In convenience stores in Louisiana, you can find huge jars of dill pickles -- you know, the kind that are as big as hotdog bun? The amazing thing though are the big gallon jars of pickled eggs next to them. (I'll confess never to eating a pickled egg because the idea of them always seemed gross.)
I was thinking about this pickling craze when I was in Louisiana last week and visiting with my sister-in-law Judy in her pantry. On the shelves of her pantry were beautiful jars full of pickles. Dill pickles, sweet pickles, bread and butter pickles, picked green jalapeno, pickled red jalapeno, pickled okra, and pickled beets.
With the pickled hot peppers, we use the vinegar from them, which we call pepper sauce, to spice up cooked mustard greens or turnip greens so a jar of pickled peppers does double duty.
Judy filled a box with some of my favorites for me to take home, and she gave me a cooler full of veggies from her freezer. Nothing tastes as good as vegetables from their kitchen garden. Oh, and I scored a half-dozen jars of jellies too: muscadine, grape, and yellow plum.
Home cooking and canning are alive and well in the South. In other places too, I hope, because it's some of the best food around.