No thank you. I don't like pickles.

Last weekend I catered a birthday party for 10-year old twins. As I walked out to the pool area with a tray of sliders the vultures descended. Kids came from everywhere. Hands and arms where flying to try to get a slider when I heard the question, "Are there pickles on it?", to which I replied, "Yes."  The young guest then announced, "I don't like pickles." and  turned and walked away. Doesn't like pickles? Who has ever heard of a kids not liking pickles? And to my surprise he wasn't alone in the crowd of 40 kids!

I love pickles, especially dill. Bread and butter are okay, but there's nothing like a cold, crunchy dill pickle, especially on a peanut butter sandwich made on white Butterkrust bread.  I ate dill pickle and peanut butter sandwiches for most of my 12 years in public school. See, that was before the time of nifty insulated lunch pouches with ice packs and I wasn't a fan of a bologna sandwich made at 6 AM sitting in my locker until the noon lunch bell rang. My lunch buddies made the most awful faces each time I pulled out my sandwich and bit into it. I just couldn't convince them that it really tasted great. Finally one of our crowd, Billy Fletcher, decided to be brave and take a bite of my sandwich. To his surprise he liked it!

I went to college at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Atkins was a small town about 30 miles from Conway. The Atkins Pickle Comapny was the major industry in the town and was the source of the pickles that ended up on the menus of the local drive-ins as fried dill pickles. We made many a fried dill pickle run in those 4 years of college. There was nothing better. We were in heaven!

This got me to thinking about the origin of pickles. Thanks to the modern day encyclopedia called Google, I found some interesting tidbits.

  • The history of pickles stretches so far back into antiquity that no definite time has been established for their origin, but they are estimated to be over 4000 years old.
  • In 2,030 B.C. cucumbers native to India were brought to the Tigris Valley. There, they were first preserved and eaten as pickles.
  • Cucumbers are mentioned twice in the Bible (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8) and history records their usage over 3000 years ago in Western Asia, ancient Egypt and Greece.
  • Cleopatra attributed a portion of her beauty to pickles.
  • The enjoyment of pickles spread far and wide through Europe. In the 13th century, pickles were served as a main dish at the famous Feast of King John.
  • Pickles were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who is known to have grown them on the island of Haiti.
  • Pickles inspired Thomas Jefferson to write the following: "On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more omforting than a fine spices pickle, brought up trout-like form the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar." Now that must have been some recipe.
And of course there is the Christmas Pickle Legend.
(Yes, I know there are serveral versions of this legend, but I like this one.)

In Europe they have a pickle Christmas tree ornament. As the story goes, two boys were traveling home from boarding school for the holidays. They stopped as an inn where the evil inn keeper robbed them and stuffed them in a pickle barrel. That evening St. Nicholas also stopped at the inn. He rescued the boys, who were able to continue home. Through time, the custom of hanging a pickle as the last ornament on the tree developed. The first child to spot the partially hidden pickle on Christmas morning receives a special gift.

Yes, I do have a pickle Christmas ornament thanks to my friend Barb Curasi. Thanks. Barb!

While it isn't Aunt Sally's recipe here is my mother's Spicy Dill Pickles Recipe:

Mother's Spicy Dill Pickle Recipe
  • cucumbers
  • fresh dill
  • salt
  • red peppers
  • garlic
  • vinegar 
  • red pepper flakes
Put a sprig of dill in the bottom of quart jar. Pack cucumbers in jar. Place 1 clove garlic and 1 small red pepper in jar and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Put 2 tablespoons of salt in jar.

Make a brine: add one cup vinegar to three cups of water and bring to a boil. Pour solution over pickles.
Seal jar and place in a pan of boiling water. Be certain that the lids are covered with the water to ensure a good seal. When cucumbers begin to change from dark green to light green, remove from boiling water and cool. Let sit for a minimum of two weeks before using.

 And, for the record, we did make some sliders without pickles!