Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mustard Pickles

I started making a batch of mustard pickles yesterday.  It is my grandmother/aunt's recipe and as I was cutting up the vegetables to put into the brine I felt so connected to those two women.

As I sliced each stalk of celery, peeled each small silverskin onion, handled each tiny dill pickle and cut the cauliflower into flowerets I though of how many gallons of pickles they had made over the years.

My aunt taught my sister and daughter and me how to make the pickles about twenty years ago.

She taught us before her dementia had truly taken her from us, and that day in her little kitchen is one I hold dear to my memory.

I have only been making them for a few years but I remember the first time I made the pickles on my own I had wished I had paid more attention to the smaller details, but still, and all, my pickles taste like hers.

Last year for the first time I decided to also make their pickled onions.  I only made six jars but every time I opened one and tasted the first onion it reminded me of their preserves cellar, their cold cupboard, their warm kitchen.

To be honest those pickles just tasted like home. And love.

I am going to spend today sterilizing bottles, blanching the vegetables, making the mustard sauce and putting up the pickles for the winter just as Granny and Georgie did numerous times.

And tomorrow I will do the onions.

I am using their stoneware crock, their hand-written recipe and their love is infused in it all.

And also, I didn't forget

My father died forty-four years ago yesterday.  My grandmother was his mother.  My aunt was his sister.  And in starting those pickles yesterday, for a brief moment, I had them all in my little kitchen.


  1. Continuation of family recipes is wonderful! Unfortunately I didn't have preserve-making relatives. 42 years since we lost our father, and that has to be the biggest hole created in my and Blair's lives. Mom gone too with dementia, but I make the best roast beef dinner in the world through observing the Sunday tradition. Oh, perfect pie pastry and silky porridge from Grandma's instructions. Good memories in the kitchen

    1. Yes Sunday roast beef dinners!! My Mum made the best yorkshire pudding, but unfortunately because of my gluten free status I can't make them (not that I ever could match her brilliance.)

  2. The tastes and smells of home strong, so precious. Did your family use vegetables from the home garden, or a neighbour's? I remember how my grandmother swapped her grapefruit and apricots for the neighbour!s plums when it was jam making season.

    1. They used their own berries in their jams and their own cucumbers in their pickles, but they didn't grow cauliflower or celery that I know of. They did grow green onions, but the recipe calls for the tiny silverskin or pearl onions. They did pickles beans and beets from their garden. I loved being in their garden. So many bumblebees around and the fresh garden salads were amazing.

  3. That's very sweet Mary-Anne :) I'm very much in tune with my that I mean, I feel like everything I create in there is full of love, so I really relate to your feelings as you made the pickles. I feel that same way when I make a few dishes that my Grandfather loved. He never taught me how to make them, but it conjures up memories of how wonderful a man he was and it makes me all happy inside. :)

  4. My step mother was the preserver in my life. She made the best tomato butter. No fried egg tastes as good as with her tomato butter. And she made a sweet pickled green bean. She would open a jar and drain them, add a bit of mayonnaise - best bean salad ever. I have the tomato butter recipe. Those pickled beans are alive only in my memory.

  5. How lovely to be able to make your own pickles, and even more special that it brings back memories of such special people. :-)


Add your thoughts....join the conversation.