This week I “put up” my refrigerator pickles, and it reminded me of something so funny that happened years ago. The way I make pickles these days sort of feels like cheating. They are not “real” pickles, but rather boiling brine that I pour over jars of Kirby cukes filled with a mix of herbs and spices and garlic that I just guess at until it seems right. They are always so delicious, and we always say that “this year’s are the best.” Every year is the best.
Pickling wasn’t always so casual and peaceful around here, though. When I was younger and crazier, I used to make processed pickles. A whole day, the boiling water, the jars timed and processed, left to cool and make that satisfying popping sound, then stored for the winter. (I used to make my own mustard, as well, and it is delicious. Try it sometime.)
The last time I pickled this way was one August before my kids were born. Rich and I had moved to our first house, and he was making a bathroom out of an unfinished room on the second floor. I made like 6 dozen pints of pickles, a long day’s work. I stored them in a closet upstairs, and looked forward to a winter of plenty. No Claussen’s for me, no sir. I even had an “arrangement” with the produce guy, who put aside the best cukes for me.
One day I went up to get a couple of jars for consumption, opened the closet door, and found 6 dozen pint jars of brine and floaty bits. Richard, during the weeks of construction in the bathroom, had EATEN EVERY PICKLE. When confronted (and confronted is a civilized word for what occurred) he admitted to the crime, but said he hadn’t known how to tell me. “I just kept eating them, and shuffling the jars around to hide the gaps,” he said. “And then it got so there was no hope of hiding it.”
So he has sworn to consume only his jars of pickles, labeled in the fridge. But I’m considering an alarm, just in case.