Last week I was at the Albertville Farmers Market and the summer vegetables were just starting to arrive on the producer’s tables.
There were squash, zucchini, cucumbers and some green tomatoes. There were a few fully ripe tomatoes, but those were sold out in the first few minutes. I always look forward to stopping by the farmers market, you never know what you’ll find. But, you always know it’s fresh and where it came from.
I’m planning to actually do what the old folks called “putting up” this year. I called my mom and got the recipe for my grandmother’s pickles and pickled green tomatoes.
It doesn’t matter what brand you buy at the grocery store. No matter what is in the jar, it just never tastes quite the same as something that is “put up” fresh from the field.
I’m kind of like my grandmother, I can’t grow it so I have to go to the garden. My grandmother’s “garden” was the Piggly Wiggly. She’d get most of the cucumbers and tomatoes there, sometimes neighbors that could actually grow something would drop off a basket or two of something.
There were some things she couldn’t get from her garden. So, she’d make the grandkids go foraging for it. I’d pick blackberries and blueberries in the spring. In the fall, my grandmother would load us up and go out on a dirt road. She’d shake the scuppernong vines and the grandkids would pick up scuppernongs.
One of my favorite things to do was pick the wild plums. Back then, there were plum trees on the sides of roadways. You could pick two or three buckets full and there’d still be plenty of plums.
Sadly, I haven’t seen a wild plum tree in years. I suppose the roadside ones died out when the power companies started cutting down everything that could knock out electricity.
I enjoyed all of that, except for one thing. The figs. I wasn’t too fond of this particular task. In fact, I hated it. I remember getting “eat up” by wasps when I was a kid. So, climbing up in a tree full of wasps to pick figs wasn’t my idea of a good time. Aside from the wasps, the things were sticky and it took an hour to clean my hands after picking them.
I won’t be putting up any figs. But, some blackberry jelly and blueberry jam would be nice. Fortunately, I won’t have to go to all the trouble of foraging that up. I can just get it at the farmers market.
Huck Treadwell is the managing editor of the Sand Mountain Reporter.