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?"
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.