‘Pickles Granny,’ 96, Looks to Grow Business

Source: youth.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China

Song Xiuying, 96 years old, is affectionately referred to as “Pickles Granny” by the local people in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province: Despite being four years shy of the century mark, she still keeps busy selling pickles at a local market.

Setting up a shop in one of the market’s corners, Song is always seen smiling to each of her customers, old and new. She handles all of the transaction tasks — including weighing and calculating the orders — swiftly and accurately. If any customers express interest in making pickles of their own, she is more than willing to share with them her skills and long-accrued expertise. And during the lulls in her day, she will often be found chatting with people around the market.

When Song was a young woman, her husband passed away, leaving behind seven children for her to raise and nurture alone. “She would [back then] make several tons of pickles a year, attracting customers from surrounding villages from dawn to dusk,” said an acquaintance. Through her painstaking efforts, Song successfully brought up her children and now sits proudly atop a family tree that has grown to over 60 below her. Still, she sticks to her pickle business and stays by her stall in the market every day. She even wants to run a company and sell her pickles in foreign countries, said her son.

In her house, dozens of large vats are full of various kinds of pickles, all hand-made with care on her own. “See, I’m old, but I can still see and hear clearly,” she said proudly.

“I have been selling pickles for over 50 years and have never cheated my customers. The daily sales can reach one or two hundred yuan. I’m really happy!”

All financially capable, Song’s children intended to let their mother stay at home and enjoy her elderly years in peace and calm — but their intentions were met with the firm refusal of their mother. “Everybody is busy making money; I can’t just stay at home doing nothing.”

“My mom is very happy in making and selling pickles, and we’re also happy about that. We can’t force her to do things she doesn’t want to do,” said Song’s eldest daughter.

“‘Pickles Granny’ doesn’t sell pickles only for the money. She gets to exercise and interact with others, and that may very well be the secret to her longevity,” revealed Song’s nurse.

Spicy Food Longevity: Bring In Those Jalapeños, Study Suggests Hot Foods Might Make You Live Longer!

By Victoria Guerra – foodworldnews.com

Not everyone can handle spicy additions to their regular food intake, but the newest research on the subject shows that those who favor this kind of flavors might actually live longer, as it appears that spicy food and longevity are connected in a way.

According to The New York Times, the spicy food longevity study found that those who had a preference for hot foods were far less likely to develop ischemic heart disease, different types of cancer and respiratory disease, and although the researchers didn’t pinpoint exactly the cause and effect relation, they noted that capsaicin (an important ingredient in chili peppers), in the past has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A health study hailing from China found an interesting link between spicy food and longevity after surveying more than 485,000 people, and it was found that those who consumed hot foods on a weekly basis (particularly different chili peppers) were actually less likely to die at a young age.

Of course, there may be other causes for the spicy food longevity theory, such as the lifestyle associated with eating hotter foods; for example, it was found that the people who consumed more foods of this nature were more likely to live in rural areas, and there’s of course a particular lifestyle associated with this.

“Supportive data from population-based studies are sparse,” Lu Qi, the lead author of the spicy food longevity study, told CBS News. “For the first time, we reported that intake of spicy food might benefit health and lower risk of death in a large population. This is significant because consumption of spicy foods is common in many populations.”

The spicy food longevity study was published in the most recent issue of British Medical Journal (BMJ) under the name “Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study.”

Pickle eaters take on Porubsky’s at County Fair competition

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen – cjonline.com

Think twice before challenging 15-year-old Alex Bayless to a pickle-eating contest.

On Saturday, the Washburn Rural High School student successfully defended his title as Porubsky’s dill pickle-eating champion at the Shawnee County Fair, making him the two-year winner.

His tips for aspiring speed-eaters eyeing next year’s competition?

“All I did was stuff a bunch in my mouth, chew, swallow and do it again,” said Bayless, who adds that he loved pickles throughout his childhood, and can even polish off a jar of them in a day. “I was always doing that.”

For his efforts, Bayless received a prize of $30.

