Pickles: Where it all began
It all began with homemade pickles. Now my family has canned everything from beet greens to venison to grape jelly. Last year we canned 337 quarts of food. (The reason I know this is because as scientists, we keep records in our “canning log” of course!) One winter my husband spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s building custom shelving in the “canning room” to store the 800 plus jars.
Now my husband won’t even touch a store-bought pickle, unless you count him pulling it off a restaurant burger. What’s so great about homemade? He loves the crunch and flavor that can’t be matched. Find a recipe and give it a try and you be the judge.
Due to limited garden space, we opt to support the local farmer’s market rather than grow a field of pickles to can. Here in the Wausau area, we’re spoiled to have such great farmer’s markets that are a bargain. When I walk around, everything looks so yummy that I have to hold back and not buy items that we have in our own garden.
We plan ahead every year, checking our vinegar inventory and selecting a night we can make them that day to ensure the freshest pickles possible. As soon as we bring them home, we soak and scrub them and pack them into jars. My husband concocts the brine with his “special” ingredients that he only lets his closest circle in on. I gather garlic and dill from our garden, making sure to always leave a few sprigs of dill to self-sow for the following year.
After all the ingredients and brine are added in, my husband works methodically on sealing the jars and loading the hot water bath. The aroma of fresh dill and garlic fill the kitchen. This year I was happy to take the extra brine as natural weed killer for our driveway. It worked surprisingly well and much safer since I wouldn’t advise drinking Round-Up!
After the timer rings, he pulls out each jar and the smile on his face grows as he admires the bright green morsels. He proudly lines them up on the counter to cool and then again in the refrigerator. He patiently waits for three months as these morsels grow in flavor. Then when the moment arrives, he has us all gather around for the first pop, followed by the sharp crunch that cannot be matched. The children ask for one then another, as if they were candy.
If you ask him, even though they cost more and require a whole night of work, he wouldn’t go another way – every minute and every cent is worth the taste that cannot be matched. Is there something that you make that you’ll never go back to store-bought? Comment below - we’d love to hear from you!