Below is my first guest blogger. My wife and I have known Debbie for about 20+ years and we get together as couples about once a month. Debbie is one of the most gifted people that I know. She knows guitar, can paint, take terrific photographs, repurpose furniture, creates crafty magnets, and makes delicious desserts. She’s in the process of opening up a shop on Etsy and you will soon be able to find some of her great creations here:
I hope you enjoy!
By Debbie Stewart:
It is day six of the great watermelon-rind-pickle science project I am undertaking. I call it a science project because it feels like that. Each time, the outcome will be a jar of pickles, but the recipe is not an exact science. You have to try and test and try again, but it always requires more than just measuring, heat and time. You also have to cook by feel and smell and sight.
I have helped my mother many times over the years to make this recipe, but now I am taking it from day one to day ten largely by myself. My mother helped me on day five, which is the first day of making the syrup. I anticipate that she will help me on day ten when we must boil the syrup for the last time and pack the pickles in jars to be processed through a canning bath. And at the end I hope to have learned by doing how to keep this tradition alive.
It takes all of ten days to make the pickles. From the trimming of the rinds to the boiling of the syrup, each day has a duty in the cycle of the pickle. Some days it is a soak in salt water to the last day when the pickles get put into jars and dropped into a canning bath. Each step has a purpose. Today was a relatively easy day of boiling the syrup, which on the first day of boiling was, as my mother said it would be, thick as taffy.
These pickles are an old-school recipe passed down from my great grandmother Harriet Lincoln Gibboney. Great Grandmother Gibboney was my dad’s grandmother. She lived in Roanoke, Va., in a two-story Queen Ann-style house. For me these pickles are a deep Southern food tradition nestled in the heart of Virginia. And they are sweet. Just as you would expect from the South. Sweet and crunchy.
My mother was wise enough to ask for the recipe from my dad’s family and brave enough to attempt making and mastering them. Now I appreciate them and want to learn to make and master them myself. It is worth preserving and passing on. It is good to remember our roots and to keep our traditions. Chef Carla Hall says that food should be made with love. I believe that sentiment is true. So if you happen to recieve a jar of watermelon-rind pickles from me or my mom, we are giving you a little love steeped in family tradition.