so. Once again, the 4 cousins gather together in August to not only remember the elder matriarchal women who worked 22 hours a day in summers gardening, harvesting, preserving, canning, storing food for their families, but to also, “once again” HAVE the treasure OF those memories sealed up in jars and here for our own enjoyment.
It seems a while back now that the last of those “Grandma Ray Pickles” were being used up, all her own children already passed away except the youngest, Aunt Merle who still MADE them from her own garden way over in John Day, Oregon. We called her, she happily agreed to teach us just how to do this, so off we went for a weekend as pickle students….I’ll never forget that. The pickling of our own began that year with us, cousin Nancy M, and Merle’s own daughter Nancy P coming from Seattle…. and we’ve been pickling one weekend every August since. In that time, we lost dear cousin Nancy P. to the dreaded Mursa virus, so her own son, J & partner Bhakti replaced Nancy…..and we continue on.
Pickling these days involves a trip to the produce capital of the Portland metro area which lies just below our hilltop house on a massive island marking the confluence of the great Columbia & Willamette Rivers. It’s composed of 20 million years of river downflow containing volcanic, ash, and other rich sediments. The farm property there is invaluable….. There are produce farms where you can pick your own, organic choices, etc. OUR choice has long been one called The Pumpkin Patch…. http://www.thepumpkinpatch.com/ . . . a family owned place where no spraying is allowed.
So Friday morning is a drive to Pumpkin Patch to buy: 5 large 25# bags of smaller pickling cucumbers, dozens of dill weed branches, lots-o-garlic, serrano & Habanero peppers and a round of misc veggies that catches our eye. On return home, the work begins immediately for the cucumbers must be cleaned and placed in a water soak for the next 24 hours. So here we go with a table set up from sawhorses & plywood pieces, bowls, and cucumbers ready for work:
Ah! Getting those dang Garlic cloves out of those clumps of husks and dry peels……..Rodger discovered the method….placing the clumps between two stainless bowls and shaking ‘em up…. it’s a much easier task after that…..and here we were after an hour:
After about 4 hours, here’s our finished product that will sit quietly until the next morning’s arrival of our workmate cousins to chop, dice, place and ornament:
Ornament? Yes, half the fun is placing the seasonings/grape leaves/dill/peppers into the bottle as well:
Soon, that kitchen is simply in motion for a few hours:
And here, we await the hot-water bath finish of one group of jars before we can begin the next one. Friend RHONDA joined us because she is going to begin THIS week pickling on her own with hubby Bob. It IS because of Bob & Rhonda that we now have grape leaves growing on our own place, so we never have to buy them:
Part of the task….keeping lids sterile, and the water bath….never a full boil, rather a hot simmer going on with water level about half-way up the jars…..the purpose of this bath is simply to get the jars to “seal”……
A batch awaits the water bath:
Cousin Nancy M bravely continues on despite the arthritis bothering her hand……
The tribe lines up the final production batches for a number count which finished at 95:
And a POSE:
There WERE a few cucumbers left that night that Mark & Rodger finished the next day…..these were the very last lonely kids left for what ended up being a PINT Jar:
The lonely Last pint:
The weekend has taken its toll on Mark & Rodger who added another 24 jars of finished “Grandma Ray’s Pickles”:
Ah….next project mid-week next: Ginger Peach Jam. After That? Dilled Beans.