Earlier this year I joined a hippy work space collective. I’ve been freelancing for two years now, and working from home breeds madness. Going to cafes is expensive, and I have a medical condition where I need to be coldly ignoring lots of people before I can do any work.
As an added perk, sometimes my office holds events for its members. Last month I attended Austin Learnshop‘s pickling workshop. I currently live in a household that is at the whim of a kombucha scobie, so pickling seemed like something I could probably incorporate into my lifestyle.
The class was led by a young pickle entrepreneur named Sheena, of Sheena’s Pickles Facebook Page fame.
Sheena’s Pickles: A Brief History
Sheena got into pickling right before one “broke-ass Christmas.” She spread pickled cheer throughout the land, and forever after her pickles were in high demand. Sheena’s fridge is continually packed with pickles, and the hordes of wailing pickle-gobblers are never far from her door.
She also makes jams.
“Any questions?” she asked before we began. Some Paranoid Patty asked about botulism. Sheena explained that botulism only forms at very high temperatures. You only need those kinds of temps for canning – jarring doesn’t get hot enough for that kind of freak funk to form.
At each table the picklers had an array of flavoring agents at our disposal. Sheena warned us to go easy with the jalapeño: “I don’t want you all shitting fire.”
Sheena passed out latex gloves and warned the gentlemen in the room about the dangers of mixing spicy peppers and penises. Women also put on gloves, who knows why.
(Don’t be naive. In case we wanted to touch penises later.)
We were free to paint our pickle canvases in shades of carrot, green bean, okra, and zucchini. Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an organic farm in Austin, provided all of the vegetables.
Eli, one of my co-workers, sank into a deep depression once he learned that there was no cucumber. He looked at his zucchini, betrayed. “This isn’t cucumber?”
I sharply reminded him that Sheena had specifically announced cucumbers weren’t in season. “Weren’t you paying attention?”
Another woman at our pickling table was more compassionate. Mary kept handing Eli odds and ends to add to his jar, in hopes of cheering him up.
There there. Have a carrot.
He pouted for the duration of the class.
“I thought we were making REAL pickles.”
Eventually someone pointed out that Eli’s vegetables were too short for his jar, which increased his sorrows by tenfold.
(I stuffed my jar perfectly. Everyone noticed.)
For my veggies I tossed in mostly carrots and green beans, along with a couple of okra. Then I threw in some zucchini, so as to not hurt the zucchini’s feelings. I also chucked in a couple of sprigs of fresh dill, slam-dunked a small clove of garlic from the 3-point line, and catapulted in a few hearty pinches of seasoning using a tiny, medieval trebuchet.
For those of you all who thought pickling was just taking a nap while your cucumbers soak in vinegar: You think you grown, but you ain’t.
There is an arsenal of special pickling tools. Continue reading