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Fruit of the Brine

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1170298798/gallery_29805_1195_27641.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">by Rachel Dulsey

Jars of pickles lined the storeroom, ranks of every-shade-of-green stretching row on row, in all the houses of my youth -- they ranged from tangy dills, with their salty brine and crown of just-cut dill, to fat, clear slices of lime sweets in their thick, sugary syrup. No Southern table was complete without a dish or two of the chosen-just-right-for-the-meal, home-canned goodies. Every jar on those shelves was "put up" at home, and was precious in its own right, having cost the cook Summer mornings of picking in the glaring sun, with the hairy, reaching cucumber vines grabbing at ankles, and the velvety thorns itching hands past bearing.

Washing and preparing, slicing and canning, measuring out those long-used receipts -- those brought into being the great shelves of Summer bounty, gained by the literal sweat of brows bent over stoves in the equally-hot kitchens. The scent of vinegar was a constant, from today's cooking, from yesterday's brining, from the fresh-put-down crock of sauerkraut in its strata of salt, from last week's churn bubbling its foamy overflow past the upended dinner plate and the layers of old sheeting yarn-tied as a fly-guard under the lid, and out into the pan beneath.

There were Grace Church pickles, with their twenty-one days of attention, a first churn rest in brine made with "salt to float an egg," according to the yellowed old recipe written in faded brown script like that of no other "hand" in our family. They sat quietly in the brine for a few days, then went into another egg-measured brew -- alum the "size of,” for eyeballing the lump needed. Then, days later, rinsings and fresh-waterings and vinegar and sugar for their final rest before canning in the big old white-speckled blue canner, with cloves and allspice tied in little bags made from squares of old pillowslips.

I always assumed they were named for an actual church, since little faded steeples dotted the hills for miles around the place of my Mammaw's raising. And those same churches sheltered and sustained many a proud cook whose receipts were coveted by every lady in the countryside. Or they could have been christened for an angelically-named person -- who remembered?

These pickles were given the place of honor, jars polished and gleaming, right in the glare of the ceiling-cord single light bulb that dangled in the storeroom. Anything that took that much work deserved looking at, and often.

Then there were the close-packed jars of dills, made of the medium-size cucumbers, with their topknot of fresh dill and some sliced garlic in the jar bottom. The recipe started out: “a scant cup of salt,” and the ambiguity did not matter -- everyone’s teacups were a different size.

The same tongue-curling salty brine was also used for baby green tomatoes, baby eggplant, and okra, all of which got the requisite scatter of sliced hot red peppers in the bottom of each jar. Yellow squash was sliced, layered with salt to sit overnight, then cooked off with red bell pepper, sliced onions, and a freckling of mustard seed in the clear, sweetish juice.

Okra was a category unto itself, a family thing, either loved or hated, and the squat jars saved from store-bought pickles and jams and olives were filled tight. Okra was chosen exactly for the height of each jar. I’d walk up and down the ranks of shining glass, dealing out the pods by size and length. A little bulb of garlic nestled between those pointy tips, the smallest wasp-tail red pepper, and salty vinegar was our recipe, and these pickles were usually saved for holidays and other special occasions.

Lime pickles were soaked overnight in a brew of dissolved household lime, the same choking stuff that was scattered on the dirt floor of the henhouse. The cucumber slices emerged next morning crisp and friable, most of their own moisture removed; next came many rinsings, very careful rinsings to keep the slices from breaking apart in their delicate state. Vinegar and sugar -- heavy on the sugar overnight, with another little clove/allspice bag, then the cook-and-can early the next morning -- these were the "easy" pickles. They turned out heavenly crisp, snapping in your mouth like a slice of fresh carrot, but tooth-achingly sweet, with a syrup that ran thick as Grandpa's home-squeezed sorghum.

The same treatment went to sliced green tomatoes, with the spices scattered into the jar, and bread-and-butters were prepared according to the squash recipe. On every dinner and supper table sat little bowls of pickles; several small cut-glass dishes were saved for special, and one had three little divisions for different kinds. Beets had a clear glass bowl all their own -- they had been simmered with the peel on, to slip easily off with the press of a hand, then the slices simmered again with a light vinegar/sugar/water syrup, which turned the deep shade of a good burgundy.

