Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try- Home Pickling

I recently joined The Northern Preservation Society. Co-founder Jo Lawson posted an invite “…been chatting about starting a chutney club (working title The Northern Preservation Society) for bloody ages and this year I want to make it happen because it would be awesome…You are the people I know whom I suspect might have made jam at some stage in your adult lives…I think the only rule needs to be everyone’s got to bring something; no partners, no free rides…”

I like the rules: Don’t be a bastard. Make something good. The first meeting is set for Sunday April 7th. Two of my housemates are also members. All three of us are agitating for a name change from Northern Preservation Society to Pickle Club and keep cracking jokes. First Rule of Pickle Club, don’t talk about Pickle Club.

Soon after being invited to join my procrastination set in. This poem is dedicated to that time.

All The Reasons I Shan’t Be Pickling
All The Reasons I Shan’t Be Pickling

I haven’t read all of The Art of Fermentation including the footnotes

I harbour lofty ideals

I want to make the greatest kimchi of my generation

Pickled Zeitgeist

Kraut that makes people that eat it fall in love with me.

I want to show off my knowledge of Japanese knife play so I will need a folded steel knife from eBay.

I don’t own a ceramic handmade sauerkraut crock pot.

I lack unradioactive kombu.


My housemates Jasmine and Step are in the Secret Pickle Club too.

Step made the greatest plum chutney of all time without much fuss in between decanting some peach wine and cranking out a few more demijohns. A week later after finishing the shit olives in the good shaped jar Jasmine whipped up some delicious tomato relish. It was on the stove top with a post it note reading ‘Secret Pickle Club business’. I stood in the kitchen with my Sandor Bible talking about how I needed a pot made in Korea. Then I got on ebay and started looking at Japanese blogs about tsukemono. Then I needed daikons. Step works at the organic market and offered to bring some home but that just seemed too easy. I attended the EcoCity lightning talks with Jo, one of the Preservation Society’s founding mothers who told me that she thought that I was one of those people that would express enthusiasm about the club but never actually show up. I returned home wounded and looked in a Middle Eastern cookbook and wondered if two weeks was enough time to pickle sheep’s brains. Then I went to Pete’s house to procrastinate in a new environment.

Pete, an ex chef, is in the club and like me was feeling the pressure. He stood in the kitchen waving a jar of piccalilli swearing, “I’m doing a fucking Masters and I work fulltime! I don’t have time to make fucking pickles!”, confessing that he intended to take some cucumber pickles he had made earlier. As I left I turned to him, “You are the weak link in Pickle Club.” Sitting in my room I could hear Step talking to the other housemates about how I was ‘prevaricating’. I googled prevaricate and stomped into the kitchen to explain that I was in fact procrastinating but Step was one step ahead of me because Jasmine was making him look up ‘prevaricate’ on his laptop. Sunday I finally decided to make quince paste and rode to Henry Street milk co-op for a recipe and then to Psarakos. Psarakos was closed. Foiled. Monday featured more procrastination where I told Step I was thinking of pickling a whole octopus. Or maybe making plum jam. Or maybe green mango chutney. Tuesday I finally made it to the fruit market and got four quinces. I made quince paste. It tastes like condensed achievement and is named Bridget Mackey Quince Paste in honour of the housemate whose pot I destroyed making it. I have started thinking about the May Pickle Club. Tomorrow I am going to hang four daikon radishes in the sun.


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