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Pickles aren’t like food you grow

2011 March 4

Last night—the garden snoozing under blankets of snow—I placed a jar of our home-canned pickles on the dinner table. “Pickles,” mused Col thoughtfully, “aren’t like food you grow. They come from another food.”

It could have been an answer from Jeopardy! The Kindergarten Round!, as in:I’ll take Food Preservation for $100, Mama.”

I could see Col flipping through his mental files, perhaps conjuring up the hot September day we plucked cucumbers from scratchy vines, or the corresponding night when cucumbers, garlic and dill seeds marched through the pickling assembly line of our kitchen.

“They’re from cucumbers!” Col remembered, and a chorus of angels blew trumpets in my garden-loving heart.

Read the rest of this essay called Connecting Children to Food and Nature through Gardening here on the Spring edition of Rhythm of the Home.
Also, via Rhythm of the Home, I’m offering a giveaway of calendula seeds saved from my garden, and homemade calendula salve (great for healing skin irritations, dry skin, rashes). There’s a whole page of gorgeous giveaways offered by Rhythm of the Home contributors and mine is a little like the Barry Manilow album tucked in amongst the entire compiled works of The Beatles, which is to say if you go here and leave a comment that you want the calendula package, your chances of winning are very good.
Have a love-filled weekend.

24 Responses leave one →
  1. March 4, 2011

    I love his hair in this photo.

  2. March 4, 2011

    Hmm, I remember cucumbers too, Col! This time of year is the hardest – after waiting all winter and so close to having fresh veggies out of the garden. I think I might try some pickles this year too!

  3. March 4, 2011

    Hey, Rachel, It’s CSA sign-up time, and reading this post, I recollect that last year we got way more cucumbers than I knew what to do with. But they came to us two or so at a time (the shares come once each week). If I try to pickle some of them this year, is it okay to have some hang out in the fridge until I have enough to pickle a big batch at once?

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 4, 2011


      It’s best to pickle cucumbers as fresh as possible. But, you could get a big jar, gallon or half gallon, and pickle your cucumbers as they arrive. You would keep them in the fridge, rather than canning them, which is good for enzyme-preservation anyway. Make a brine (vinegar, water, garlic, dill, salt, etc…) and add cucumbers as you get them. They will last a long time in the fridge. Feel free to check back in with me for further explanation when the cukes start rolling in.

      • Audrey permalink
        March 4, 2011

        Just wanted to throw in my two cents: I LOVE single-jar canning. I read some article a woman wrote about just doing one jar at a time, and it was an epiphany to me! Within a month, I turned a bunch of CSA-sourced grapes with big seeds in them into 1/2 pint of grape jelly, and I was hooked!

        So, for what it’s worth, consider a half pint of bread-and-butter pickles this week, half pint of garlicky kosher pickles next week, etc.

  4. March 4, 2011

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m just starting to read yours and it’s making me absurdly happy. I too try to connect my kid to nature through food. I have not done very well getting him to garden yet, since I seem to be too neurotic and disorganized to get a garden going in my tiny backyard, but hope springs eternal — maybe this spring will be the time. And what you said about events in life with kids not having a definite ending point, after which you can ruminate, but just keeping on coming like waves (I may be wildly off here, but that was my sense), is so unutterably true that I’m still shaking my head in wonder.
    I can’t keep up with the wonder.

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 4, 2011

      Not wildly off at all Catherine, that’s it precisely.

  5. March 4, 2011

    No doubt the pickles are sour enough :o) Col’s face is showing the taste of them LOL.. He was smart enough to “get it” < that in itself is wonderful..

  6. March 4, 2011

    Our cucumbers didn’t make it to pickles last year. While in Mexico, I discovered a new spice and combined with a splash of fresh lime well, they were devoured as quickly as they were harvested. I did make a mental note to grow more cucumbers this summer. :)

  7. March 4, 2011

    wonderful! i just found your blog a little while ago, and am enjoying it very much. i have that same chorus of angels effect every time my kiddo identifies the source of his food, or knows (or knows to ask) whether or not it’s ____ season. :) and i’m chuckling a little bit about your barry manilow comment, because it’s the same exact thing i gave family and friends for christmas (both the seeds and the salve- you can’t help but save those calendula seeds, man! hehehe.)

  8. Ami permalink
    March 4, 2011

    Just curious if you have ever lacto fermented your pickles? I think I’m gonna give that a try this year….????

