spring 2014, contact Geremy Capone