Avert your gaze, we’re kinda busy

Spicy dills!

By Laura Grimes

Sorry we’ve been neglecting the blog. Mr. Scatter is finally home and we’re in the throes of passion.

We’re making pickles. (What were YOU thinking?)

As you’ll recall, we’re The Condiment Family. In fact, we even have our own motto:

Practice safe snacking. Always use a condiment.

Read last year’s pickle post here. It’s about love, death and those crunchy little cucumbers — sometimes sweet and sometimes sour.

Making pickles is a many-day endeavor that begins easily enough with a many-store shopping trip.

Weeks ahead of time, when the canner is still just a gleam on the calendar, we horde jars and lids and rings and pickling spices. Then we realize we don’t have enough of any of them and we buy more.

At some point in late August/early September we block out several days in a row, stock up on Deep Heating Rub and head to the farm to buy a cartful of cucumbers. We buy peppers and garlic.

This is what greeted us when we arrived at the farm:

Alvin the Farm Dog

Auspicious? Get this. The nice man minding the tomatoes said the chihuahua’s name is Alvin. When we asked, “Alvin?” He said, “Yeah, as in Alvin and the Chipmunks.” True story, made the more interesting because of this.

This year we picked up 50 pounds of pickling cukes and 5 gallons of vinegar.

We washed the virgin cukes:

Virgin Cukes

And found a surprise:

Conjoined twins

Conjoined twins!

Mr. Scatter is in charge of the pickle prep table, where the magic of packing the jars happens:

Pickle prep

After washing and packing and filling and screwing and a hot bath, we got this:

40 quarts of dills and 8 pints of sweets

It took only 7 hours and 4 trips to the store (plus many more). It took only 7 hours more to clean the kitchen. The final tally? 40 quarts of spicy dills and 8 pints of sweets. We hadn’t counted on doing sweets this year, but I found a packet of leftover spices from last year that were already mixed. Unexpectedly, that seriously cut into the sugar supply and we nearly ran out. Coming down the homestretch I had to rummage through cupboards and the car for little packets. How stupid is that?

On to apple chutney!