It’s raspberry season on the lake. Each morning my daughter and I venture out to collect the now ubiquitous fruit. It will last for two weeks and then vanish for another year. The bounty produces homemade pies, jam and fruit for our morning cereal. Making these things reconnects me to the land, myself and my family. It makes me want to make other things from scratch too.
Last week the New York Times published an article in the dining section about making your own pickles. After purchasing a large bag of Kirby cucumbers from the local farmer’s market I made three jars of pickles in under an hour. I called my son and told him.
“But you hate pickles,” he said.
“No I don’t.”
“Yes, you do,” he insisted.
“Well not anymore, I don’t.”
My first job in high school was working at McDonalds. The giant cans of pickles dumped into a metal bin each morning sickened me. A greasy teenage boy with bad acne flipped the burgers and dropped on the pickles before wrapping them in paper. That image stayed with me and I started to avoid pickles.
In college I read about pickles in Back to Eden. What I read scared me. It made me think my pickle phobia was justified.
Pickles are indigestible; they resist the action of the gastric juice as would pebbles, and cause great irritation and chronic diseases.-Jethro Kloss
I stayed away from pickles for all of my adult life. When my husband ate my pickle from my plate at the local diner I warned him time and again about the dangers of pickles. “They sour in your stomach,” I cautioned him, but to no avail. Soon my children were enjoying pickles. They laughed at my fears and bought quarts of pickles, every variety, from a local flea market stand. These pickles had exotic flavors like cheddar and black pepper pickles or spicy garlic ruby pickles. They smelled enticing and everyone looked like they were enjoying them but I still stayed away.
Then I read somewhere about the benefits of sauerkraut. The fermentation was good for digestion. If sauerkraut was healthy why wasn’t pickles? I decided my fear of pickles was absurd and I started to eat them again after thirty years. I haven’t tasted my own pickles yet but just like the raspberry pie, I can’t wait.