Sliced beets, baby beets -- each had its place in the canning hierarchy. Days were devoted to simmering and peel-slipping and slicing. Every summer, the heavy yellow Playtex gloves I wore for beets slowly darkened from pale lavender to mauvish to deepest Welch’s purple. I wore them so as not to head off to church looking as if I’d butchered a steer early in the morning. That juice would leave a stain on your hands almost as bad as green walnuts.

And the baby ones had to be snuck into the bottom of your picking tub, at least in our acres of garden -- my first grandfather-in-law, who manned the tilling tractor and the watering hoses, kept a keen eye on picking anything before it got to the “worth it” stage. He was a firm believer in getting the most out of every seed and every hour we spent bent over a hoe or squatting between those rows to reap the bounty -- and always, that meant leaving things be until they were big enough to have earned their keep and become worthy of the table. He taught my children the thrift of the waiting, and as we squatted together amongst the steam-rising rows of green, as they picked so long as I told fairy tales and recited poetry, they faithfully chose only the ready-to-pick vegetables. It's odd that the only one not to keep the faith is the one who makes our little home garden now -- he'll come in with buckets filled with all sizes; it's for me to sort and use as I choose.

I used to wait and go out later in the evening, after supper, while Walter Cronkite kept Papa’s rapt attention, and gather whatever looked best and freshest and tenderest. Tiny spineless cucumbers to be drenched in the dill brine and “make” before the big guys in the half-gallon jugs; the smaller-than-golf balls beets to pickle into tender one-bite treats for “company,” the smallest turnips for slicing and munching raw with a sprinkle of salt, a handful of the tiniest of radishes, small as beans, and the merest wisps of baby green beans stirring in the breeze, to be mixed with rinsed leftover pintos or northerns, shreds of sweet onion, little red diamonds of bell pepper, and a sugar-enhanced vinaigrette for a salad worthy of any church supper. Pickles have been around since they had to make their own vinegar, standing in a bowl or crock 'til the sourness developed on its own. There's the infamous pickle dish in Ethan Frome, the piccalilli-and-stones disaster in The Long, Long Trailer, a funny Andy Griffith episode involving a midnight refrigerator raid, and of course, the kerosene pickles.

My favorite reference in literature is one from a book called The House at Old Vine, by Norah Lofts. It chronicles the centuries of an old country household from the middle ages to modern England, with all its uses along the way. One of its incarnations was as a boy's school of the earlier years -- one of the grim, cold, chilblains-and-gruel chapters in England's history, times which strengthened or killed off many a male scholar. The couple running the school meted out barely-sufficient meals, giving the boys the best they could with their meager income, with great pots of overnight-simmered oatmeal scooped into eager bowls, and a flour-and-water mixture which was mixed with a scant few eggs and scrambled for special days. There's a line something like "the boys called it cowshit but ate it eagerly anyway."

But the great reward, the best-of-the-best, awarded for valor or grades or success on the playing field, was a turn at the pickle-barrel. The brine in that barrel was aged and ageless -- the housewife had tossed in rinds, bits of raw vegetables, green plums and knotty apples, purposely-cultivated cucumbers and squash, with nary a concern for suitability or sanitation. Many a paragraph is devoted to the coveting, the enjoying, the maneuvering of that long fork in the jealously-guarded try at getting the biggest piece onto the tines.

A cucumber was a prize; a bit of gourd or squash, second place, but a fist-sized pickled onion -- Grail. No imagination needed to understand the great hunger for such a tangy, salty bite, or the guarded, greedy relish with which it was devoured. Words aren't needed to convey the bright-eyed, lusty joy with which the boys tucked into their dripping prize. The bland, bulk-laden floury food, the grain-stapled diet, the greasy boiled bacon -- what a treat to bite into a juicy, sour, salty pickle. Just the thought gives an under-tongue tingle akin to sniffing the French's jar.

The prevalence of bland food in so many novels also brings to mind an unforgettable passage in one of the James Herriot books, involving boiled bacon -- a great fat-laden wet plateful of it -- which he, the guest, was expected to down. With his humble host and hostess looking eagerly on, his only salvation was a big glass of Scotch and a dish of pickled onions.

