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Trick or Treat

October 23, 2008

As a child in a rural area, my Halloween trick or treat forays were boring and pretty simple.  My Mom would take me to couple of neighbors houses, and after “oohing and ahhing” over my homemade costume, they would get out the stale donuts and cider, and then proceed to visit.  Real fun.  The couple with the stale donuts, owned greyhounds, and lived in some kind of weird shack with magazines stacked to the gills.  Rumor had it, that the husband lost his medical license performing abortions. The wife had died black hair, and painted on eyebrows, and I didn’t know of it then, but she was the model for Chris Elliott’s, Perfume Soaked Hag spot on Get A Life. (just kidding on that one.)

My Mom always saved the best for last though.  My gardening mentors who gave me the milking stool, always had fresh cider and homemade blond brownies and a couple of candy bars.  I never minded the visiting there.  Mostly because these people seemed real to me.  The stories told were usually just day to day stuff, eggs gathered, gallons milked,  number of jars put up, etc.  Usually, they only got a few kids who came to the door, and we stayed until the coffee pot and cider pitcher was drained.  There was usually sauerkraut fermenting away, and the last of the season’s canning sitting on the table, awaiting labeling and packing down to the basement.  Their house smelled of homemade laundry soap, wood smoke and milk.

They grew a few pie pumpkins every year for decorating, but did not carve them, not wanting them to spoil.  They were so frugal, nothing went to waste.  As soon as Halloween was over, they would make pickles out of them.  They grew squash to make pies out of, and the little pumpkins were for pickles, that would need three weeks in the jar, to be ready for their Thanksgiving dinner.  I got to help when I was smaller, because I had developed a taste for those pickles, but I didn’t ask for the recipe until I was out of high school.  Like before, I had to help, and take notes since she didn’t have a recipe. 

We don’t really eat very many pickles, and I’m the only one who will eat these. So, I don’t make them every fall.   I think it is the comfort food factor for me.  Sweet, spicy and dense in texture, I like them on sandwiches.  But, I really like them for the memories, stale donuts and all.

PUMPKIN PICKLES    approximately 5 quarts or 10 pints.
2 small pie pumpkins (about)
5 cups sugar
5 teaspoons pickling salt
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag
Cut pumpkin in slices, peel and cut into uniform size cubes until you have 5 quarts worth.
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, vinegar and water.  Add spice sachet.  Cook for 1 hour on medium heat or until pumpkin is tender.
Pack in hot jars and seal.  Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Best if not opened for at least three weeks.




17 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2008 10:03 pm

    I’ve an image of you as a little girl helping make these pumpkin pickles! I’ve never heard of them, but of course am intrigued. Is their texture like a pickled beet? What wonderful memories you must relive every time you take a bite of them. I’d like to snare a couple jars of those traditional pickles stacked behind the pumpkin ones! Of course they’d be easy for me to get because I’d pilfer the pumkin one in front of them, too! I’m bad. Very bad.

  2. amanda o permalink
    October 24, 2008 3:35 am

    sweet story and interesting food!

  3. October 24, 2008 3:42 am

    Beautiful jars as well as delicious looking food!

  4. October 24, 2008 6:58 am

    I don’t remember much of my early years in rural Illinois, but I vaguely remember a hot and sweaty devil mask and sticking my tongue through the little mouth hole.

    Don’t remember Halloween in Louisiana, except for my mom and dad turning off the lights, making sure no trick-or-treaters came to our trailer.

    I DO remember Virginia, though. I was 12 the last year I went, and even then I felt old and stood out, too tall among all the little goblins and princesses. More than once I was given a suspicious look and asked how old I was.

    Now, living in a rural area once more, we’ll be taking our kids to the mall for trick-or-treating.

    I loved your Halloween memories. It wasn’t much, but it must have meant a lot for you to still remember it.

  5. October 24, 2008 8:09 am

    What a delightful story! And I love the new recipe. We are not big pickle eaters or bread eaters, but I want to try this recipe.

    I’m glad I found your site.


  6. October 24, 2008 8:26 am

    I just learned about zucchini pickles this summer and they are awesome. I happen to have to extra pumpins laying around. This sounds like an excellent use!

    Also, cool to hear about memories. Very neat!

  7. October 24, 2008 8:28 am

    Great post- sounds a lot like my experiences. The only thing you left out for me would be the homemade costume that was two sizes too big to accomodate the snowsuit underneath! LOL. It’s cold in the Adirondacks!
    And, I’ve never had pickled pumpkin, but I think I’ll try it.
    Thanks for the recipe and smiles!

  8. October 24, 2008 9:42 am

    What great memories! I always carve a pumpkin on Halloween and cook it the next morning so it doesn’t go to waste.

