At long last…..pickles….


Lily, Calvin, Jonathan, Markie and Lainie showed up last Wednesday at the Art-Farm Camp, along with Dede and I.  It was time to do something with our veggies that we harvested.  And, I’ve been thinking about making pickles with kids since last October.   

And so, we carry our baskets and buckets to the garden and unfortunately find many bloated, yellow cucumbers.  Aye-yi-yi—the cucumbers suffered this summer with inadequate water and long hot, dry days.  The vines were drying up. And so, not many, but some smart pickles and a little over-done, but still fragrant dill, and a few of the Big Italian Wonder tomatoes which we took along for a snack. 

No, we weren’t disuaded from the pickling plan—ah ha—it was Wednesday again—-Farmers Market day in downtown Traverse City! 

Dede and I packed up the kids and headed downtown.  Our first stop was at the Amish stand for a pack of peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, then into the hustle and bustle of the market, searching for pesticide-free cucumbers.  Our friend and neighbor gardener, Char, had her flower stand set up with a blue, plastic fringed umbrella.  We stopped for a chat and the kids made up beautiful flower bouquets.  Cockscomb, dahlia, snap dragons, sweet william….what were those others???!!??

We found our healthy pesticide free, cucumbers and paid $10 for a half bushel.  Next stop was at the grocery store for vinegar and salt.  Lainie picked out Hain’s Sea Salt—it was a good kind she and her family had used.

Since our Art-Farm Camp was not equipped with a kitchen, our friends, Lou and Linnea had given us the use of their 8th street kitchen, so we headed that way.  In addition to the kids, my car was packed with jars, lids, pots and pans, a couple of sharp knives and a steam canner.  My good car, Bonita has been an amazing classroom/storage/studio on wheels for many years.

We began our project at approximately 1:00 PM–reading through the recipe from the tattered old copy of the St. Isadore’s Church Cookbook.  Janice Hursts’ recipe was the chosen one to use.  Janice, was my childhood friend Debbie’s mom. This neighboring farm family introduced me to many things, in addition to home-made pickles: fresh-baked bread, zuchinni and swiss chard, and cows milk on cheerios’ in the morning (eechhh–not so great, really). 

Our Dill Pickle recipe was pretty simple:  1 qt. Vinegar, 2 qt. water, alum the size of a hickory nut, and 1 cup salt–not iodized.  Let the cucumbers stand overnight in cold water. (We did not.  Lou and Linnea were’nt up to overnight visitors). Pack in jars with sprig of dill in bottom and top.  A clove of garlic and or hot pepper may be added.  Bring water solution to a boil and keep boiling while pouring over pickles.  Seal.  Ready in about 6 weeks.  Cucumbers can be left whole if small.  If large, they can be sliced or cut in strips.

While Dede and Markie finished up the steam canning, the rest of us took a hike to Hannah Park in the sprinkling rain.  Jon and Calvin were wound up in a wild, happy mode and needed “walking”.  We hiked around a couple of blocks and checked out the garden at Central Grade school…wondering if they had a good cucumber crop.  Then back to the 8th street kitchen for our final good bye, thank you to our hosts, and off all the kids went at 3:15 PM with two pints and one quart of fresh canned dill pickles each.


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