Pickles Anyone? By Rita Grace

The second Other Voices submission was from my sister, Rita Grace.  She is my rock, my expert, and she is a good sport about anything I drag her into.

A couple of years ago, my sister gave her husband an antique tractor for his birthday. It suppose to be for their ‘big garden’ on the farm. We all know its a toy.

It’s a bright Saturday morning and my dear sister has invited our cousins to MY house in a couple of weeks for a pickling party!  She has forgotten that that we’re about to start remodeling. I haven’t thoroughly cleaned the house for months– its a wreck!  I look around and decide cleaning can wait. There are cucumbers and tomatoes, fresh from our garden lying on the kitchen counter.  And they’re calling my name!

As I enter my kitchen, I realize just how much I harvested earlier that morning.  Frankly, I didn’t want to deal with any of it.  The past couple of weeks have been wonderful. With just enough vegetables to eat and not enough to preserve, we’ve relaxed and simply enjoyed life.  I am one relaxed lady and now there is a lot of work waiting for me. As I think about the fun my husband and I have had, I begin straightening up the kitchen, ignoring the vegetables.  Simply putting away all the unnecessary tools, ie, toaster, vacuum sealer, etc., improved things!

Then I stare at the cucumbers again.  My husband loves homemade pickles — he won’t hardly touch a store bought one. Knowing that cucumbers would soon be coming in with a vengeance, I begin to hunt for his favorite dill pickle recipe.  When I can’t find it, I recruit him to help me.  Together, we search the whole house and finally find the right cook book with the correct recipe.

With one eye on the cucumbers, I get out the ingredients for the dill pickle recipe and start measuring.  (I guess I’m making dill pickles today after all.)  Then I get the jars heating, along with their rings and lids.  Finally, I wash and trim cukes. Unlike my sister who considers a recipe as a suggestion, I follow the instructions to the letter.  Well, almost.  As I start filling the jars, I realize that I need more juice.  So I stop and make more liquid.  Within an hour, I have four pints of dill pickles, sealed, and ready for eating. More importantly, my kitchen is clean, and I feel a sense of success. Then I see the tomatoes…

The cousins are still coming, the house is still a wreck, but who cares?  We will be making memories and have pickles for our efforts!  I can’t wait!!

Dill Pickles
4 lbs (4″) pickling cucumbers
6 Tablespoon salt
3 cups vinegar ( I use apple vinegar)
3 cups water
1 cup dill seeds
21 peppercorns whole

Wash cucumbers; cut in lengthwise halves (I make slices, but lengthwise). Combine salt, vinegar and water. Heat to boiling. Pack cucumbers into clean hot pint jars. Add about 2 Tablespoons dill seeds and 3 peppercorns to each jar. Fil with pickling syrup to within 1/2 of jar top. Immediately adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath (212 degrees) 15 minutes. Remove jars from canner. Makes 7 pints.
Dill seeds do the seasoning

Freezing and Canning Cookbook by Farm Journal, Revised Edition, Prized Recipes from the Farms of America, Copywright 1973

Rita Grace is a retired foster care specialist. She began her career as a home economics teacher for the Hopkins County Board of Education before becoming an cooperative extension agent for the University of Illinois, then Purdue University. She and her husband enjoy gardening, preserving, and serve as technical advisers to Despite Everything. I can’t do anything without them.

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