A different kind of pickle maker | Tess Tales

Courtesy of mixedgreensblog

Courtesy of mixedgreensblog

When I was young my mother canned a lot of food. She had a garden and preserved as much as she could. Her freezer was in the refrigerator and measured a foot square so freezing wasn’t an option. We had to save that for important things like ice cream.

As I got older, she did less canning. One year I bought her a small freezer and she froze more but she always canned pickles. You really can’t freeze pickles.

Pickle canning happens in August when the bulk of the pickling cucumbers are ripe. Think of an old house with no air conditioning during August. Temperatures bounced around 90 degrees with the humidity bouncing there too.

It was hot, hot, hot.

I helped with this. She did a boiling water bath with pint and quart jars. There was a hot brine bubbling too. We were lifting and slicing and mixing.

My mother made beer pickles. That’s what she called them. They tasted a lot like bread and butter pickles and maybe a few jars of dill pickles or sweet gherkins. But they were all beer pickles.

We would start early on a Saturday. As the day went on it got hotter and hotter and the sweat would start to roll. (No! Not into the pickles, just soaking our clothes!)

That’s when the beer came out. She didn’t put the beer in the pickles; she put it in the pickle makers. That would be the two of us. After a while, we were all giggly and laughing.

She always had a ham and cheese sandwich for us. Yes, of course, with spicy mustard, horseradish, a pickle and a glass of cold beer.

Yum! Great pickles! My Mom sure knew how to make great pickles and make it fun too!

31 thoughts on “A different kind of pickle maker | Tess Tales

  1. Your canning and pickling experiences take me back to when I was a teen and we lived in the country. My Mom also canned vegetables we grew, or what she bought at the Farmers’ Market, or traded with our neighbors. Yes, I do remember making pickles. As I recall, Mom made the dill pickles and I made the gherkins. We had them in a huge crock pot down in our cool cellar and we routinely skimmed the brine from the top. When they were done, what a treat they were.


    • We didn’t make them in the crock. We put the cucumbers in jars (and I can’t remember if there was any blanching) and then put a hot brine over the top and sealed them. Then they went into the water bath. We did try the crock thing one year and that stuff on the top gets kind of weird looking.


  2. I don’t remember my mother ever pickling anything, but I do remember she used to make a lot of jam. Jars and jars of it. Last month, for the first time in my life, I had a go at making some myself. It turned out not at all bad.
    She also used to make a wonderful cream cheese from the 2 inches of cream at the top of the milk bottle (in England, when I was a child, milk was delivered in bottles and left on one’s doorstep by the milkman). But you can’t get the right kind of milk here, so I can’t do that. She would take the cream, and hang it in a muslin bag from the bath-tap, till most of the liquid drained off and the cream would curdle, then she’d add chopped up onions. At least, I think that’s how she did it. I was so young then, it’s hard to remember…


  3. Oh geez what’s not to love about this post. Beer, pickles, ham and cheese sandwiches, giggles and laughter. AND 90 degree temps, which I normally wouldn’t be too happy about. But with a negative 6 degrees this morning this summer post of pickles and beer is heavenly!


  4. Ahhh starting my day off with a Tess tale is just all warm and fuzzy. I love the thought of throwing in a couple of cold ones to forget about the heat, it’s much easier to endure with a buzz. This tale is a testament to the fact that moms are more than moms…they’re people too. Loved it!


  5. My mom made jam and canned peaches, pears, plums, and applesauce. Her method of peeling the peaches made it easy: Drop a few peaches in boiling water just long enough. Take them out and cool them, and the skin just slides off.
    On evenings when there wasn’t enough time to cook dinner, she made scrambled eggs and toast to be served with canned peaches. She refused to buy canned peaches in the grocery store. According to her, they were disgusting–all slimy and tasteless. I agree.


  6. You know I love me some Tess stories! I don’t think my mom knows where to buy pickles in a grocery store, let alone putting up her own. True of me too I guess. I love hearing about cozy families who do domestic stuff.


    • I know I’ve told you this before but my Mom would fit in your family just fine (except she was Catholic — but hey, she loved latkes too). She was occasionally loud and definitely outspoken. No shy flower here.


  7. Loved your pickle-making story. Reminded me of a time when my mother lent my sister and me out to a friend to help her can peaches. We peeled and peeled and peeled those d*mn peaches until the cows came home, and there was no beer in sight. We did, however, have a lot of laughs, and even managed to engage in a pit-throwing contest. Good memories.


  8. My mom did LOTS of canning too ~ pickles, chutneys, jams, jellies, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, marmalade, dilled green beans, peaches, etc.

    Her bread and butter pickles were my favorite. And her Peach Melba sauce from fresh raspberries.


  9. Quality time together with pickles, beer and a ham and cheese sandwich…it doesn’t get any better than that! My mom used to make a ton of strawberry preserves. I would always sneak the strawberries.


  10. Beer pickles, oh my, what fun! My MIL canned pickles. I rarely had to buy them as was also the case with other produce. She literally sent us home with grocery bags –paper bags, remember them?– of Romaine, cabbage, cucumbers, yellow squash, green beans, black-eyed peas, peaches and pears. I took it upon myself to can the peaches as there was no way we could eat so many and it was wonderful to have them all year round. I do remember peeling all those peaches left my fingers yellow for about a week.


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