Somewhere early in the summer I decided I wanted to make pickles. I wasn't thinking any old pickle either. I wanted to make my grandmother's sweet pickles. They stand out in my mind as one of those things that makes me think of grandma and family gatherings. Not only did her pickles taste great but they were a bright green color that caused much giggling among my cousins and I.
Grandma is in a nursing home after a stroke last November (right after she got off the red hat float in the Christmas parade). She isn't quite who she was before mentally or physically and it has impacted me more than I might have thought. Part of me wants to make sure I can preserve (pun intended) our family history. Unfortunately, no one can find the recipe. I have scoured the Internet and found a similar sounding recipe and the wise ladies over on gardenweb.com confirmed that their family recipes included green food coloring which they have since omitted.
I was originally a bit daunted by the prospect of making ANYTHING that takes 8 days. Really, my attention span is more like 8 minutes. I like to bake bar cookies because it takes less time. Like so much else, this has been a process and I've learned to enjoy it. Yes, you do something everyday for 8 days but the work isn't hard. The first 4 days I boiled water and poured them on the cukes. Yesterday I made the syrup, added my food coloring and cut the cukes into chunks. Tonight, it is syrup boiling and on Sunday the final canning of the pickles.
Just seeing grandma's crock in my kitchen makes me smile. During the summer it often sat in the chair by her back door. There was a smell of cucumbers and spices in the air. My first batch is a single recipe and it fills maybe one third of the crock, I remember hers being filled right up to the top and I realize how much work it must have been--I bought my cucumbers, she and my grandfather grew theirs in a rocky plot in the backyard. I have the crock, hopefully the recipe will be close enough that we can all remember the "good old days."