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Sweet garlic refrigerator pickles

A sweet pickle that will win over even those who say they don't like pickles.

By The Runaway Spoon / August 19, 2011

An old-fashioned recipe that begins with already pickled cucumbers.

The Runaway Spoon

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My father calls my house a kitchen with a bedroom. He’s basically right. I spent over six months renovating to have the big kitchen of my dreams. I even planted a small garden, though I have a black thumb and a streak of laziness.

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The Runaway Spoon

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I recall that first summer in my new kitchen as my “prairie house wife days.” Oddly, I had this idea in my head that I was someone who “put things by.” Making jams and pickles and preserves and having a whole shelf in my new pantry full of glowing little jars of homemade treats, whipping out fresh dill pickles (cucumbers, I had hoped, from my own garden) for hamburger diners, spreading biscuits with my own preserves. I attempted to grow the ingredients myself (a failure except for herbs, at which I am kind of a whiz). I made regular visits to the farmer’s market and some roadside stands. I read every classic community cookbook from my grandmother’s collection, many from the 1930s and 1940s. I studied the Ball Guide to Canning and Preserving. I looked up guidelines from the agricultural extension service online. I bought cases of jars, a jar lifter, funnel, a big canning pot and went to work.

Pickles. I somehow arrived at the conclusion that pickles are the ultimate canning project. So I purchased just the right cucumbers. I faithfully followed the recipes and rules from the Ball Guide, step-by-step, ingredient-by ingredient. I sliced, I boiled, I mixed, I canned, I sealed, I hot water-bathed. Finally, a cool shelf in my pantry was stocked with Mason jars full of bright green, gleaming testaments to my hard work, just waiting for their unveiling at the appointed time. Everyday, I admired my handiwork, so pleased with my industriousness. And then the time came. According to my guide book, the pickles were sufficiently pickled for eating. I proudly presented a jar to my father, a noted pickle-lover, waiting for his verdict.

After an appropriate interval of several days, my father reluctantly issued his opinion: Not very good. He was polite and sweet and politic, but as honest as a parent should be. My pickles were not very good. Not the right texture, not very much flavor. Obviously, I was disappointed. “But Daddy, I did everything right, just like the recipe. Can they really be that bad.” Yes, they were. And then he asked me: “PC, do you even like pickles?”

Hmmm. I had to admit to myself, and of course to him, that no, I don’t particularly like pickles. This is not something that occurred to me before I embarked on this mission. Why, I will never know. I had spent hours and dollars fulfilling this nonsensical image of myself as a prairie house wife (I live no where near a prairie by the way), “putting things by.” The failed pickles were disposed of, the jars washed and used to hold flowers, the pantry shelf eventually filled with canned goods. My prairie housewife days were over.

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