The second-place winners in the contest, in which 21 children and teenagers competed, were 17-year-old Mitchell Porter and 17-year-old Mariah Ryer, respectively. Competitors had to guzzle down 10 pickle slices as fast as they could.

Though Bayless enjoyed the dill pickles, he doesn’t sound too enthusiastic about participating someday in the 18-and-above competition.

“I’m not a big fan of hot things,” he said.

Adults at the annual event take on a Topeka treat known for its bite — Porubsky’s hot pickles. An announcer noted as this year’s nine competitors waited to begin: It’s a challenge that “takes a lot of bravery — and a lot of Pepto-Bismol later.”

This year’s winner was Bobbi Luttjohann, who attends the contest each year with her daughter, who also competes.

The second- and third-place winners were Rachel Osterhaus and Brett Kell, respectively.

“I do like some Porubsky’s pickles — even when it’s not a contest,” said Luttjohann, who has won second and third place in past years.

Her prize this year was $125. Cash prizes for first-, second- and third-place winners were donated by Sommerset Hall Cafe in Dover and Brown Chevy and Buick in Wamego. The pickles were donated, of course, by Porubsky’s Deli and Tavern at 508 N.E. Sardou in North Topeka, open since 1947.

The trick to making it through the hot pickle competition, said Luttjohann and others at the event, is downing the slices with enough speed to minimize the inevitable pain.

“Eat them as fast as you can,” she said, “because that way the burning is over quicker. And just try not to throw them back up.”

That sounds like a bit of a pickle. And yes, Luttjohann says, it does leave you with a burning feeling in your stomach afterward.

Market Fresh Finds: Slicing into the cucumber question: to pickle or not to pickle?

By Vicki Ivy for The Columbian

The cucumber season is in full swing, and that means it’s time to decide what varieties of this versatile vegetable to buy and what to do with them.

Cucumbers are the perfect snack with only 8 calories per half-cup serving. Over 90 percent water, high in Vitamin K, they can be eaten in many ways including raw and pickled.

Related to melons, squash and pumpkins, cucumbers come in two main varieties which are slicing and pickling. They come in several shapes, sizes and colors including the lemon cucumber, which is yellow-white, round and can be eaten like an apple, skin and all. Pickling cucumbers can be eaten raw, but are grown specifically for pickle-making characteristics.

When buying a cucumber, either slicing or pickling, choose firm cucumbers that are rounded at their edges and their color should be a bright, vibrant green to dark green. Storage life of cucumbers is less than 14 days. Cucumbers like temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees. Store them in a perforated plastic bag near the front of the refrigerator where it is warmer for 3-5 days. Leaving them on the counter for an extended time will make them wilt and become limp. Do not store them with apples or tomatoes.

Slicing cucumbers are meant to be eaten fresh and have a smooth skin and may be waxed. These cucumbers are for eating fresh and not pickling. The most common variety is a Burpee hybrid, and specialty varieties include Armemian and Burpless which are long. Burpbless cucumbers have a thinner skin, few if any seeds, and sweeter than other cucumber varieties. They are great to snack on or use in all types of salads. When ready to eat wash waxed slicing cucumbers under cool water using a vegetable brush to wash off the wax or peel the skin off.

Make a quick batch of refreshing cold gazpacho soup in less than five minutes by pureeing cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dollop of yogurt. Or create a delightful summer beverage by juicing and mixing with sparkling water and squeeze of lemon.

Pickling cucumbers are shorter, thicker, have bumpy skin and are never waxed. Choose fresh, firm, young pickling cucumbers and pickle them as soon as possible after harvesting. Pickling cucumbers should be used as soon as possible for the best quality pickled product. To wash unwaxed pickling cucumbers just brush the cucumber gently with a soft brush under cool running water.