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 4, 2011

      Ami I always thought I would try that when both kids are wiping their own bottoms proficiently, or at some other such milestone. But, I must say no one calls me into the bathroom anymore, even to inspect a wiped bum, so maybe this is the year. You?

  9. March 4, 2011

    Love love love this (and the Rhythm of the Home article). I read an environmental education study once some time ago that interviewed people in environment related jobs. They were asked how they got interested in doing what they were doing. Almost to a person, it was not a field trip with a school or a classroom experiment that fueled their love of the outdoors, it was UNSTRUCTURED TIME to play in nature. And that does not need to be hiking to some wilderness area. A 1/8 garden plot will do just fine, thank you. Good work Mama.

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 4, 2011

      Jen, that almost brings tears to my eyes: the simplicity and importance of giving children unstructured time in nature, even if yes, it’s a 1/8 acre urban backyard. Amen.

  10. March 4, 2011

    Nice! Love it. (I especially love Rose’s footwear–pink high heels, crocs on the wrong foot). I recently officially handed over all gardening duties to my husband (whereas before there was an unwritten understanding that once the kiddos were more self-sufficient I would don my sunbonnet and join him in the weeds), by saying, “I’ve decided that…you’re a really good gardener.” But I suppose I could engage enough to encourage a cherry tomato and mud spot for the boys (who have always done more gardening than me, even though they’ve so far been my excuse to avoid those duties!)

  11. March 4, 2011

    That is so cool that you can make your own pickles. And so funny that we both wrote about pickles on the same day. How long do you have to keep them in the jar?

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 6, 2011

      They seem to last a long time in the fridge. Couple months maybe?

  12. March 4, 2011

    Oh, that face of Cole’s says so much! GOod for him for making connections. I could almost hear the wheels turning through the internet wires.

    I made pickles for the first time last year. I only made one batch of dill, and those were gone so quickly. The sweet chips and bread-and-butter pickles are languishing in the pantry. I guess I’m the one who likes them best, and because of my food allergies, I made a lot to get me through. That and the sweet relish. I am actually going to plant cucumbers this year so I have enough to make more dill pickles to satiate my family. Yep. This is the year. If I get to it…

  13. Shannon R. permalink
    March 4, 2011

    I have a 4.5 year old who was a 26.5 week preemie. (long story, he;s doing great)
    Long story short. He had his tonsils and adenoids out last summer. We were very nervous, very… We found a great coloring book on line for him to color that explained and let him understand in his own way a bit better. We also did lots of research. I was very set on him getting Verced (sp.) an medication to allow him to “forget” the whole experience to reduce post traumatic stress. The day of the surgery the anesthesiologist was so wonderful with our son he said that he would be fine with out it. Well he was not…. He is a very intelligent, sensitive boy and he was so upset and had post traumatic stress for about 6 weeks after the surgery. Funny, pain was not the issue it was the event of hospitalization and waking up from anesthesia that was the worst. Good news is he is fine now, doing great, sleeping really well, and growing like a weed!
    Good luck Mama! you can email me with any questions
    ps. have 2 more boys (twins born @29 weeks)

  14. March 4, 2011

    I just read your article for ROTH and it resonated very deeply with me. I’m also another gardening mama of little ones and find the time in the garden with them is sometimes sacred, sometimes hectic, and always a wonderfully splendid mess.

    I also leave one cherry tomatoe, beans, peas and hearty herbs at the ready for the littles to eat…and man they pack away the parsley like no body’s business.

    happy to find your blog through ROTH; you may like my spring vegetable memory set i designed for the magazine this quarter, it’s under ‘celebration’.

    happy gardening!

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 10, 2011

      Mandy, your spring vegetable set is sweet. Have you ever made chimichurri from parsley? If you type it into the search on my blog, there should be a recipe. Boy do we LOVE chimichurri ’round here.

      Take care, Rachel

  15. March 5, 2011

    Love your article about kids in the garden. Good stuff, great ideas. I like imagining my kids are your kids’ ages.

    Ooooh I cannot wait for seed planting time! It feels so far away right now as out plot is still tucked under many inches of snow.

    Count me out for your lovely giveaway! I already won once (wearing lavender lip balm now!).


  16. March 5, 2011

    That last picture is fantastic!

  17. March 5, 2011

    i love this. thanks rachel.

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