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Friday, August 29, 2008

In a Pickle?

My favorite friend and fellow rabble rouser in nursing school struggled with her weight. Her mom always used to tell her if she needed something to snack on, to "grab a pickle." She's right. It's a good snack, the salty sourness is satisfying and they're extremely low in calories.

Wandering the Tuesday Farmer's Market, Young One spotted a bushel basket full of beautiful, tiny cucumbers. "Who would want all of those?" he asked. I explained to him that this time of year, people were canning and that pickles could actually be made at home. He thought that sounded like incredible fun and tried to convince me to purchase them right then and there. Knowing that canning takes time and quite a bit of work and that that enormous amount of cucumbers would take at least an afternoon to put up, I told him I needed to think about it. We're in the throes of getting ready for school and trying to squeeze in the last of summer before next Tuesday, I was doubtful we could squeeze this in. We made another lap of the market and put our purchases in the car and in a fit of insanity or maybe it was just his big brown eyes, we headed back to buy the cucumbers and a couple of bunches of fresh dill.

So, happily home with the cucumbers, dill, and armed with a recipe that had received raves, I started to explain to Young One how this whole process worked. And that's when I saw the first glimmer of dread in his eyes. I also realized that as much as he might want to help with some of it, the sterile technique required and gallons of hot bubbling brine and boiling water bath might just prove dangerous (burns for him and possible contamination of the precious pickles for all of us!). This is when I realized that I had just decided to add one huge task to my already overwhelming to do list and that I would have to do most of it alone. Oy.

I spent the next afternoon scrubbing cucumbers, peeling garlic, washing dill, sterilizing tops, packing cucumbers in jars, mixing and pouring boiling brine (and marveling at the unique turquoise color that only freshly hot packed pickles have!), and canning sixteen jars of dill pickles. I finished just in time for Meet Your Teacher Night at Young One's school.

Deep breath, and sigh.

Now we wait, for you can't just eat your pickles, they must sit for at least a month or two. In the meantime, Young One learned a lot about what it takes to put food by and I learned that there are still some limits as to what he can help with. But, boy was it enjoyable looking at those packed pickle jars cooling on the counter and it really is satisfying to see them on the shelves in the basement. It got me inspired to can more this year, something I haven't done since I first opened my business and something that my mother and grandmother taught me to do when I was about Young One's age.

I'm thinking maybe peaches. Or jam. Or both...

Once we taste the pickles, I'll post the recipe. I wouldn't want to post an imperfect pickle recipe!

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Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!