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.

Read More From On the Shelf.

Read More From Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables.

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Reader Comments:

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

By Ida Dohoney on December 10, 2013

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

By Anonymous on September 16, 2013

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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

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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

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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

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

By Shirley Goff on August 28, 2013

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We love you Paula Deen. You are the BEST.

By Betty fisher on August 24, 2013

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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

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

By keisha williams on August 23, 2013

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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

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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

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

By charlene on August 22, 2013

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

By Mary Bastine on August 22, 2013

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

By Robert and Frances Cheatam on August 22, 2013

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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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Thank you paula. My husband and i are getting ready to move to texas and i want to start pickling. Plus i have my paula deen cookware smile can't wait to try these recipes.

By rebecca lepard on August 22, 2013

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Good to see you happy, Paula. Keep it up. You are loved !!!!

By Donna on August 22, 2013

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