I know only the Southern standards, the old recipes, though my refrigerator harbors at any time five or six kinds; a quart Tupperware of turmeric-yellowed thin-sliced crisp sweet onions in a mild brine is a yearly gift from a friend. Some little round Kirbys are in a sesame/rice vinegar soak right now, to go with the lovely baby bok choy I'll stir-fry for supper. A flat fridge dish of beets, straight from a can, are bleeding their juices into a handful of sugar, a dash of vinegar, and three cloves.

And, since our move to the city with all its markets and restaurants and shops with their wonderful, exotic offerings, we’ve learned the joys of kimchee, with its sour tang punctuated by the scattered bits of peppery redness; the little dish of quarter-sliced cucumber in its own special brew of rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, which is set down in welcome, along with about a dozen other offerings, even before we order at our favorite Korean restaurant.

We linger at the cippolini tubs in the big supermarket, with their purples and greens and matching aromas; we dip up fat juicy jalapenos and olives of every hue in the spectrum; we enjoy tastes and savors and vegetables we learned of only after we moved here.

My own history of pickles is a very narrow slice. But they're the ones I know, the ones I continue to make, the ones that have been passed down through many vine-and-brine-chapped hands, and I'm proud of all of them. But I do love to find a new vegetable, a new brine ingredient, a new combination to add to the long, respectable list used by generations of cooks. However, the biggest crock, an elderly ten-gallon ceramic beauty, has been retired from years of holding eye-tearing brine and bushels of curing vegetables. It now rests in the hosta bed under the huge backyard tree all summer, support for a pretty octagon of marble which holds the biggest parlor fern.

In winters past, the longing for something green consumed many an hour amongst people with no way to preserve any kind of salad ingredient, and no hope save spring for a crisp, fresh taste. The wonderful, rich savors of Southern cooking, the pot of greens enhanced by a few drops from the bottle of pepper sauce; the soft, salt-and-pork seasoned vegetables, the great pots of dried beans with several meaty ham hocks falling from the bone, the crusty pan of steaming cornbread -- all needed just that touch of vinegary, tangy pickle to make the meal complete and satisfying. In my own home, I can think of no treasure save for pictures of the children and grandchildren, or our enormous walls of books, which could provide the contentment and feeling of wealth and accomplishment as those shelves of homemade pickles.

<div align="center">* * *</div>

Rachel Dulsey (aka racheld: G.R.I.T.S. Girl by birth, Ole Miss Girl by Daddy's love of those Rebels, Learned to read at four, and haunted smalltown libraries ever after. Wife, Mother, Grandmother, (about-to-be-again, twice in September). Tender of homefires, the Comfort and the Cozy; Fierce and Loyal Friend. Pretty good cook, Scribbler, Admirer of the Written Word in almost all its forms, Bookstore Junkie. Kind to small creatures and Friend to Fairies everywhere.

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RE: Rachel: "And those same churches sheltered and sustained many a proud cook whose receipts were coveted by every lady in the countryside."

And those little old church ladies could be quite competitive.

Remember the plot of The Andy Griffith Show episode, "The Pickle Story"?

Aunt Bea's best friend, Clara, was gunning for her 12th straight Blue Ribbon in the Mayberry Fair Best Pickle Competition. Aunt Bea wanted to enter her "Kerosene Pickles", as they were generally known, unbeknownst to her.

Andy, trying to avoid embarrassing her, substituted store bought pickles, which ended up winning First Place!

SB (loved the way Aunt Bea said, "Oh, Andy!")( :wub: added via edit) :wink:


Edited by srhcb (log)

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I'll bet there's even a Pickle Fairy in your kitchen, isn't there, Rachel. :wink:

Shhhh. . . don't say her name out loud - she might become startled, and fall right into the very pickling juices and vittles that she's protecting! :shock:

I'm sure she has lovely long green-and-gold hair, and that her perfume wafts the incense of spices and mustard.

She's hiding right there, behind your sentences, with a tiny knowing twinkling smile.

:smile:

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Yes, Aunt Bea and all her town cohorts could turn out a spread to make your tastebuds dance. But those PICKLES!!!

She must have made a good batch SOMETIME, though, for there's another episode in which diplomats have gathered in or near Mayberry, and for lack of hotel space, had to be distributed out amongst the townspeople. Much dissent and wrangling over the conference table, then the two majorly-opposed-to-each-other's-opinions were sent to find bed and board at Andy and Aunt Bea's house.

