Thursday, September 11, 2008

spanish pickles.

yesterday, i was honored to learn the art of making spanish pickles. "what are spanish pickles?" you ask. some folks say it is something made up by my grandmother in law, dorothy. if you look up "spanish pickles" on the internet you might find a recipe or two. but not much else. i first heard about them from my mother in law, rita. she says they are good with beans. and so every time we have beans, i get to hear how rita could "sure use a jar of spanish pickles" and that there's "nothing like 'em" and that "it's been years" since she had a jar. well, i like beans. i like pickles. my curiosity was sparked.

and since i moved to the farm and began to garden, i decided i should also learn how to can & jar. i thought it would be a good idea to figure out what to do with all my tomatoes. and up to two weeks ago, i had an abundance. i was making spaghetti sauce, using 10 tomatoes at a time. and guess what is a major ingredient in "spanish pickles"???? tomatoes. green tomatoes to be exact. so i talked to rita, and rita talked to dorothy, and we agreed we should schedule a time to make a batch spanish pickles while dorothy still remembers how. but then disaster struck. we had a big storm last week and my garden was plagued by a second invasion of hornworms. oh the revisited horror! overnight, a newer bigger uglier batch of hornworms emerged and devoured about 80% of my garden. not only did they eat the leaves, they ate my green tomatoes. next year, it won't be like this. i will be prepared. i will have an arsenal of deterrents up my sleeve. and i will start my first plan of defense this fall by properly turning the soil and composting. but i digress....

getting back to pickles... rita scheduled a "spanish pickle making night" with me, dorothy, rita and her sister, glenda. the ever resourceful dorothy got her hands on some fresh green tomatoes. and we gathered to record this family tradition. here is what i learned....

spanish pickles are made of equal parts of green tomatoes & cabbage. they are chopped in a food processor. and placed into a big pot. white vinegar, canning salt, and red pepper flakes are added for taste. then the pot is placed on stove and boiled just until the mixture starts to turn a darker color. then contents are lightly drained of juice and placed into mason jars. jars were not boiled, but securely fastened by my father in law, glenn. the mixture inside is still hot and you can hear it "popping" the seals shut as they sit. then, jars sit for at least a week, and... voila, spanish pickles! serve with beans, or crackers, or whatever you like.

i still don't exactly know what spanish pickles are. you can add green peppers to the mix. you can add onions. you can make them extra hot or not so hot. you can add more of the juice or less. some folks like 'em. some folks don't. me, i can't wait to try them. 6 more days!

chopped green tomatoes

food processorized

add pepper, salt & vinegar

cook, can & voila!

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