|SEPTEMBER IS PICKLE SEASON, AS BACK-YARD GARDEN'S ACROSS THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE OVER-DELIVER AND RALLY - OH, WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL.|
Pickling connects us with the past - a time when there was no refrigeration, no ice box, no supermarket. Pickling was essential, and it is not only deeply connected to our survival, for many of us, it connects us to our first experiences with the garden, often in our childhood. I tend to become very nostalgic during this time of year. Memories of mushroom picking, boiling Concord Grapes for juice and snapping bushels of wax beans for canning are memories one can never forget.
In this old kitchen, which was my mother's and my grandmother's before that, I can't help but think about home canning and pickles, for both were a yearly project every September. I can only carry on the tradition here in smaller quantities, but the sharp smell of vinegar, spices and salt boiling on the stove brings it all back home. It begins during these early September days when the mornings are cool with dew, and the evenings sultry and humid - buckets of cucumbers begin to multiply on the back porch, summer squash end up in unusual places around the yard and tomatoes begin to pile up in every spare basket on the deck and in the kitchen, attractive fruit flies - dare we toss anything away after all of the work invested, we gardeners eventually explore the fun and rewarding task of canning and preserving, even if it is just a few jars of pickled vegetables.
|ASIAN PEARS NEED TO BE CANNED CAREFULLY, NOT LIKE REGULAR PEARS, REQUIRING THE ADDITION OF ACID (Lemon Juice and Ascorbic acid) AS WELL AS EXTRA SUGAR AN HONEY. I ADDED SOME SPICES TO SOME, AND ALSO CANNED SOME WHOLE WITH STEMS AS GIFTS.|
Tomatoes were often canned out back, on the outdoor fireplace that we used as a grill. I imagine that tomatoes were processed here as long as the fireplace had been there ( built by my uncles with a date of 1938 carefully scratched into the concrete). Giant enamel tubs filled with steaming water sat on the grates as dad piled oak logs underneath. We children sat at a picnic table, again, with sharp knives waiting to skin tomatoes. Our hands scalded and wrinkled after what seemed like hours of skinning scalded tomatoes as my older brothers rotated bringing peeled tomatoes back to the house so mom could process them for canning. We all looked forward to later in the season, when tomatoes would be too rotten or damaged to use for whole canned tomatoes, because these could simply be ground and processed into ketchup, tomato juice ( a water version more like tomato water) and tomato sauce. This was long before salsa made it on the scene.
|ARMENIAN PICKLES, NOT PROCESSED BUT FRESH INCLUDE BEETS WHICH TRANSFORMS THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE JAR INTO A BEAUTIFUL RED COLOR|
This week I focused on the pears, and garden pickles - mixed garden pickles, Italian Giardiniera ( Italian mixed garden pickles with more peppers, and seasoned with fresh oregano and garlic, Jardiniére, a French version of mixed garden pickles, made with tarragon, white wine vinegar, pattypan squash and celery, and a pink Armenian pickle ( for Joe, since he is Armenian), made with radishes, green grape tomatoes, bay leaf from our topiaried bay laurel trees, cinnamon and beets. These are refrigerator pickles that will be ready in one months time, and the French and Italian pickles were processed in a hot water bath. All three recipe's are from THE JOY OF PICKLING by Linda Ziedrich, The Harvard Common Press.