Thanksgiving Pickles

I have never cared to emulate the Pennsylvania Dutch, with their seven sweets and seven sours at every meal. But the dawn of Thanksgiving Day drew me to the pantry, where I scanned the shelves for favorite pickles to add to the feast. Here are the sour pickles that fortified us while the turkey roasted.


Clockwise from the left are cornichons (tiny cucumbers pickled in vinegar), pickled scallions, pickled red peppers (a mildly hot pimiento cross), brined cucumbers, dilly beans, and pickled sweet yellow peppers. Recipes for all of these are in The Joy of Pickling.

In the center of the platter are cherry olives. A simple old North American recipe turns wild cherries that are too small to pit, and perhaps too bitter or sour to eat plain, into what look like little black olives but taste wonderfully different. To make cherry olives, fill a quart jar with small black cherries. Combine 1 cup each water and vinegar with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and pour the mixture over the cherries to cover them well. Close the jar tightly. Store it in the refrigerator if you like, or keep it in a cool pantry. (Do not process the cherries with heat.) Wait a couple of months before serving the cherries.

More gracious than gravy as complement to a roast are sweet pickles and relishes. So Greg’s fat, juicy pasture-raised turkey was accompanied not only with Barb’s cranberry sauce and my cherry relish but also with pickled Seckel pears and Desert King figs.


The cherry relish, pear, and fig recipes are also in The Joy of Pickling.

What piquant reminders of the summer that’s gone! Pious I’m not, but with each tart little taste of my Thanksgiving pickles I had to silently thank the dirt, the sun, and the rain, the seeds, trees, flowers, and bees, and my own strong muscles and bones, all of which together bring such pleasure to the table.

Thanks to you, too, for reading this journal, and I hope you ate equally well.