Most of us have a pickle story, or two, to tell. You might recall prying open a jar to salve that crazy craving you had during a pregnancy. Maybe the taste of Aunt Bessie’s bread and butter pickles still lingers on your palate. Or you may secretly indulge in making Elvis’ favorite sandwich: pickles and peanut butter.
You may even have tried making pickles yourself, as I did back in those days when I was willing to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a batch of cukes and a crock of brine.
Pickle Packin’ Mama
It all started when I admired a sample of pickles made by a man at our church. The recipe was from an old, Arkansas woman, he said. He had learned to make them and did each year when his cukes came in. They were crispy chunks of incredible goodness.
He gladly shared the recipe and I bought the needed ingredients to make a batch. I was eager to get started, that is, until I read the recipe and found out it took 3 to 4 week, during which there was a lot of brining. Apparently, the care and keeping of pickles is much like tending a new born.
To Pickle or Not to Pickle
I was about to back down, but I had the cucumbers and the ingredients for the brine, so I soldiered on. I even bought a special crock to create my own cucumber “still” in the basement.
In the end, I had umpteen jars of pickles, that weren’t nearly as good as my friends. Even so, I was as proud as if I’d won a blue ribbon at the county fair. But it was far more work than I was willing to put in every year, so I returned to Heinz and enjoyed an occasional gift from my friend.
Alas . . .
My pickle-making days were over. Never again would I make that kind of commitment to a tub of cucumbers. Nowadays, I only pickle carrots, which are incredibly easy and greatly enhance a sandwich or salad.
I was resigned to thinking I’d never again find a pickle as good as those Arkansas ones.
Munchin’ and Crunching
But last week life took a new culinary turn for me. While at the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market I ran onto a jar labeled “Million Dollar Pickles.” Cyndy, a pickle person like myself, decided to invest in the condiment ($6 a jar) and offered to share some with me.
When we got back to my condo, the first thing we did was open that jar. Oh, my heavens! We were in pickle paradise! They reminded me of those Arkansas pickles from years ago.
Etta James Was Right
Etta James was undoubtedly singing about pickles when she warbled, “At last my love has come along.” Indeed, those Million Dollar pickles live up to their name. But with the rate of inflation, I think it’s time to change the label to Billion Dollar Pickles.