It's become an obsession. For every fruit and vegetable at the farmers' market, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preservinghas a dozen recipes for pickles, juice, and pie filling, and I want to try them all. So what if I've never had an interest in pickled three bean salad? The beans are there, overflowing their baskets, and I have a recipe. I can, therefore I must.
For Pete's sake, lima beans. I've gone off the deep end.
I always buy too much at the farmers' market. The bright, fragrant vegetables and herbs are intoxicating, and the farmer's pipe smells pretty good, too. Inevitably, I'm drawn in like a moth to the light, like a fly to honey, like a vegan to organic fava beans.
These bread and butter pickles couldn't have been easier—three pounds of sliced cucumber and onion sit in brine for two hours, then simmer briefly in vinegar and seasoning before they're canned and sealed. For old times' sake, I'll also make an English version, with cider vinegar and brown sugar. We can eat twelve pints of pickles this winter if we set our minds to it.
Homemade preserves are handy to have around. Do me an unexpected favor, and I'll probably give you jam. Or pickled lima beans. Depends on your age, and the quality of the favor.
Twenty cups wild blueberries + Two cups sugar + Time + Heat = One hell of an ice cream topping.
When I see my shelves of multicolored jars, I gloat a little. I'm cheating the seasons, storing away summer food. I like self-sufficiency; I would've made a good pioneer. I may not be able to build a barn or drive a Conestoga wagon, but I can pick strawberries and eat them in December. So who needs the grocery store? I've got a farmer and a great big pot of boiling water.