A wonderful supper, then to bed. Later a noise in the kitchen, and a click of a light revealed Oscar Homolka, bless his sagebrush eyebrows and curmudgeonly heart, marauding the refrigerator. More folks gathered, and Tupperwares were spread onto the kitchen table. A jar of pickles was set down, and Balkan-language Oscar's character tried to read the label: Puh E Kless.

One taste, and that moustache uncovered a wide grin: "Oh, PEEE-kles!" (nodding vigorously).

All extraneous cast tiptoed away, the two protagonists sat down to cold fried chicken, several containers of whatever delicious they had had for supper, and more of those pickles. Conviviality led to d'accord, and history was changed.

Doncha think a lot of sit-at-a-desk decisions could be discussed much more fruitfully and intelligently, not to mention in a more friendly manner, over a midnight fridge raid? Especially in Aunt Bea's kitchen. :wub:

Edited to correct the spelling of Dear Oscar's name. R.I.P., Uncle Chris :wub:


Edited by racheld (log)

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I'll bet there's even a Pickle Fairy in your kitchen, isn't there, Rachel.  :wink:

Shhhh. . . don't say her name out loud - she might become startled, and fall right into the very pickling juices and vittles that she's protecting!  :shock:

I'm sure she has lovely long green-and-gold hair, and that her perfume wafts the incense of spices and mustard.

She's hiding right there, behind your sentences, with a tiny knowing twinkling smile.

:smile:

AHHHH, you've met Vivelda!!! She is and has, and it does. :wink:

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Aw Rachel, just lovely. If it wasn't so unladylike, I would have to say that your pickle descriptions are downright salivation-inducing. Those shelves--what ineffable wealth.

Somethng about pickles, some combination of ancient and contemporary, satisfaction and refreshment. Essential, in every way a food can be.


Priscilla

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A note from the CANYON!!! Lovely.

A full pantry, especially by your own hands' work, is wealth indeed. I used to put up probably three to four hundred jars every summer when we had the several-acre garden. There would be cases of Mason jars, heavy with bounty, stashed in every spare inch of the house, back porch, and overflowing into the several sheds out back. Our old-fashioned bedsteads allowed for sliding about a dozen cases beneath, though our beds of today are not as hospitable.

Now we fill one floor-to-ceiling shelf upstairs with "salt-water dills" and the last hurrah of the garden's small stuff--tiny green grape tomatoes in the dilly brine, all the small cucumbers left a-dangling from their sturdy fence when the frost is ready to visit, and whatever other bits might freeze. All that GREEN still looks the same as it always did, shining in the sunlight.

There's also a little row of glowy-pink pear preserves, from a bushel brought back by DS#2 from his fall hunting trip Down-Home. Those ranks were reduced by one on Sunday, as a guest at Chris' Birthday Brunch consumed almost a whole jar, piling them upon butter-soaked biscuits and murmuring softly to himself with every bite.

His thank-you e-mail included the note that he had gone right out and purchased a bag of the Pillsbury frozen biscuits, plus a broad hint that a pint of those preserves would not be taken amiss.

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I really like that you've chosen to write about pickles, Rachel, for they really are an endlessly fascinating subject.

Like. . .sometimes when I meet someone for the first time I say to myself "Hmmm. If you were a pickle, I wonder what sort of pickle you would be."

Myself, often I feel like that little piece of cauliflower that somehow got stuck in with the sliced cucumbers by mistake. But I'd secretly like to be a pickled green tomato - so earthy, exotic, mysterious you know.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by not only the sorts of pickles they eat, but also the sort of pickle they would be if they were a pickle. :smile:

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:laugh: I'm wondering if you're mumbling tongue-in-cheek, or have really thought that thought.

I, too, am probably a slice of green tomato, maybe the bottom slice, slightly rounded, the piece with the waterproof skin on one side for protection. Slightly tangy on the inside, but the outside dripping with sugary-rich syrup. And then probably not. That big smile/bigger stick persona is not mine. Sugar-dripping is the parvenu of the faux-Belle.

Belle I've never been, but I can be a formidable faux, especially in the face of pure-D meanness; guess I'm a chameleo-dill, sweet or briny as the occasion requires.

