Nancy's Simply Pickles - An ACP Spotlight in Sept. 2016
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    Making pickles with home grown fruit and designing a label in Illustrator.
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Part I: The Back Story
This sprawling Japanese cucumber vine is yielding more fruit than we can use at one time. At present, about 3-5 large cukes per day with more on the way. It's time to make some pickles.
Today's harvest. Tomatoes are slated for tonight's Caprese Salad.
I love New York deli pickles (aka kosher or barrel pickles). In my world, there is nothing finer than a cold crisp, garlicky dill pickle.
Kirby Pickling Cucumbers
Recipes typically call for the shorter, chubby pickling cukes called Kirby or Persian. If you procure cucumbers from your local farmer's market or grocery store, those are the ones to look for. That said, I'm using the longer Japanese variety from my garden.
1 Case of Mason Jars -- Kerr or Ball brand
I purchased 12 wide mouth, pint size mason jars for about $9/case. Many local stores (Smart & Final, Walmart, WinCo) carry them year-round. They are also available on Amazon.com.

I washed the jars & lids in warm soapy water and let them dry. Optionally, you could run them through your dishwasher.
Ingredients assembled, it's pickling time.
Basic Brine Recipe (48 oz):
For 3-4 lbs cucumbers
     - 4 Cups filtered water
     - 2 Cups distilled white vinegar - 5% acidity
     - 3 Tbsp kosher or coarse white sea salt.
     - NOTE: salt additives will discolor pickles. Don't use table salt.
     - 1 tsp sugar (optional)

Combine above items in a pan and bring to a full boil. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids. Off heat and allow mixture to cool on stove.

To each pint size jar, add:
    - 1 or 2 cloves fresh garlic (peeled and sliced lengthwise),
    - 1 fresh dill flower head and/or a generous shake of dried dill weed & seeds
    - a pinch of mustard seeds

Optional additions:
    - 1 crushed bay leaf
    - a pinch of crushed chili pepper flakes
    - a few coriander seeds
    - 2-3 whole peppercorns

Scrub cucumbers well. Cut off flower & stem ends. Slice into equal sized spears. Scrape off excess seeds if desired.  Pack jars tightly with cucumbers. Top with brine. Cover jars with lids & bands. Store pickles upright in refrigerator up to 3 months. Pickles are cured in 5-7 days. But the longer they cure, the better they taste.
Pickles topped with brine
Part II - The Drama
My husband is skeptical of anything that doesn't look store bought. He loves my cooking but the last time I made pickles, well... er... let's just say he resisted until I sufficiently coerced him into trying them.
The Angst of Man
Incidentally, the pickles tasted great! My only mistake was using a makeshift label. Masking tape and Sharpie™ pen didn't go over too well. This time, I needed something better.
Part III - The Labels
I fired up Illustrator CC 2015 and opened a Letter document from the Start window. To get things rolling, I laid down some random ideas and basic wording. I used the Ellipse tool +Shift to draw a circle. Then added some text with the Text on Path tool.
After tweaking some more with Stroke, Fill and Font Sizes, I decided to add a rectangle & ditch the cucumber image. But I liked the shape of the individual slices and wondered how I might incorporate that into this project.
Next, I opened the Labels Template: Go to File > New from Template.

On my Windows 10 computer, Templates are located in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CC 2015\Cool Extras\en_US\Templates\Blank Templates\Labels.ait. If you're on a Mac, look in your Applications folder.
Labels Template
I chose the 2 x 3 grid shown above with my selection tool & hit Ctrl+C to copy. I then pasted it with Ctrl+V into a new Letter document and closed out the template.

Now that I had actual dimensions to work with, I could build my label to an appropriate scale.
Next, I selected the artwork above and copy/pasted into the 5 remaining grids.
Full sheet of 6 labels
Label printed, trimmed and affixed to an empty mason jar with clear plastic tape.
I brought "Nancy's Simply Pickles" to a picnic and they were an instant hit.  I'll be making these again real soon.