Jar of Hearts

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Jar of Hearts

By Paula Deen

Many families make pickling a summertime tradition. It’s the best way I know to hold onto summer—or at least what the season brings to the garden. While sunburns fade and sand gets washed from between your toes, the tastes of summer can remain safely sealed away in the pantry for a cold and rainy day.

In a Pickle
My momma didn’t do a whole bunch of canning herself, but my grandmother sure did. She pickled everything that sat still long enough. I think she wanted to pickle my granddaddy a time or two if only she had the jar to hold him! With all that practice, it’s not surprising that my grandmother made the best pickles—perfectly tart and crunchy. We’d spend an entire day making ‘em together, sweating in a hot kitchen over boilin’ jars, the strong scent of vinegar burning our noses.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too much time for that kind of canning anymore. Entire days to myself are scarce as hen’s teeth, so I prefer a quick-canning method that works real well. Besides, even if I did manage to carve out some peace and quiet, it wouldn’t last long. My house is a revolving door of friends and family—grandkids wanting to swim in the pool, my sons wanting something from my garden, or Aunt Peggy wanting to make sure I haven’t gone completely off my rocker with all this running around. But the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wasted too many years holed up in my house, afraid of the people and the world around me. I think I’ve more than had my fill of alone time, y’all. Today, I realize that my friends and family are a blessing and that every moment we have together is a gift.

Canned Laughter
I was reminded of this when my daughter-in-love Michelle and her son Henry stopped by.  Oh my goodness, Henry is so precious.  He’s the happiest baby, and so curious about everything. He immediately wanted to get in on the canning action. He dropped okra into jars while his mom and I supervised, just like my grandmother did when I was little. He loved all the colorful jars filled with bright fruits and vegetables, and he’d scrunch his little face up every time he smelled vinegar.

Aunt Peggy’s ears must’ve been burning, because she showed up not ten minutes later. Not one to watch someone else do all the work—or have all the fun—Aunt Peggy dove right in, slicing up cucumbers and stuffing peppers into jars. The four of us worked all afternoon, pickling whatever we could get our hands on simply because we didn’t want our time together to end. By the time we finally ran out of produce, I had so many jars that I was more than grateful to pass some along to Michelle and Aunt Peggy.

Sure, cooking is my job, but it’s also the thing that continues to bring my family together even to this day. We share stories, memories and laughs in the kitchen. We had so much fun that afternoon, playing our pick-up game of pickling. For me, it was just another ordinary—or rather, extraordinary—day of cooking and family.

Try some of Paula’s favorite pickling recipes!
Icebox Bread and Butter Pickles
Garlic Pickled Carrots
Pickled Okra
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Rhubarb Refrigerator Pickles
Pickled Vegetables

Read More From Cooking Basics.

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Read More From Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables.

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Reader Comments:


Thank goodness we can still see you via internet. Miss you like a sister.

By Ida Dohoney on December 10, 2013


so glad to see your pretty face on my pc love you paula

By Anonymous on September 16, 2013


Paula I just love you, and my dream is one day to meet you. To cook with you and I would die..... take care

By Mandi Nicholas on September 07, 2013


I enjoyed reading your lovely stories. It is very heartwarming to see that such endearing traditions are being handed down, generation to generation, in your family. We never did canning, but I wish we had!

By Janet on September 03, 2013


My grandmother used to can everything too. I've never tried, but I so wanted to plant cucumbers this year to attempt her bread and butter pickles. Unfortunately, I didn't get that done. I did find some delish bread and butter pickles at an Amish store in Fredericksburg, TX. They tasted just like my mema's. I'll have to try some of these recipes next summer!

By LaurenM on September 02, 2013


please unsubscribe me...very confusing to do it myself. Thanks

By Shirley Goff on August 28, 2013


We love you Paula Deen. You are the BEST.

By Betty fisher on August 24, 2013


The happy pictures of you and Aunt Peggy remind Ted of visits from your Mom and uncle Johnny to Atlanta.We are so very proud of you.