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:laugh: I'm wondering if you're mumbling tongue-in-cheek, or have really thought that thought. 

Compared to some of the other things I think when I first meet people, that thought is rather tame. :biggrin:

The only recipe I ever remember being used in my family for pickles was Maine Mustard Pickles. Whew. An acquired taste, perhaps. But good.

Quick little fridge pickles that get eaten right up are mostly what I like to make. Though if I had an old-fashioned pantry with a Dutch door I'd just have to make pickles in the summertime, lots of them. Pickle-making, to me, is an architecturally-driven process. :wink:

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I think you can tell a lot about a person by not only the sorts of pickles they eat, but also the sort of pickle they would be if they were a pickle.  :smile:

I think I would be pickled beets, because they have a hearty, robust visage.

SB (like me!) :wink:

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I just purely love the way you write, ma'am.

We, my dad, sister and I, used to pickle onions. The sight of the large jars, somewhat amber from the cider vinegar & spices, gave my dad joy and my mom heartburn.

I kept being reminded of one of the foodblogs from Japan (Helenjp's, I think).

Also a devoted pickle maker and the techniques are so different.

Buckets of bran in the hall instead of gleaming jars, etc.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Pickles! Pickles. Aww, PICKLES! I adore a good pickle, but have never canned them myself. The simple add-more-vegetables-to-the-leftover-brine method is my go to recipe, bested only by the put-the ingredients-in-the-jar-and-set-it-in-the-refrigerator method.

Ahh, but I DO adore a decently pickled item, truly, I do! And, as importantly, I enjoy the word itself, PICKLE.

In a pickle...Such a pickle... Aww, PICKLES!... What the pickle!?... I have turned many a silly phrase and uttered quite a number of pickle accented phrases over the years, with a myriad of meanings!

Pickle, go ahead, say it aloud! It is just such a GOOD word, descriptive of so many feelings and beings and happenings. But, Rachel, as usual, with your lilting voice shining through the letters on the screen(or page!), you have captured the happiest and most tender meaning of the word.

Thank you. And I mean that, from the bottom of the barrel, to the top!

edited by me for spelling, PICKLE!


Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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I think you can tell a lot about a person by not only the sorts of pickles they eat, but also the sort of pickle they would be if they were a pickle.  :smile:

I think I would be pickled beets, because they have a hearty, robust visage.

SB (like me!) :wink:

There's a lot to be said for robust and hearty, even without all the color. Whole or sliced?

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I just purely love the way you write, ma'am.

We, my dad, sister and I, used to pickle onions. The sight of the large jars, somewhat amber from the cider vinegar & spices, gave my dad joy and my mom heartburn.

I kept being reminded of one of the foodblogs from Japan (Helenjp's, I think).

Also a devoted pickle maker and the techniques are so different.

Buckets of bran in the hall instead of gleaming jars, etc.

Kind words, indeed---I write just like I talk, only faster---waiting for this Southern Accent to get all the words out is a pain, sometimes.

I love the vision of you three in the kitchen, with all the pots and jars and that cider vinegar cutting the air. I love it when families work together, expecially in the kitchen. We used to do food for weddings and parties, and my home kitchen had such a long bar that we could spread out, alternating sides, with four of us at work at once---one spreading dainty sandwiches, one stirring up quiche batter by the gallon, one washing and cutting crudite, and me in my spot, stacking and frosting layer after layer of the cake.

I never decorated then, though---that required late night solitude, an extra little throw rug under my tired feet, a BIG pitcher of iced tea, and Water Music or The Four Seasons to keep me company.

But pickles, now---they love a crowd.

I'll have to look up that blog. Could you elaborate on the buckets of bran?

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Pickles! Pickles. Aww, PICKLES! I adore a good pickle, but have never canned them myself. The simple add-more-vegetables-to-the-leftover-brine method is my go to recipe, bested only by the put-the ingredients-in-the-jar-and-set-it-in-the-refrigerator method.

Ahh, but I DO adore a decently pickled item, truly, I do! And, as importantly, I enjoy the word itself, PICKLE.

In a pickle...Such a pickle... Aww, PICKLES!... What the pickle!?... I have turned many a silly phrase and uttered quite a number of pickle accented phrases over the years, with a myriad of meanings!

