Radish Refrigerator Pickles

July 7th, 2010 / comments 5

Lynda was our first houseguest when Charles and I moved to Vermont. It was our first November in Vermont and we were naïve flatlanders learning about wood stoves, wells and cows everywhere.

cow c egbert Radish Refrigerator Pickles

Lynda had been living in the Northeast Kingdom for ten years and was an old Vermont hand. At breakfast on Saturday morning, she suggested that we go to the Red Flannel Hash supper at the Woodstock Unitarian Universalist Church that evening. I assumed that red flannel was the dress code because I had been told that it was important to be visible to hunters when walking in the woods and I was pretty sure that it was hunting season. Lynda patiently explained that red flannel was a type of hash and that I could wear whatever I chose. It was at that dinner that I learned how important pickles could be.

We sat at a long table with seven strangers and were served plates piled high with hash and a scoop of baked beans. Red flannel hash, an amazing magenta really, is a mixture of ground beets, potatoes, cabbage and corned beef. Along with bread and butter, there was a bowl of pickles in the center of our table. Red flannel hash is an acquired taste – one I hadn’t acquired. I did my best with it and used a chunk of crispy, sweet/sour pickle as a chaser after each forkful. I soon gave up on the hash and focused on the pickles, commenting with delight on their flavor each time that I asked that the (much too small) bowl be refilled. As pie was served I was introduced to the woman sitting at the end of the table. Her name was Alice and her hazel eyes sparkled as she told me that she had made all of the pickles for the supper.

pt v radishes c egbert Radish Refrigerator Pickles

You can download a label for your pickles here.

Although I don’t make red flannel hash, I make pickles of all sorts. Rather than preserving quarts of cucumbers with vinegar and dill, I make small quantities of refrigerator pickles with vegetables and fruits that are in season. Refrigerator pickles are ready to eat in six hours, require no cooking, do not need to be heat processed and the possible combinations are limited only by the varieties of vinegar, sugar, herbs and spices in the pantry. I made four different kinds of pickles to take to a fourth of July picnic. Here’s how I did it:

… read more

Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

September 3rd, 2009 / comments 8

When I was seven, I helped my Aunt Anne, whom we called Antenna, make pickles. It was a hot, sticky day in late August and my favorite cousin, Sis, and I were invited to help in the cool cellar.

Pickling Pot c egbert1 Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

There were baskets of pickling cucumbers, bunches of fresh dill, dill seeds, garlic, jugs of vinegar, boxes of mason jars, rubber rings and lids, enough supplies for a small factory. The cellar was primitive, with two large stone laundry sinks and two gas burners that were used exclusively for pickling or canning. Cucumbers floated in cold water in the deep sinks. I was the cucumber-sorter, a perfect job for a hot day.

I stood on an up-turned box, up to my elbows in cold water.  After making sure each cucumber was clean and didn’t have any soft spots, I transferred it from the left sink to the right sink. The day was hot but within ten minutes I was wet from the waist up, delighted to be as cool as the cucumbers.

The jars jingled as they boiled in the enormous black pot. After Antenna pulled a jar from the pot with tongs, Sis’s job was to drop one garlic clove and one sprig of dill into each jar. All the while, Antenna referred to a small, old notebook filled with small, scratchy hand written notes that I was unable to read. I realize now, it wasn’t the handwriting I couldn’t read – it was the Polish. Bubba, our grandmother, didn’t speak a word of English.

Antenna  filled the jars with cucumbers and boiling brine after Sis and I did our important work. By late afternoon, the cellar was filled with steam and the floor was dangerously slippery with water splashed from the sinks.

At the end of the day we proudly counted dozens of jars of pickles that would last our family until baskets of cucumbers reappeared at the market stand the next summer.

Patty pan pickles c egbert 012 Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

Because of this early food memory, I make pickles that flood my kitchen with the golden glow of summer sun in the flat gray days of winter.

My methods have changed; now I work alone in my kitchen, content with making small batches. And rather than buying pickling cucumbers by the bushel, I make pickles with squash from my garden.

Here’s how I did it.

… read more

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with pickles at Vermont food from a country kitchen – Carol Egbert.