|Selections from my parents' canning pantry - pickled okra, beets and bread and butter pickles.|
|Uncle A.J. and Aunt Alice (Kocian) Kallus, Hallettsville|
The winter pantries of my parents' childhood did not include pickled turnips. My mother (grew up in Hallettsville) remembers her mother putting up pears and plain pickled beets in her kitchen. My father's mother, a Zielonka (Polish), also did pears and beets, but went to her own parents' house near Cuero in DeWitte County to can with her mother and sisters. They would put up 100 to 125 quarts of things and then divide them up to take home. Her father would butcher a pig and store the meat in crocks covered in lard. He also kept molasses in the smokehouse, bought in a barrel, much to the delight of my Dad and his cousins, who would sneak in and steal the drips from the spigot. My father's grandmother Orsak (Czech) would do crock sauerkraut, as did her boys, George and Jerry. (Their extremely fertile winter garden also yielded cauliflower and kohlrabi, but those were eaten fresh.)
|Of course, the dill was waiting in a cup from Prasek's.|
So, pickling turnips was an interesting prospect for my parents... unusual, but within the realm of possibly being delicious. My Dad (overseen by my Mom) used their standard garlic pickle recipe which includes garlic, dill, and a chile arbol, but allowed himself a variation so that, in one batch, he could figure out which was going to work best. To one jar he deviated from the recipe by adding sugar, pickling spices, and some fresh, chopped jalapeno.
|Dad stuffing the jars with turnips, dill, garlic and a dried chile arbol.|
When I got home to Austin Sunday, my Dad had left me a phone message... "Well, I don't know what they're going to taste like, but damn, they're colorful!... white turnips, red chile, green dill and blue garlic."
If they turn out well, I'll post the recipe. As far as other winter pantry staples, I've found recipes in Czech community cookbooks for sauerkraut, pickled beets, spiced pickled beets, pickled sweet onions, sweet pickled cabbage, canned pears, pear relish and pear butter. I'd love to know about any others you know of, dear blog readers.