By Ted and Nancy Cook on August 23, 2013


I love you Paula you have a great family God Bless them all

By keisha williams on August 23, 2013


Saludos Paula Deen como me gustariac poder cocinar contigo algun dia. Soy de Puerto Rico pero actualmente vivo en Nebraska. Me gustaria ver unas vacaciones con toda tu familia en verdad que disfrute mucho las que hicistes en St. Lucia y me gustaria que hicieran una pelicula de toda tu trayectoria de tantos años. De mi parte y mi familia te enviamos mucho cariño desde Nebraska.

By ROSA TORRES on August 23, 2013


Was searching for some of those picking recipes especially the icebox bread and butters pickles. Now I had an Aunt who lived in Charlotte,Nc that introduced me to okra but somehow or other these northern folks don't seem to embrace okra but I still do. Grew some in small flats up on my deck! Need to get a garden in though to grow more cause I cant find them at the farmers markets up here? Whats the matter with these Yankees? Not growin okra? Have a pigroast to go to with a covered dish tomorrow at my sons house and those Chocolate Macadamia Cheesecake bars look like would be a great hit after eating pulled pork with barbecue sauce and all the other delightful goodies everyone else is bringing. Paula, this is a 70 year old young woman who has had her up and downs in life. Sometimes people can be cruel and life can be cruel. I lost my husband at a young age of 47 and being alone has been an interesting life. U have a wonderful husband and family so as the song goes,"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!" Life goes on and all the warmth from ur family will be the richness that life has to offer! So KEEP ON KEEPIN ON girlfriend and we all need and love ur spirit for good cookin! With Love and Sincerety, Delores

By Delores Sowinski on August 23, 2013


i love you mrs dean you are so good at what ever you do i really really miss seeing you every day take care

By Rosetta taylor on August 22, 2013


Hi Paula, Soooooo happy to see you back. Love ya and miss ya!!

By charlene on August 22, 2013


I began reading this and couldn't stop it was was so entertaining. Love the home spun humor you have, my dear. My husband Don and I (newly married at 82...reconnected at a jr. hi reunion after both our spouses had passed) have a garden which is and will produced many, many green beans, 4 types of tomatoes, yellow crookneck/zucchini squash and purple and Anaheim peppers. So many, we've started quick canning already...made up our own pickling recipe. But, we're going to try yours..especially the "green tomatoes and onions" one on your website. Thanks Paula for bringing joy to our lives, Peggy Allin

By Peggy Manning Allin on August 22, 2013


Paula I so admire you and would give anything to be back there for any book signing. I told someone last week that if it needs doing that the Deens have already done it So now the saying is Deen done done it.

By Rosie Griffin on August 22, 2013


Love all your recipes Paula. love you and miss you. But I will be reordering your magazine,

By Mary Bastine on August 22, 2013


Paula I love looking at your recipes I was raised by parents from the south. so I have ate a lot of Southern cooking, and put on a lot of weight because of it. I would be interested in some real low cal and low carob meals I heard you was also diabetic. I have now lost 74 ponds but want to lose 60 pounds more so I would be very interested to hear what you have to say . THANK YOU DIANA

By Diana Shuttleworth on August 22, 2013


Paula, thank you for sharing all your fabulous recipes over the years, I truly enjoy you and your family. I hope you come back we miss and love you. By the way you look fabulous, my husband is a type 2 diabetic and we both are trying to eat healthier and live a more active lifestyle. I enjoy watching both Jamie and Bobby's cooking shows. Love, Peace and Blessing, The Wigner's

By Janet L. Wigner on August 22, 2013


I would like how your summer so have fun with your grand sons.

By Robert and Frances Cheatam on August 22, 2013


Paula, I will always be a fan of yours, in the Kitchen with Paula, are my words in the afternoon, making a yummy meals from your show. Will always be a fan! Take care Paula the world loves you

By Ana AB on August 22, 2013

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