Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The pickles are pickled.

Yes, Mother's 14-day pickles are done. Cliff ate two with dinner and said, "Your time was not wasted!"

Actually, this batch should be called 15-day, cream-of-tartar pickles. Last weekend during the time I was supposed to be putting alum-water on them each day, we went to the lake. I was going to have my daughter babysit my pickles for me, the one day we were gone. Then I said to Cliff, more or less thinking out loud, "How much difference could it make to let them soak for two days in the same alum-water?"

He agreed.

When I got home, I did the final boiling-water-and-alum thing... I thought. Next morning I realized I had put cream of tartar on them instead of alum. They're both white powder, and look identical.

I believe I should have used smaller cucumbers, but all in all, they are crisp and good. I'll be doing this again next year, if the good Lord and I are both willing.

Yesterday I dug out my old pressure canner to can some beets... not pickled beets, these are to use in Harvard beets. Who knows, they might even work in borscht.

Ah, the memories brought back by that big canner. We bought it back around 1970, when it was the sort of expense that put a dent in our budget for weeks. I was so proud to have it.

My canning jars evoke the same feelings. Many of them were passed down by my mom. Some of them are plain old Miracle Whip jars, which supposedly were unsafe. They worked fine for my mother and me, and will still work for me; the old ones, that is. Nowadays they're made of plastic. I also have jars I bought in the '70's, made by manufacturers that sprung up overnight when there was a canning jar shortage.

This was when I had two small children, and I still managed to have huge gardens and can the produce and milk cows. "Mother Earth News" was my bible, and "Organic Gardening" was my catechism. And I thought the "Whole Earth Catalog" was the most wonderful thing I was ever privileged to read. At that time, I wished I had the nerve to be a hippie and join a commune. I'm not sure what I would have done with Cliff had this dream come true. But you know, when you're daydreaming, who cares about the particulars.

I know, I know. Pathetic. I imagine had I been dropped in the middle of a commune, I'd have run screaming for the outside, shocked by the behavior of the inhabitants.

But I digress.

I didn't sleep well last night, and then I did all this canning stuff. My kitchen is a mess; there's sticky sweet-pickle-juice residue all over the counters, the stove, and even the floor. I hope I get it cleaned up this evening, but don't bet on it.

From here on out, the only thing I intend to can is tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes.

As I was typing this entry, a crop dusting airplane circled the house several times.


Pat said...

I love your blog. It reminds me of the way it was when I was a child growing up. The cows, milking, canning, garden, pressure cookers, and those fried green tomatoes looked sooooo good!! Your blog is always a pleasure to read. Have a great evening.

m.v. said...

my parents made tomato juice and stored in the bottles using salt-plugs instead of cork.they also canned pickled tomatoes with aspirin so they didn't have to boil them. I also tried tomato jam but didn't really care for it. we did all kinds of preserves and canned stuff, but at that time things were not available year-round,so it was a necessity

Jess said...

I love garden stuff and my fav is either pickles made from the cucumbers or peeled sliced tomatoes with salt....yum!

You made me hungry!

Love, Jess

Robin said...

I have always wanted to give pickle canning/jar a try....maybe I will get brave!

MissKris said...

My neighbor Sharon spent the weekend canning pickles. She makes some Bread & Butter pickles that are to die for! And, lucky me, she usually always gives me a couple of jars of them. I used to do a lot of canning when we had space for a garden in my early wedded years but our yard here in the city is about the size of a postage stamp. My favorites have always been home-canned green beans!!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

You have been busy there. I know you'll enjoy those things when winter comes. They'll be a treat to remember summer by. Take care and don't over do. 'On Ya'-ma

Lindie said...

I loved Mother Earth News and had a subscription for years. First I just dreamed of living in the country and when I did took all my copies with me.

Robbyn said...

Ah, I was wondering how the pickle endeavor had turned out...I'm glad it was a success! And I'll have to try making some when I'm home enough to keep track of the stages :)