While my ham and beans are complete with some chopped onions (apparently DSis and my upbringing diverge when it comes to onions…), Wonderful Guy’s memories include something called piccalilli on the ham and beans of his youth.
Piccalilli that his grandmother canned…
Hmmm…that’s a tough an act to follow.
Of course there's not a 'historical' recipe, so I searched the internet and found about a million ‘Grandma’s best-ever old-fashioned piccalilli recipe’ or various derivations thereof. There seemed to be a couple running variations, and I chose with the following criteria:
- I should have most, if not all, the seasonings/spices on hand (or be able to make do).
- It should not required sitting in a stone crock with brine overnight (I have a stone crock, but it's sort of old, being an antique..).
Armed with two likely recipes, I headed to the farmer’s market and picked up the onions and peppers required. Then I headed to the basement to assess my canning supplies.
I have canned plenty in the distant past. I put up a lot of veggies when the girls were young. It was educational and felt good and saved lots of money at a time when there didn’t seem to be enough and also took a whole lot of energy when I hardly had any to spare. I have toted my canner and all my jars with me in all my moves since I left
in 1983. There has been a bit of putting by that has happened along the way, but not like back then. Yet I have not been able to let these things go. Texas
And Saturday, when I wanted to put up some pumpkin for pies, and make some piccalilli for The Guy, I didn’t have to do anything but…unpack those boxes. Oh. MY. I have about 12 or 14 dozen quart jars and maybe 2 dozen pints, along with a dozen jelly jars. I found plenty of rings, and enough flats to do Saturday’s work.
I could not find my mother’s food grinder. For the life of me, I cannot place where I have put it (and I don’t believe I would have gotten rid of it). Therefore, I was reduced to cutting and chopping all the vegetables for the piccalilli, which worked pretty well. The pumpkin I split and baked, then put through Mom’s fruit and vegetable press (another hi-tech item that I have carried with me forevah…). According to the USDA guidelines, it is no longer considered safe to can pumpkin puree, so after smooshing it through the press, I filled two pint jars, sealed them, let them cool, and stuck them in the freezer.
Very easy, and makes me want to do more! But really, how many pints of pumpkin do I need per year?
I added the seasonings and spices to the piccalilli and started it cooking. When The Guy came in from riding the motorcycle, he said it smelled like piccalilli, so I felt I might be on the right track. Not ever having had piccalilli, though, I was sort of operating in unknown territory. Forging ahead, I finished following the recipe and filled the jars.
There is a time in canning that the seals take, and the lids ‘pop’. When I hear that distinctive pop, I know I have done something right. That gives me a buzz, and when those ‘pops’ started on Saturday, I was suddenly taken back to those summer days in Texas, when my mom was visiting my family, helping with the girls, and showing me what she remembered about stocking up.
Except she never showed me piccalilli.