Pickle, go ahead, say it aloud! It is just such a GOOD word, descriptive of so many feelings and beings and happenings. But, Rachel, as usual, with your lilting voice shining through the letters on the screen(or page!), you have captured the happiest and most tender meaning of the word.

Thank you. And I mean that, from the bottom of the barrel, to the top!

edited by me for spelling, PICKLE!

I just LOVE this!!! You make them sound like food, dessert, swear words, idioms, therapy, puns, elocution lessons, recipes and a lesson straight from McGuffey's.

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A great piece, Rachel. I made a quick fridge pickle of beets this morning before work, and I smiled to read your perfect verb: peel-slipping.

Thanks for dipping us in the brine.

Thank you, Chris. We, too, have a fresh little GLAD tub awaiting the weekend. Could have had them for supper tonight, but they're really better with a little waiting.

Brine-dipping on request, anytime.

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As always, your rich imagery and well-turned phrases cause considerable delight. Growing up, my best friend’s father made pickles and tied his own fly-fishing lures. Somehow, those two activities seemed to spring from a common source. Younger son loves sweet pickles, but tonight spat out a dill pickle with disgust. Apparently sour and dill conflicted with his sweet expectations.

By disposition, I am unsuited to pickling. A confirmed planner in most other aspects of life, I cook for immediate gratification. Current activity to address future hunger does not come naturally. The closest that I come to pickling is making Thai/Vietnamese/Sichuan cucumber salads – sort of an instant pickle, with rice vinegar, salt, sugar, and chilies.

. . . one of the grim, cold, chilblains-and-gruel chapters in England's history . . .

When asked why she emigrated to America, my British-born mother responded, “Because it was always cold.” :biggrin:

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Thank you, Mr. Crab-man. There ARE almost-instant pickles, and ones which take five minutes of your time and a snuggle in the fridge for several days. Unless you want to go wake them up early, or prod them to check for flavor, you don't have to give them a thought until time to eat. (Or moss grows up and out the lip of the jar--trust me, we have two fridges and occasionally forget a bit of something WAY in the back).

What kind of sweets does your DS#2 like? I find ALL store-bought sweets just appalling---not sweet enough, and with an overwhelming spice that I have never been able to pinpoint. I just know I do not like it, Dr. Fell.

Our favorite quick-sweets (always called Cheater Pickles) are a sweet dill pickle made from a gallon of thin-sliced dills, straight from Costco or Sam's or Gordons.

They had no sliced last time, and I have a gallon of whole ones, awaiting the attention of the mandoline.

Funnel all the juice from the gallon into other containers---it's our constant source for Ranch dressing. Mixed with mayo and some crushed garlic, with a little snipped or dried dill for the color flecks, it makes an even tastier dressing than that little packet. And I can NEVER remember to keep buttermilk in the house.

OKAY---back to the sweets. Dump out almost all the slices into a sizeable container. Onto the inch or so of slices left in the gallon jar, sprinkle in about a half cup of sugar, a clove or two, and a couple of dried allspice berries. (Ground versions of either are NOT good---brown brine is neither aesthetically pleasing nor particularly tasty).

Throw in another couple inches of slices, pour in enough sugar to dribble all down amongst the spaces clear to the bottom---shake the jug to sort of crust over all the cucumbers. A couple more spices, more cukes, more sugar, shaking with the lid on from time to time (DRY YOUR HANDS---I will not tell of the unfortunate droppage and the resulting sticky floors that resulted, plus you CANNOT sweep up broken glass if it's glued to the floor, rug, or side of your shoe). And if you try, your broom will look like a matted-together Mohawk.

Just fill up the jug, no juice at all, just lots of sugar, a few spices, a week's wait in the fridge (put the whole thing in a BIG Tupperware that will lie flat between the shelves if a jug is too tall). These are crisp, translucent, very sweet, with just a hint of clove and allspice, and can take their place with anything Ms. Heinz and Mr. Vlasic want to throw against them. And they don't have that turmeric/alummy taste of the "bought" ones.

Just give them a turn upside down now and then so the juice can run (up? down?) and help moisturize the sugar up top. One minute, back in the fridge, and wait if you can. You can always start with a pint or a quart---we've graduated to the BIG guns.

