Well I have a 5 gallon crock, a bag of pickling salt and about 4 dozen ear of shucked corn in my fridge and a big heaping GOB of confusion. I will readily take any and all feedback I can get on this blog so please feel free to tell me any of your family lore, what your mom says, what your grandma says or what your neighbor down the street says. I need some help! I was all set to pickle corn and my friend, whose mom is the pickling guru who has been helping me, casually mentioned that back when she was in school they had canned a whole harvest of tomatoes that spoiled. She mentioned that her mother said this was because one of the cousins was having her period.
Ok, I know that last sentence probably just made most of the men reading this blog immediately delete their bookmarks but I was concerned. That information, in addition to an email I received from another friend who stated that his mother only ever pickled in certain signs sent me into a bit of a pickle information gathering frenzy. This morning at church I told my friend’s mom that I had all my corn shucked and everything ready to pickle but asked her about the whole sign/menstruation thing. She said that whether or not it was scientific was beyond her but that yes she did try to always pickle in any sign above the waist and no to definitely not pickle anything while menstruating. I asked why. She just kind of shrugged gave me a vague answer about old-timer wisdom and said I could try it whenever but it would probably ruin.
So on the way home from church this morning we stopped and bought Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac I was delighted to find it (we had stopped three separate places yesterday looking for it) and immediately befuddled. I flipped through the entire pamphlet and yes it did have moon signs listed but they correlated more to a zodiac chart than anything else. They had absolutely no reference to any segment of the body. I got on line and did a little research. Not a whole lot of fruitful information there.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac web page listed the best dates for canning and pickling in August as the 7th and 8th and the 25th and 26th. Well that is great but it did not tell me why. I look up those dates and how they corresponded to the moon signs in the Almanac I have. It listed the dates as Cancer and Pisces. Ok, I still did not know to what portion of the body they allegedly correspond.
After more internet digging I finally found a Wikipedia article that listed the zodiac signs and the segment of the body to which they correspond. Well, this only deepened my confusion because Cancer corresponds to the breast (ok that is above the waist) but Pisces corresponds to the feet!? Last time I checked the feet are about as far below the waist as you can get. I did a little more research and found some blog posts with comments regarding peoples’ personal opinions and family traditions and some people agreed and said to pickle in the chest or feet. Some people said to pickle only above the waist. Some people said to pickle only in the chest and head and some said pickles in the chest, kraut in the head only. I am so confused. Not a single comment or entry gave any reason why other than if you did not do it their way it would spoil. Several comments also distinctly pointed out that menstruating women should never ever can or pickle anything.
I am so confused! I have no clue now what to do with my corn or when. If I do not get some rock solid advice from someone, backed up with some concrete reasons why, then I am just going to pickle it in the morning when it is cool outside and pray for the best. I certainly do not know what my menstrual cycle has to do with anything other than that seems like a really good reason to get out of some serious manual labor one week a month. Maybe our grandmothers were wiser than even we realize.
I also called my aunt in Kentucky who is probably the only living relative who actually pickled with my paternal grandmother, the queen of farm living. She said it was all a bunch of hooey. "Pickle it when you get it, it is fresh and you have the most time," was her advice, sounds good to me! Now I certainly do not want to ruin four dozen ear of corn but since I cannot seem to pin down an exact answer I am just going to do the best I can. Tomorrow morning, pickled corn here I come!
Thanks for Reading,
Post Script: Fred just found a chart in next year’s almanac that concurs with the Wikipedia chart so now at least I know what zodiac sign goes with what part. Still sketchy on which sign to pickle in! Still open for debate!