Recycled benches and pickles

1 June 2009
I am sure I have the most generous readers here. Thanks to all the experienced gardeners who have offered to mentor our inexperienced gardeners. Michelle, thanks for your comment. I'll partner you with Jules in Alabama. Jules would you contact Michelle please. I just have one more request for Nicci in Sydney who would like a permaculture mentor. If you can help, let me know. And that's it for the garden mentors for now. We might do it again later in the year but for now, the offer is closed.

It was a lonely old place here on the weekend. I took Alice for a walk, wrote a lot, made some pickled cucumbers, vacuumed the floors, did some washing and had a long talk on the phone with my good friend Diane, whose daughter Casey (my god daughter) is back in hospital after collapsing last week. Casey is in her early 20s and was hit by a drunk driver about two years ago. She still struggles to walk, her career in child care is over and at the very time she should be looking forward to a happy life, she's flat on her back in the spinal unit of a big city hospital. It's so sad.

Hanno renovated the benches he found on the side of the road last week. I have a series of photos of them as they progressed through his skilled hands.

On arrival, fresh from the roadside.

Old timbers removed, metal sanded back and repainted.

New timbers going on.

And here they are! Two benches for the front garden. They're sitting on the front verandah at the moment and will be put out in time for the wedding (which is only a few weeks away now).

I make these bread and butter pickles all the time and usually have at least one jar of them in the fridge. They're cold packed pickles so if you have no preserving/canning experience or equipment, you can still make them. They're a good first recipe to try your hand at if you want to make some of your own preserves and pickles.

Slice the cucumbers really thin, these were cut on a mandolin. Add some thin sliced onions to the bowl. Pour over three tablespoons of good salt and mix it in so the salt is covering most of the cucumbers and onions. Let this sit for 3 - 4 hours to allow the liquid to run out of the vegetables then place it all in a colander and wash the salt off. Allow them to remain in the colander to drain while you make the pickling liquid.

Place 350 ml (12ozs) cider or white wine vinegar, 350g (12.5ozs) sugar, 2 level tablespoons mustard seed, 2 level tablespoons celery seed, ½ level teaspoon turmeric, ¼ level teaspoon cayenne pepper in a saucepan and bring to the boil. I threw in a hand full of onion and a whole red chilli into my pickling liquid as well. Use the best vinegar you have, not the cleaning vinegar. ;- )

When the liquid has simmered for a minute or so, turn off the heat. Get some recycled jars - yes, it's fine to use them for this, make sure they're not chipped and that the lids are in good condition, clean them thoroughly and then stand them in your sink and pour boiled water in them. With a tea towel, pick up one jar, pour out the water and add some cucumbers, right up to the top of the jar. When all the jars are full, pour the pickling liquid into a jug and then into each jar, making sure the liquid covers all the cucumbers.

Put the lids on the jars and allow them to sit on the bench to cool completely. When they're cool, store them in the fridge. Leave them to mature for about 3 - 4 weeks. before eating They should last for at least 3 - 4 months in the fridge. The vinegar helps prevent bacteria from growing.

These pickles are really delicious with cheese, on sandwiches or in a salad. BTW, if you have any pickling liquid left over like I did, put it in a jar and use it as salad dressing. I have a previous post about these pickles here.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. It seems to be a busy time for many people so don't forget to take care of yourself while you work. I'm looking forward to a full and productive week. I hope yours is a good one too.

ADDITION: Nicci in Sydney, Chookie has offered to mentor you. Please add your email address to the comments so she can contact you.


  1. Rhonda,

    Just wanted to say again that I do love your blog. It's like visiting with an old friend every time I read your posts.

    I have a quick question - I participated in the tea towel/potholder swap but never received a package from my swap mate. I've tried e-mailing her but no response. Don't worry about me but I thought you might want to know.


  2. love this recipe. i have made coldpack pickles for years and it is a good way for someone new at canning to start out. if you have extra juice or even after you have eaten the pickles and don't want to throw the juice away.....make pickled eggs. just hard boil some eggs and put them in a clean jar and pour the pickle juice over them and put the lid on tight. put them in the refrigerator and in a day or two...pickled eggs!!!! if i have lots of onions on hand, i sometimes just slice raw onions and put them in the juice. these are great on sandwiches.

