Friday, June 12, 2009

"huntin' and fishin'..."

Gram Potter made pickles and relishes. She made pickled beets and jams and jellies. At the bottom of the cellar stairs were shelves with her treasures. I can see the jelly glasses with the paraffin on top and the mason jars with the rings and the wire bales. Today we use jars with seals and rarely use paraffin.

I learned to can tomatoes from a neighbor when I lived in Portland. That was a lot of work. I put up 40 quarts one year when the kids were little and a few beef stews and sauces later, they were gone! Imagine making enough to last a family through the winter!

I became more interested in making “gifts” from my kitchen and searched for recipes that made small batches. A friend in Buxton taught me to make bread and butter pickles and green tomato relish. A neighbor gave me her recipe for Pottsfield pickle. I found a recipe for very thinly sliced cucumbers called crispy cukes and that’s how it started.

Green Tomato Relish

1 peck green tomatoes (about 10-12 pounds)
4 large red sweet peppers
6 medium onions
½ cup pickling salt
6 cups cider vinegar
7 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Grind tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Drain off juice. Cover mixture with salt and let stand one hour. Rinse and drain well. Combine remaining ingredients and vegetables and cook until mixture looks dark and thick (about 30 minutes). Pour the hot relish into sterilized hot jars and seal according to manufacturer’s directions. Yields about 8 pints.

My friend Patti and I used to go up to her cottage in Wolfeboro for a week. We called it our “huntin and fishin” trip. At the end of the week, there was not a pickling cucumber in the area because they were all in jars at her cottage. I think our record was 90 some odd jars a piece. We took our sewing machines. On the way to Wolfeboro, we stopped at Keepsake Quilting, the liquor store, and the market. Fortified with lots of fabric, enough vodka and wine, and the biggest roasting chickens we could find - we would head to the cottage. During those days we washed our fabric so we got that done first. We would roast those chickens and live off them for the whole week. We'd grill vegetables and make salads and bake potatoes and the whole idea was to just stay in and make stuff. And we would laugh our heads off (could have had something to do with the vodka or wine!)

When it was time to go back to Gorham, we would each have at least 40 jars, a quilt top, some Christmas ornaments and a gourmet dinner for the husbands the night we got home. I wish I had taken pictures.

Her cottage was like a little doll house. It was probably one of the oldest houses in Wolfeboro. The outside was a mustardy gold and sat on it's lot surrounded by lilacs and day lilies. Inside was wood and oriental red. The furniture was antique and the hutch was full of white ironstone. When we got there nothing was out of place and when we left nothing was out of place but in between.......

I want to thank you all for your positive feedback and encouragement. I am still having trouble with the spacing - so just keep on scrolling because there might be more!

1 comment:

Jim said...

Huntin' & Fishin'. Hi, I am seeking the derivation of the name Pottsfield and possibly who Pottsfield was. Pottsfield pickle relish has been in my family for more than 90 years, 66 years of which I recall.

I am originally from Ashburnham, MA. It seems many of the recipes that I have found have either connections to this area of Massachuetts or Central New England.

Can you or your Neighbor who gave you the Green Tomatoe Relish recipe help me?

Please email me directly at

Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.


Jim Hall


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