The winter was wearing on to spring, when I had a shock. I was making a sandwich, and used up the last of the bread and butter pickles.
It was no big deal. I could just go down into the basement and get another jar. Except that—when I went down the stairs to get one– there were no jars of pickles in the basement! I panicked. No pickles! I was quite aware that I hadn’t made any last summer. Lisa’s garden had been rich in beans, poor in cucumbers that year. And, lest you get the wrong impression, I am not really into canning much. I make jam and pickles, and occasionally put up tomatoes, if I have a lot. That is all.
But, ever since I was a child, there was ALWAYS another jar of bread-and-butter pickles in the basement. I looked among the jars of grape jam, hoping to find a stray quart of pickles that Robby’s sister Debby had made and given at Christmas along with her delicious pickled beets.
But Debby’s pickles were gone as well.
It would be a long wait and a lot of dry sandwiches till summer’s first excess of cucumbers.
I know, I know–I could have bought pickles. Yes, grocery stores sell them. I have eyed the jars suspiciously over the years. But this variety of pickles does not come from the store. It comes up from the basement. That’s all I have to say about that.
June came, and Lisa opened her garden to visitors on a beautiful cloudy Saturday. As I directed guests toward the flower beds, I could hardly contain my excitement. I had noticed several club-shaped cucumbers on vines in the kitchen garden! Everyone else wanted the skinny ones. I took these babies home and got busy.
These pickles are easy and delicious to make. You can buy packets of mix, or you can follow the directions from the Mennonite Community Cookbook, as I did
We are now in pickle heaven again! And, down in the dark cellar, there is a beautiful row of jars all ready for many sandwiches to come.
Susan Yoder Ackerman is a writer and gardener in Newport News, Virginia. Both her writing and her gardening are enhanced by tending a century-old family farmhouse and eight grandchildren that come and go. You can email Susan at [email protected]