  9. Tami permalink
    October 24, 2008 12:03 pm

    We lived in the mountains in Colorado and I remember going each year the 2 miles to my grandparents, usually in the snow to get an unbelieveably hard rice crispie treat and two Starbursts. A couple of times I got to visit my “city” grandparents, it was very exciting, once I even got a wax harmonica, I couldn’t believe my good fortune!

  10. October 24, 2008 3:08 pm

    Around here the area churches get together and have what they call “Trunk of Treat”. The members all set up in the church parking lots and give out candy. Pretty nice and a lot safer than haveing kids walking up and down the road at night.

    I love the pantry pics. I want more…….


  11. October 24, 2008 5:09 pm

    I just love all my memories of Halloween. Back then, all of us kids did roam the streets (alone too!) n homemade costumes, trick/treating as long as we could. Then it was home to have mom inspect the candy and trade each other for favorites! Now, the closest “city” is a small one and I have no plans to ever deny my kids the great fun of Halloween and T/T (I’ll be with them though, LOL!)

    A lot of the churches do Trunk or treat here too, but I just don’t feel the same about it.

    Thanks for sharing your memories and your intriging pump pick recipe!

  12. October 24, 2008 8:43 pm

    I enjoyed going down memory lane with you. I plan to grow some pie pumpkins next year. I might hit you up for you recipe then unless I come across some at the farmers market!

  13. October 24, 2008 10:30 pm

    Paula, I loved staying there as a child, the perfect small subsistence farm. Since all my grandparents were gone before I came a long, they were like grandparents to me. From their living room windows you could see see up the Gorge towards Beacon Rock, I would sit for hours and watch the barges go up and down the river.

    The texture of the pickles is similar to pickled beets, but grainy (in a good way) like the pumpkin flesh. Plus they seem dense because they are thick compared to other types of pickles. If some pickles turn up missing, now I know where to look 😉

    Amanda, thanks.

    TC, I always put those pickles in my old condiment and canned meat jars. They have such interesting shapes.

    Jenny, your Halloweens do sound similar to mine. By the time I was old enough to go to a friends house and trick or treat, we were too big, and would always get into some kind of trouble. The mall sounds safer, especially since your road is so busy.

    My daughter is past that age, but we took her and several friends to peoples house we knew when she was little, they had more fun making costumes than going out after dark to get candy.

    It was fun, but kinda boring compared to all the tales of copious amounts of candy, the next day at school.

    My worst Halloween was 30 years ago, I was dressed up as a witch (no snickering) green face paint and all, and my brother had a heart attack, (not because of my costume) so I took him to the hospital. The waiting room was full of kids, getting their candy x-rayed or kids that had been hurt by falling and tripping because they couldn’t see out of their masks. What a night, I never did make to my party.

    Linda, Hi and thanks for stopping by. I’ll have to come check out your blog.

    Warren, it’s hard to believe how good those pickles can be. It’s a long time until summer when they start disappearing. Maybe these will help fill the gap.

    Joce, that sounds like a hoot, and cold too. Usually, we barely have had much of frost by Halloween.

    Kathie, that sounds like a great idea. Pumpkin carving days here were always a little early, so the pumpkins were kinda sad after Halloween. I miss the smell of a candle in the pumpkin though.

    Tami, that sounds so cold, but I love Rice Krispie treats, and Starburst. That wax harmonica sounds like a real prize. I sometimes miss all the different kinds of candy that used to be around. Like Regal Crown sour cherry candy, what I would give to have one of those again. Jolly Rancher doesn’t hold a candle to that flavor. Or maybe to be cool again and have a candy cigarette. Funny, I never had the urge to smoke, but I ate (smoked) a lot of those candy cigs. 🙂

    Chris, do you mean people have candy in their trunks? That sounds like a good idea instead of being out unattended after dark.

    Be careful what you wish for – I’m working on a larder post.

    Gina, it was fun to take our daughter, with her friends, but out here if you stay in our community with people you know, you have to drive quite a ways. They had a blast, and never got in trouble like we did roaming around. It was just enough, and not overkill, and some people really get into decorating their yards with scary stuff and things flying out of trees. So it was fun. People I used to work with began to hate Halloween, because it would cost so much and the kids were relentless.

    Kim, thanks, I’ll probably make them next year too, since I didn’t grow any pumpkins this year either. The recipe will be fresh in my mind then.

  14. October 25, 2008 5:09 am

    I’ve never heard of pumpkin pickles….will have to try them.

    I would love to raid your pantry! Everything looks wonderful 🙂

  15. October 25, 2008 7:35 am

    I’ve never heard of pumpkin pickles either. I’d like to raid your pantry of all those wonderful old jars!

  16. October 25, 2008 11:13 am

    MOH, yes they do have a trunk full of candy. They have a lot of nice stuff for the kids, small toys and baked goods too. And most important, it’s safe.

  17. October 25, 2008 7:06 pm

    I so enjoyed reading this post! The memories and the pickles both are so wonderful 🙂

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