Tag: Pickles

Old and New: In a Pickle

 

pickle fermentation2021 puts conservatives and anyone right of Jane Fonda in a pickle. Some very bad old ideas are back in new and far more weaponized forms. Yet, the future does not ultimately belong to the left, nor need the next few years. We can bend the arc of history with time and effort. Speaking of time and effort, let’s talk pickles.

I grew up in a family that had a large vegetable garden every year, yard space provided. This necessarily led to freezing and canning. For whatever reason, cucumbers were never, to my memory, a part of my mother’s garden. We had plenty of squash, and tomatoes in places where they would ripen. Zucchini squash was shredded and packed into small freezer containers for use all through the winter months, hopefully used up just about when the next season’s crop was small, tender squash. Tomatoes went into larger Mason jars as stewed tomatoes, or chutney or governor’s sauce for meat. It took me a few decades to follow the family canning tradition.

I started canning about three years ago, driven by a surplus of lemons from a friend’s lemon tree and a desire to reproduce a tomato jelly recipe I had discovered at a microbrewery. I like good beer and started home brewing after my initial Army tour in West Germany, when it was West Germany. Put a pin in the home brewing. Accordingly, I also like trying new small breweries’ products. The Sleepy Dog Brewery had a tasting room at the front end of their brewery and food trucks on high volume nights. This included a pizza oven trailer, supplemented with pretzel dough buns topped with cream cheese and tomato jelly. So, a great deal on the right kind of tomatoes merged with a recipe search, generating my first batch of tomato jelly.

In a Pickle Over Regulations

 

On my first trip to DC, an immigrant cabbie pointed out buildings to college-aged me. As he highlighted the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and every other building I already knew, we drove by an imposing monolith near the mall. “What’s that?” I asked. “Oh, that’s the Department of Agriculture,” he said.

As it turned out, it was just the south building of the USDA, the largest office building in the world until the Pentagon was built. Next door is the USDA’s massive Jamie L. Whitten Building, which covers four acres by itself. What on earth do they do in there? I wondered.

Well, now I know. Over the weekend, I read just one of their regulations — 23 pages dedicated to pickles. Your tax dollars paid bureaucrats to mandate that a “small gherkin” must be less than 2.4 cm in diameter, whereas a “large gherkin” can have a diameter of up to 2.7 cm.