Lucy in the Chocolate Factory

I’ve got a pretty flimsy sense of culinary modesty, and nothing brings it crashing down quicker than a compliment on my own home-made pickles. I don’t know why I’m so uncontrollably proud of them. Maybe because I still have a hard time believing something so good can be so easy to make.

Here in the States it’s prime pickle season, with tomatoes and melons thick on the vine, and zucchini so abundant we’re forced to lock our car doors to keep neighbors from sneaking them into our back seats. Certainly at no other time of year is the dual kindly/cruel personality of nature so apparent, presenting us with so much delicious produce that we could never possibly eat.

The human impulse to save at least a little of the good stuff for later is what’s given us all the myriad forms of preservation we see around us today: salting, drying, refrigeration, freezing, flour making, baking, jelly and jam making, brewing, wine making, distillation, cheese making and of course pickling. Pickling can draw out the useful life of vegetables anywhere from a few days to a few years. We’ll look at some of the ways this is accomplished in the course of the day.

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