Chatting to a neighbour and friend in the Bar last night, Annick is originally from Belgium and had been reading this Blog with interest,so she has decided that she would also like to Blog about her love of herbs and their uses.  I think it's a great idea, and would showcase the different varieties of herbs we have growing here in the Alpujarra region of Andalucia.  Because the air is thinner at this altitude, our village is 1114m above sea level, the plants are more concentrated and herbs in particular are extremely fragrant and potency levels are higher.

Now that Spring is here, the flora and fauna are showing everywhere, such a short season but worth it for the Orchids, Lavender, Thyme and wild Fennel. Also sorrell is abundant at the moment, great in salads, soup, and with fish for it's lemony tang.  Next will be the flowers on the caper bush, the edible buds can be preserved for the rest of the year in oil or dried in salt.
One could live quite happily from the land here for free, and I wish I was brave enough to choose the fungi!

Of course the trick with produce here is to make the most of  a 'glut' and preserving is very important.  You don't need any canning apparatus, just some sterilized jars, and a supply of oil, salt and sugar usually means we have a well stocked larder.  Last year I pickled some cucumbers with vinegar, turmeric,  sugar and dill seed, they were crunchy and tasty, everyone wanted them so I lost my supply to gifts - never mind - I am a fan of the barter system! 

So, off to prune vines today, and I shall have a good look and see what free food I can bring home with me, the only bit I hate about todays job are the rather large spiders!

Here is the pickle recipe:
Aplogies as it's a bit long winded but worth it, you can do it while  doing something else, much of it is time spent waiting.

3.2kg cucumbers, trimmed and sliced
125 ml sea salt
mix of celery seeds, dill seeds, allspice, a cinnamon stick
bag of sugar
1.5 l vinegar (white is best but I use red wine vinegar as it's all I can get)
half teaspoon turmeric

Place all the cucumbers in a glass bowl.
In a large stainless steel pan put half the salt, and 6L water, boil it up to dissolve the salt and ladle it over the cucumbers. Cover and leave to stand for 8 hours.

You can repeat this stage  but it's not necessary.

drain, discard brine, prick the cucumbers with a toothpick and place them back in the bowl.

add three cups of the sugar, the seeds, 750ml of the vinegar turmeric and cinnamon.
Bring it to a boil to dissolve the sugar then ladle over the cucumbers and weigh it down.

Drain reserving the liquid this time, boil up the liquid with the rest of the vinegar and sugar, and pour over the cucumbers in clean sterilized jars, put them on a wooden board to stop them cracking, fasten lids loosely and when just warm tighten them up.  Leave for a day or two if you can resist!