  3. Thanks so much for this. I haven't ever made bread and butter pickles before, but these look wonderful, and I look forward to trying them!

    I have also really appreciated your blog as I have discovered it recently, and have already begun doing things like crocheting my own dishcloth and a hat for my son, who will be born in September!

  4. Hi Charlene, I'm really sorry you didn't receive your swap. I'll talk to Sharon about it, she may have heard from your partner. Thank you for being so understanding. We do understand that life sometimes intervenes and a partner might have to withdraw from the swap, but not sending an email to explain is rude.

    Great ideas, Jaz, thanks for sharing them.

    Hi Jenni, welcome. I'm pleased you're crocheting for your family. Congratulations on the new baby.

  5. Good morning Rhonda,

    Will print this out and add to my recipes. Yes, we seem to be really busy as well at present. Have a great week

    Blessings Gail

  6. Rhonda,
    thanks so very much for giving me a recipe for something like this.
    I absolutely love bread and butter pickles but have no canning experience.
    I do remember making pickled peppers years ago when my husband and I lived together but I believe he did the research etc.
    I have learned so much from your blog in my quest for simple living.
    I have 6 tomato plants that I am daily fussing over.
    Thanks so much for the encouragement and guidance.
    God bless,

  7. Rhonda, just wanted to tell you I have tried the pickles (2 batches) and also the tomato relish. We loved both. You can find recipes anywhere but yours seem to be just right and your instructions are what make it so nice for me. I compared my tomato relish with the color of yours and yep, they looked just right. Every step is explained along the way. Tomatoes, onions, pepers & cucumbers are just now coming off here in Texas. It is hot and dry. Looking forward to Fall and cooler weather. Thanks again, Pat/Texas

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    I will be trying to make those pickles very soon. I'm fairy new to your blog and I love it. You have som great tips for simple living.

  9. Hello Rhonda,

    Great job Hanno did on the benches. Your posts over the last week on gardening have been wonderfully helpful.

    This year our citrus trees have had the best crops ever. We have three mandarins, three oranges, two lemons and a grapefruit tree. I think the rains that we have had at the right time have had a big impact. The amount of juice in the fruit is incredible. Have made some lemon and orange cordial and will freeze excess juice for summer. Plenty of bananas coming on too.

    Have not had a lot of success with my tomatoes, plenty of greenery but not much fruit. Probably too much nitrogen. Will get some potash next time I go to town. Thanks for that information.

    Have a good week.

    Cheers! Karen near Bundaberg.

  10. Rhonda, Just had to tell you how pleased I am to see some of Hannos work on your page. My husband who is clever at renovating and making new out of old enjoys studying the blog when Hanno is featured.He did a great job with the bench seats.

  11. Mmmm sweet pickle on cheese sandwiches. Perfect. Everything is blowing away here in Colorado at the moment. I've had to close all the windows on the west side of the house. My husband went fishing up the creek and I'm afraid he's blown away.

    I'm supposed to be one of Sharon's angels (fancy ME being an angel) so have Charlene or Sharon contact me about that dishtowel swap:)

  12. Hurray! For Hanno's benches, they look great.
    Chance and Rois

  13. Rhonda,
    Thank you for the pickle recipe and always having such inspiring and informative info on your blog. I was wondering if you also had a sweet pickle recipe. I haven't found one yet that my hubby likes and his mom does not have her mother's recipe(which is the one he remembers and loves).
    Thank you again for such a wonderful blog.


  14. Your hubby did a fabulous job on the benches! That is a pet project of mine, finding old things and making them beautiful again.
    MMMMM homemade mom did them for us as kids, I have never tried making them myself though...I really ought to, all my kids love them.
    Thanks again for another GREAT post!

  15. Hi Rhonda, I love bread and butter pickles, yummy! It reminds me of my mother so much. I was wondering if you have ever pickled jalapeno peppers like this? My son had eaten some a few years back and wants his wife to make some (or his mommy) but didn't know if you would make them the same way. I was also wondering if you need to use canning salt (non-iodized) with these? I am trying to remember what my mother said about canning salt vs. table salt. I wasn't sure if it's different in Australia then here. Sorry for so many questions. Oops, lol, one more. How is your sisters's house? Have a great week, give Alice a hug from Texas, Elaine

  16. Hi Rhonda
    Hanno's benches have come out really well. My DH was most impressed, he loves a recycle job. Most of the stuff on our allotment is made out of something else.