And DS#2 will love making them--easy as pie. Just have a broom for the sugar and mop for the spills and you're in business.

Edited to add an errant parenthesis arm---it made an unfinished hug.


Edited by racheld (log)

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There ARE almost-instant pickles, and ones which take five minutes of your time and a snuggle in the fridge for several days.

Ah, yes, but the “snuggle in the fridge for several days” part is the problem for me. That, and I have the typical male inability to find things in a less-than-relentlessly-organized refrigerator.

What kind of sweets does your DS#2 like?

DS#2 loves store-bought sweet gherkins, the sweeter the better.

Our favorite quick-sweets (always called Cheater Pickles) are a sweet dill pickle made from a gallon of thin-sliced dills, straight from Costco or Sam's or Gordons.

I have printed your instructions - the cloves and allspice sound delicious. Hmm, perhaps I can interest DS#2 in a cheater pickle project . . .

And DS#2 will love making them--easy as pie.  Just have a broom for the sugar and mop for the spills and you're in business.

Broom. Mop. I'm listening to the voice of experience. :biggrin:

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Wow I am SO making Cheater Pickles right quick here. Thanks, Rachel!

The only pickles I make regularly are Japanese, quick cucumber and other veg, and longer-ferment napa.

For dill pickles and cornichon types I rely on the Middle Eastern market, which has an entire aisle devoted to the category. But no sweet chips; Cheater Pickles are just what i need.


Priscilla

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Ah, yes, but the “snuggle in the fridge for several days” part is the problem for me. That, and I have the typical male inability to find things in a less-than-relentlessly-organized refrigerator.

Now, see, that is the difference between your three-things-in-woks to turn out beautiful, varied dinner delights, with all the exotic flavors and textures and fresh just-kissed-the-flame crunch, and my three-pans-on-the-stove. I just relax and enjoy. My fridge is full of leftovers and five Glads of pickles of various sorts in various stages. Pulling out Wednesday's turkey chili and the bag of Tuesday's cornbread---crumble, top, bake---those are the serendipity of our days. Relentless just has no place in a kitchen, unless you're battling ants.

Caro's upstairs fridge is a Dorothy-door of lovely greens and fresh crisp things, tofu and strange, delicious vegetables from the Asian or Indian markets, and all the ingredients for currying, stir-frying, soup-making and a thousand kinds of salad, all at hand, neatly arranged. Her own Glads of steamed vegetables, five or six kinds, are stacked like boxes of diva shoes, the light shining softly through the dozens of colors.

And, I must mention, mine usually holds a teacup, a dishwashered yogurt container, a cottage cheese tub, with or without lids, the food quickly hidden away as I wipe the counter and go settle in for a TV show that's coming-on-right-now.

The teacup is a Southern must-have. Open cups have fulfilled a tradition which has not been trifled with since refrigerators came to be---the last tablespoon of green peas (English peas from a can started the whole thing) MUST be rattled into the cup and left to dessicate before tossing away. You CANNOT throw away a soft pea---it's the LAW. When you give the cup a little circular swing and hear the peas scritch around with a whishy sound, it's time. Your duty has been fulfilled.

So, start with a quart. Consider it Daddy-time and do the sugar thing. Let him clove to his hearts content; you'll find it more than a bonding experience. One or both of you will likely end up with your shoes stuck to the floor. :raz:

edited for apostrophetic accuracy


Edited by racheld (log)

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Wow I am SO making Cheater Pickles right quick here.  Thanks, Rachel!

The only pickles I make regularly are Japanese, quick cucumber and other veg, and longer-ferment napa.

For dill pickles and cornichon types I rely on the Middle Eastern market, which has an entire aisle devoted to the category.  But no sweet chips; Cheater Pickles are just what i need.

Go ye therefore. This is an easy, messy prep, and do try just a quart. You can buy the whole ones, introduce them to your mandoline, and start from there. No one has EVER made them with homemade dills---it would be a sacrilege, somehow, to convert something so RIGHT into another form. Bought ones---they have no sentimental place, and can be altered to your heart's etc.

I have a feeling that Crab-man's cucumber-loving boys will not let that quart come to fruition---it's too tempting to just dig out a few and see if they're ready. Until there are none left.

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