Friday, October 10, 2008

The Wonderful World of Pickles

Okay....quick survey. How many of you out there love pickles? Raise your hand. Okay, you can put them down...I can't see them anyway. Today's random rambling is about the joy that is pickles.

"Pickle" doesn't actually refer to the delicious, green treat you see featured above. Pickling is the process of soaking a food item in brine. People pickle many things, especially in Mississippi, but for the purposes of this discussion, we'll be talking about pickled cucumbers. Like any other "pickled" item could even compare.

My love of pickles started early. Growing up, it seemed we always had at least a couple of different kind of pickles in the fridge. Side note: Pickles taste their best when refrigerated. We had them in many forms: spears, whole, slices, relish, minis....they're all good. I think that I've eaten at least one pickle a day for most of my life. The way I figure it, they taste good and are loaded with vitamin C. It's a no-brainer.

I love pickles so much that I incorporated them into my lessons. For those of you that don't know, November 14th is National Pickle Day. If you need a whole month to celebrate your love of this tasty snack, then May is your month. That's right... May is National Pickle Month. How sad is it that I know this information? After doing some research, I brought my pickle love over to another love--Christmas.

When I taught in Florida, long before standardized testing when totally CRAZY and we could do something educational AND fun, I learned that pickles are a part of Christmas decorations. It's been a long celebrated custom of putting a blown glass pickle ornament on the tree. The kid who found the pickle ornament first on Christmas Day would receive a special gift from St. Nick. The idea here is to focus more on the tree and its beautiful decorations instead of focusing on the presents and the greed that follows. I don't currently practice this custom but it sounds good. The kids always find this craft project fun....can't you just see your face if your kid came home with a homemade pickle ornament and asked to put it on your Christmas tree? Yeah...that's what I thought.

To celebrate pickle day and/or month, I do activities dealing with pickles with the kids. They love to eat and will usually try something new-at least they do when they're with their friends. We study the history of pickles, how pickles are made, and participate in a taste test. That's usually their favorite part. During this thematic day, we discuss how there is a pickle for each month, very similar to a birthstone. Who knew? Doesn't this sound a lot more interesting than..."Turn in your reading books to page 80..."

Pickles have lots of different uses in food as well. We all know that relish is good on hot dogs and slices are good for sandwiches. Now that they have come up with pickles sliced length-wise to go on sandwiches, having pickles on your turkey and cheese takes on a whole new meaning. My mom uses the pickle juice to help flavor her coleslaw. I know...weird, right? I thought so too until I tried my mom's coleslaw. If you ever come over for dinner at my parents' house and you try some, you'll agree.

In addition to the many varieties of pickles in their shape and size, there is also variety in how they taste. I've always enjoyed the traditional dill, but I also really enjoy bread and butter pickles, and sweet pickles. I probably eat more dill pickles than the other kinds, but it's an absolute must that the pickles be kosher dills. Just so you know, kosher in this sense has nothing to do with a rabbi, but more with adding garlic to the brine. There is one type of pickle that I'm not fond of....sour pickles. I think the name says it all. Why bother with something sour when there are so many other yummy options?
Which brings me to the more interesting side of pickles. There are several places in town where you can get fried pickles. Yes, you read that right....pickles that are battered and deep-fried. Apparently in Mississippi, everything is fried. Grease and heart attacks aside, they taste really good when they are dipped in ranch dressing. If you think it sounds gross, please try it before you condemn it! I think that locally, Little Dooey's are the best.

Now for the next section....I warn you...I don't eat or use anything else you read from here on in, but I did find them interesting enough to include. If you've tried any of these and know more than I do on the subject, please feel free to post a comment.

Kool-Aid pickles. Need I say more? Somebody (we don't know who) decided that gas station pickles weren't enough. They decided to drain out half of the liquid in the jar and replace it with Kool-Aid. I've never tried this. I don't think I want to. I wouldn't want to mess with a good thing. It sorta looks gross to me. I will admit that I've had pickled eggs before. You know the kind...there used to be a huge jar of pickled sausages by the gas station register and once the sausages were gone, they'd drop in a few peeled, hard-boiled eggs in there. Sounds gross and I can't believe that I just admitted that. Back to the pickles....This is something that I found intriguing. Some guy thought that if he took pickle juice and froze it into a Popsicle, people would eat it. He was right...they did. According to the information that I found, this product was featured on the Food Network show, "Unwrapped." Not bad if you ask me. I think this is something I would like to try, just to say that I've had a Pickle Pop. I mean, how many of you out there can say that?
So the next two items I will discuss aren't food items, but fun things you can do with pickles. This is a Pickle-Pult. Why get your hands wet by throwing a pickle, when you can have this handy pult and launch it across the room? I wonder how far its range personally, I'm more of hand-thrower. It seems like this would be a good conversation starter...."Excuse me...can you hand me my pickle that I just catapulted over here?" You know the person is going to ask you about your Pickle-Pult...or maybe what you've had to drink lately.
I had never heard of this one....a yodeling pickle. The information I found on this one said that it will remind the owner of yodeling "Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music. I'm a fan of yodeling and pickles, so I think this one has possiblities. The downfall here is that this product looks a lot like an item you'd see at an "adult" store.

This is about all the information that I've gathered on pickles at the moment. If you have heard of any other interesting pickles or pickle-type products, please post. Because as we all know, pickles make the world a more happier place. Have you ever seen a kid upset while eating a pickle??? It's just not possible.....


Crystal said...

Ha this was great! I love pickles too, especially dill pickles. And I love the fried pickles, with ketchup. Now you've gone and made me hungry for a pickle!

Jeraldine said...

Don't knock the Kool-ickles 'til you've tried them...they are mighty fine. The big problem with them is the stain they leave on your fingers, but as long as you have some soap and water handy, it's all good. Fried pickles are a special treat, too.

Carrie said...

fried pickles are great. I hate pickles in any other form....sorry :( haha...

Heather said...

ok. i found a new love. the only place i have found them was in north carolina at a farmer's market, but they have a web site - they are called "WIckles - Wicked Good Pickles."
and they are SO good. Spicy, kinda.