    My DH travels a fair bit in his work and it's like a bit of me is missing when he's away.


  17. The pickles look great. We are just planted our cucumber seeds up here in nothern Vermont. Love your blog.
    Warm wishes,

  18. Fantastic Australian Story on the ABC tonight - domestic gardening practices are being reintroduced to our farms (about time). Watch out Monsanto! It should be available to watch under the previous episodes link in the next week or so, if you didn't catch it tonight. See

  19. These benches are really nice.
    Next week I will try your pickle-recipe.

  20. Yay fantastic - thanks Chookie. and thanks Rhonda for arranging!!!

    Can't ait to get started...

    email is niccis_mailbox(at)

  21. oh yum! Thanks so much Rhonda. My partner is russian and he loves his pickles so will definitely give this a whirl.

    am noticing that I have quite a file of your handy tips building up... just hope I get to them all soon.

  22. The pickles look wonderful, I'll have to give them a try. I was going to suggest pickled eggs with the left over liquid, but I see jaz beat me to it. My 81 year old father just loves them and has enjoyed them even more since I got my own free range chickens and started making them for him with the fresh eggs.
    Thank you for the WONDERFUL ideas you put forth on your blog. I may have said it before, but you truly are a wonderful inspiration for all of us who are trying to go the way of a simple life. Oh and Hanno did a beautiful job on the benches. I am also blessed with a handy husband and am thankful for it.
    I'm sorry to hear about the ill health of your god-daughter. I will add her to my prayer list. Such a shame that she is the one to suffer from the poor decision of another. Blessings. Kathy in TN, USA.

  23. I learned how to knit. Thank you so much for running this site. I read somethng new everyday and I am always learnng.

    God Bless

  24. Dear Rhonda,

    I truly enjoy your blog! Thank you for the wealth of information you provide :)

    Hanno did a wonderful job on the benches. They came out just beautiful!

    The pickles look delicious. I am going to have to try using a chili pepper in mine for a little zest :)

    Thank you again and have a glorious day!


  25. Rhonda,
    I've finally done it!! I went back to the beginning to start reading your blog and I'm finally up to NOW! I've so enjoyed it and all the wisdom you impart on the rest of us. I'm a poor multitasker, so I've appreciated you saying it is alright NOT to be successful at spreading yourself too thin. The pressure to do that is incredible sometimes. I DO want to enjoy life right now and not watch it fly by the window as I WHIZZ away to do 3 more things before I can enjoy doing what makes me happy. Thanks for keeping homemaking a labor of love.
    Karen in New York state, USA!!
    justtwiddlin at

  26. Hanno did a wonderful job on the benches. I love to recycle something old into something new. Great find!

    I am going to try your pickle recipe. I can almost smell the spices! I have canned relishes before, but always a hot bath. This will be fun for a hot day-the kind of day you do not want to introduce any heat into your kitchen!


  27. Great job on the benches Hanno! The pickles look delicious Rhonda. Thanks for the recipe.

  28. Hanno did a fantastic job on the benches! I wish I could find something like those on a curb.

    Have a great day! :)

  29. This is fantastic! I have too many cucumbers to eat them all up daily but not enough to justify a full-out canning session! Thanks.

  30. I want to try the pickles, how much cucumbers did you start with?
    The benches look amazing, and someone was throwing them away.

  31. I love your blog. I'm going to try your pickles as soon as my cucumbers are ripe in the garden. Thank you!

  32. The pickles look delicious! I can't wait to try to make them :-)

    Something else to add to my "list" of things to learn and do on my suburban homestead.

  33. Hi Rhonda: I am definately going to give this recipe a try but have one question before I give this an attempt.

    In just about all recipes I try to cut back on the amount of sugar used. Could I cut the amount of sugar in half and still have everything turn out?

  34. My mouth watered just reading about these!

    New to your blog via The Kitchen Playground. I'm enjoying perusing the site.





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