In the Good Ol’ Summertime…

22 07 2008

When I think of Summer, I think of orchards heavy with fruit…vines sagging under the weight of tomatoes, and jars upon jars of jewel-like jellies and jams, and the piquant aroma of vinegar…making pickles!  I’m a northern California girl.  A lot of fruit is grown here.  Peaches, apricots, plums (Sunsweet has a few plants in the area for their dried plum products), pluots (an apricot-plum cross that I’ve fallen in love with) and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) and olives all grow here this time of year.  There are produce stands along any stretch of highway you choose with fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts.

I try to put up (another term for canning) all of the diced and stewed tomatoes we’ll need each year, as well as salsa and jam. Jam is easy…there are just the two of us. 1 batch of anything is MORE than we’ll use in a year!  It’s hard to put up too many jars of fruit. Let’s face it…peaches and ice cream can be dessert any winter night to bring back the warmth of the summer sun.  So far, I’m doing pretty good, but I just can’t seem to make enough pickles.

Two years ago, a couple of different folks gave me recipes for THE best dill pickles, bar none.  Ok.  I dutifully planted a bunch of pickling cucumbers (yes, they differ from the ones you put on your salad), and dill, and envisioned a couple dozen jars of dill spears on the shelf in the end.  I made up two batches of each, secretly hoping the easier of the two recipes would work out perfectly.  In the end, it was the second recipe we liked…which didn’t take a lot of work, but really is one of the best dill pickles I’ve eaten.

Last year, I had a hard time finding seed.  There just wasn’t a lot available around town, or I was late thinking of it, or some darn thing.  So…no pickles were made at all.  I haunted the roadside stands and such, but to no avail.  We were stuck…pickleless.

This year, I started crusading early…we have to have seeds!!  We have to plant!  This year is also the first year Hubster is retired.  He pretty much wants to do things his way, and on his schedule.  Thus, there’s a certain degree of frustration for each of us. I’m hounding…he’s trying.  And so…when I saw pickling cukes at the Farmers’ Market last week, I couldn’t help myself…  I know there are some growing in my garden, and I’ll have cucumbers sooner or later, but it’s that later part that’s the driving force right now.  I have to go back to work in 2 weeks.  I want to do this NOW!!

And so…a few pounds of cukes later, I was a happy gal. I picked up some fresh dill on the way home, and we got to pickling!  One nice thing about pickling, is you can keep the brine made up and whip it all together in a few minutes.  It takes longer to get the jars sterilized than it does to actually make the pickles!  Here’s my first load for the year…6 jars…not nearly enough! I can see I’ll be shopping the Farmers’ Market until I have my own to pick!



One response

23 07 2008

I want I want I want to learn how to can this year. I am a little scared.
It all looks and sounds so great.
I also want to move to your area, I love the sound of all the produce. Canadian growing season is short, sweet and expensive. Sigh.

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