Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homemade pickles

Several years ago I bought some canning jars with the intent of canning some of summer's greatest treasures.  For me, the craft of canning triggers memories of my childhood summers spent visiting family in Indiana.  Uncle Jim's garden would be brimming with big, juicy, bright red tomatoes and Aunt Jane would can them whole or stewed. She would also make fresh tomato juice.  I was fortunate enough to taste it on a recent trip back to Indiana.  Damn good stuff.  Maybe my interest in canning is somehow connected to my love of old things ... like old run down buildings and trucks.  Canning is an old art form.  Maybe even a dying art form. What is so artistic about standing in the kitchen on a hot, humid Indiana summer afternoon with your elbows deep in tomatoes? Ask my Aunt Jane. My plan was to can tomatoes, just like her.

This summer was unusually cool in San Diego and my tiny tomato garden didn't produce much, so my plan changed.  An article in Eating Well magazine about pickling caught my eye and I thought about the persian cucumbers sitting in my refrigerator.  I could make homemade pickles.  Those would go rather nicely in my infamous Bloody Mary's. Whenever anyone mentions pickles, they assume "Oh, must be a craving," and chalk it up to a bun in the oven.  Not the case here.  Just jars of fresh homemade pickles.  

My first batch of dill pickles were a little sweeter than I expected but were still a hit with my co-workers.  We would sit around the lunch table talking about pickles, telling food-related stories and sharing our weird pickle combos.  Mine was peanut butter and bread & butter pickles (the topic of peanut butter will be a post of it's own). The second batch was better than the first and the third batch was even better. I am addicted.  I will never again buy pickles at the grocery store as homemade pickles are infinitely better.

Are you a Dill or Bread & Butter type?  What is your weird pickle combo?

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