I can vividly remember in my early childhood, having not one but two Grandmothers who pickled foods in their kitchens. Was there anything in the world that tasted better than the ears of corn in those big crocks at Grandma McCunes house? Well, if there was, it was probably to be found at Grandma Withrows house in a big jar on the counter!
They both could be found in their kitchens in late Summer, chopping and slicing and brining the cabbages, beans, corn, and green tomatoes that remained in the late summer garden. Grandma Withrow always made a version of Chow Chow using the little green tomatoes, onions, cabbage and sometimes cauliflower or a green pepper. She was the only person I know of that didn't make it with sugar! Grandma McCune pickled green beans and corn together in her biggest crocks, layering the beans and corn covered at the top with a scalded plate and a large smooth rock to hold everything down. Her other churn was used for Green Tomato Kraut... Chopped cabbage with a mix of little stunted green tomato chunks. It may not "sound" lovely but believe me... it was all pure ambrosia!
As I grew up, my own Mother made pickled corn and beans in her kitchen, and after I was grown I continued the traditions in my own house for my own kids! This week, we took time to do a version of Green Tomato Kraut here at the farm. I rarely use the crocks for mine... it just seems simpler to make it in jars with lids and bands. If one jar happens to go bad, the mess is contained in one jar and the other jars aren't spoiled.
Like both Grandmothers, the Almanac is my best friend for all things food related! I plant and harvest, pickle foods and set chicken eggs, all by the signs of the moon! Why? Well, I suppose I do it for the connection it brings to those two women who helped shape my opinions on things. Because it's a tradition from a simpler time. A time when everyone lived closer to the land and lived more earnest and useful lives than what so many live today. It pays its' respects to the Pennsylvania Dutch families on both sides of my "tree" who were frugal and honest, hard working yet simple. And it is yet one more way that I can teach my boys to be self sufficient in a world gone askew from the values of simple living a century ago.