Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Debra's Icicle Pickles

(Fall) Memories of Country Pickles
Debra Sturdevant
From the Sept/Oct 16 issue of The Essential Herbal
Illustration also by Debra Sturdevant - The Country Artist
The seasons come, the seasons go. My family is long gone now but memories are well seated. I still live here on my beloved country hill where I spent my youth exploring fields and forests, catching fireflies in mom's Mason jars under the summer stars and sitting with Mom and Dad on the old country porch listening to stories I would carry on.  I still reside here on the hill and prepare for the long northern winter in the same manner my folks did. Dad was the gardener and my mother was the herbalist and  kitchen coordinator pairing their handed down skills to make this old house a home.
In September when I was back in school down in the valley I always wondered what my Mom was creating in her country kitchen as I watched the clock on the classroom wall waiting anxiously for the bus ride home. After what seemed like an eternity of travel on the old dusty roads and endless stops I would arrive at my own long driveway.
The fondest of all my Fall memories is the scent that greeted me emanating through the screen door of sweet and spicy Icicle pickles. I always tried to steal a chunk or two from the old black canner before she packed them  into a lined up army of steaming mason jars. I don't think any other garden harvest can compare to this sweet piece of heaven especially when old man winter arrives. Many folks like to hurry recipes in this hectic day and age but nothing can surpass the flavor rewarded from an old fashioned crock cured pickle that is removed daily to have spices and sugar added then heated sending the most lovely scent of cloves and spices throughout the house. Each Fall I bring a piece of my childhood back through the scent and taste of mom's wonderful pickles I now share with you...

Icicle Pickles
(crisp,spicy, and sweet)

About 24 pickling cucumbers (2gal)
Split, quartered, remove seeds if large.
1. Dissolve 1 pint canning salt in one gallon boiling water and pour over cukes in large enamel pan or crock. Cover and let stand three days
2. Drain and cover with fresh boiling water without salt let stand 24 hours
3. Drain and cover with fresh boiling water with alum the size of an egg. Let stand 24 hours
4. Drain
5. In separate pot mix:
    2 1/2 qts apple cider vinegar
    16 cups sugar
     2 tablespoons pickling spice
     1 teaspoon of whole cloves
     2 sticks of cinnamon
6. Bring liquid to a boil and pour over cucumbers and let stand 24 hours
7. Each of the next four days drain off the liquid, bring to a boil and pour over the pickles. On the fourth day can.
Mom added on the bottom of the yellowed recipe card in her own penciled handwriting "Yum!" and "Yum" they are.