Monday, January 24, 2011

Growing up with vinegar

by Laura Leasman

I think I was like many children growing up in that I never really thought much about vinegar. The extent of my vinegar knowledge extended to two things: my mom soaking the dish rag in white vinegar to clean it and Grandma’s canned dill pickles.

Mom would often soak the dish rag in white vinegar to clean it as well as eliminate any accumulated odors. She would mix a little vinegar with water in the kitchen sink and let the rag soak for a while. I remember running by the sink and catching that tell-tale whiff of the soaking rag and kept running. The vinegar smell was very distinctive and strong to my young nose. The vinegar did the job though, and eliminated the odors. As my dad says, cleaning is about all white vinegar is good for.

My Grandmother’s canned dill pickles are one of my favorite childhood memories. The whole family would pile into the van and go visit my grandparents on a Sunday afternoon. The kitchen table was set with Grandma’s rose dishes and a glass dish of pickles was always at the table’s center. The pickles were to accompany the meal of course, but the kids could never wait. We would all sneak a few pickles before the meal began. I know Grandma knew, but often she would let us get away with the minor thievery. Grandma’s pickles were just that good.

Now that I have grown up a little, I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. The fond memories of my childhood sometimes influence my recipe choices, and I do still love pickles. This is my grandma’s pickle recipe, slightly updated to utilize my dad’s amazing vinegars. Some of the vinegars that I think would best compliment the recipe would include: Garlic, Cilantro, Jalapeno pepper, Serrano pepper or Habanero pepper. Enjoy!

Pasteurized Dill Pickles

1 cup salt                           6 cups vinegar
13 cups water                    sugar
dill and cucumbers

Combine salt, water, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil 15 minutes. Put a head of dill in the bottom of quart jar. Pack in washed cucumbers. Add a tablespoon of sugar to each jar and another head of dill. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers to within ½ inch of the top of the jar. Adjust covers and seal. Set the jars in a deep kettle. Cover with boiling water and allow to stand until cold. This recipe yields approximately 9 quarts. Allow at
 least 2 months for curing.

No comments: