Harvest time is upon us and we have been busy at the Community Center. Our best event so far has definitely been the picklin’ night. We had between 30 and 40 participants show up for pickling night. With about four bushels of cucumbers, some donated and some purchased and our share table full with onions, cauliflower, okra, peppers we began the process. We began at six and folks were finishing the last batches after nine.
Again, our demonstration was led by Elizabeth Ison, GA participant and long time canner and recipe gatherer from the best in the community. We used the Mrs. Wages packaged pickle spices and made our own pickling recipe for some. This recipe was a tried and true recipe from Hazel Rayburn, gardener and preserver and we felt good using her recipe as she passed away earlier this year and are happy to remember her. Her recipe calls for equal parts vinegar and sugar, with a tea bag, we used coffee filter corner tied with pickling spices in it and bring to a boil, pour over vegetables to pickle add salt and seal. I’m looking forward to sharing pickled okra some morning.
The crowd was amazing and worked so well together, I suppose we weren’t quite prepared for the number present, but all pitched in, patiently waited turns for dill, bread and butter or pickling juice of choice to fill their jars. We used almost every container in the center to cut and prep veggies for pickling. The center smelled of strong spice and laughter and encouragement echoed among friends/neighbors. Young and old were equally excited to be making their own pickles.
We had a guest from New Jersey, who has been a friend of the center for many years join with us on her visit to friends and the community. She is a teacher there and will share her pickles with her class along with stories of the people she knows and loves in Appalachia. It’s a good thing having ambassadors for our community in other parts of the world to dispel stereotypes and share our strengths.
We always try to have good food at our events and this night we had homemade pimento cheese and brownies. We are always trying to move in a healthy direction in eating habits. (I know brownies weren’t the best choice, but I did not buy white bread, only wheat and rye.)
At the end of the night participants left with a dozen jars of homemade pickles and supplies to make at home. Total we canned almost 20 dozen jars of pickles and the like.
This was an event you really had to be at to see the magic of it. Our GA intern was working diligently to keep jars bathed and only breaking to help see that his grandma had what she needed. It was pretty amazing when a young boy, about ten is working as hard as he can to help keep things running smoothly comes out and announces to a room full of busy people, “jars are ready” and all take notice of his leadership and confidence with the crowd. Again we had our youngest participant, not yet one and our more experienced gardeners working together. Mothers and their children enjoying the night, asking for their picture taken, husbands and wives….a community brought together to make pickles.