Gherkins use cucumbers 1½ inches long, Dills are 4 to 5 inches. Oversized cucumbers are excellent for making into relish or bread-and-butter style pickles. To prevent spoilage and to be certain you have firm pickles remove 1/16 inch from blossom end of the cucumber before pickling. You can either make a brined pickle, which is fermented for several days in a crock before processing or a quick pickle which is made with vinegar brine and processed or stored in the refrigerator. Additional tips to be sure of a quality safe pickle is to always use an approved recipe, use canning/pickling salt, and make sure your vinegar is 5 percent acidity or higher.

Nine pounds of pickling cucumbers will yield an average 9 pints of pickles.

For more information and downloadable how to publications on preserving, pickling and dehydrating visit the WSU website http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/?p=1134

Vicki Ivy is a WSU Clark County Extension master food preserver. For more information, call the Master Food Preserver program at 360-697-6060, ext. 5366, or visit clark.wsu.edu.

New Rogue Chipotle Whiskey Aims To Spice Things Up

By  – thewhiskeywash.com

Flavored whiskey, as always, is an odd bird of a category for this spirit type. There certainly is a market for it, though if you suggest that’s mostly women I would say you are quite wrong on that in this day and age. Distillers love to see what, shall we say, unique concoctions they can come with based upon ingredients at hand, such as the just announced Rogue Chipotle Whiskey.

Rouge Ales and Spirits is a multi-location distillery and brewery in Oregon, including its primary distilling operation in coastal Newport that’s complete with its own barrel-making cooperage. They are known up to this point for producing mostly young whiskies, with their rye whiskey from late last year being, up until now, the latest. The Chipotle offering is the first flavored expression from them and, in keeping with the spirit of how Rogue does things, makes use of ingredients they’ve pretty much grown themselves.

Rogue, for the last few years, has been raising jalapeños and is now up to two acres of them at one of its farms in the town of Independence. These peppers are used for the brewery side’s Chipotle Ale and, in fact, the Chiptole Whiskey is created from the Ale after the beer wash has been distilled in a copper pot still. More specifically, according to Rogue,

jalapeños are allowed to ripen until they are bright red, the additional time ripening on the vine means more capsaicin in the pepper, which makes for a spicier pepper. Once harvested by hand, the jalapeños are driven 77 miles to the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon, where they are dried and slowly smoked over cherry and alder woods. The smoky chipotles are then used by Brew master John Maier to brew the Rogue Chipotle Whiskey wash.

Once the brewing is complete, the chipotle wash is driven across the parking lot to the Rogue Distillery where more freshly smoked chipotles are added during the distillation process. After distillation, the Chipotle Whiskey is aged in Oregon Oak barrels along with one final addition of chipotles.

This 80 proof whiskey has a total of seven ingredients, which include 2-Row & C40 malts; Liberty & Alluvial hops; chipotle peppers; “free range” coastal water & Pacman yeast. Limited official tasting notes are below and, as for availability; it should hit retail starting at the beginning of August.

Food trends: Hong Kong restaurants turn to pickling own ingredients

Pickling is an integral part of Asian and Latin cuisines. Chefs at two Hong Kong restaurants tell us why they are making their own.

Janice Leung Hayes – scmp.com

Until recently, making your own pickles would have had you labelled a grandma, but nowadays many restaurants are happily offering their own jarred creations.

Vinny Lauria, executive chef of modern American restaurant Stone Nullah Tavern, thinks interest in pickling is rising as food trends steer us away from classical French cuisine. He says: “Classical French cuisine was a foundation for a lot of Western cuisines, and you didn’t see pickle-making as much in that kind of food. However, it’s always been an integral part of a lot of Asian cuisines and in Latin cuisines.”

At modern Vietnamese restaurant Viet Kitchen, executive chef Peter Cuong Franklin creates his own pickles using his own recipe. “The key ingredients include vinegar, chilli, garlic, sugar, salt, whole black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns.”

He uses a quick technique that is common in Vietnam to create pickles in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks. Franklin says pickles are key in heightening the flavour of dishes such as his crispy pork skewers. “The banh mi sandwich would not be the same without the pickled carrots and daikon, which provide a balancing sweet and sour flavour and add a textural element,” he says.

At Stone Nullah Tavern, Lauria says they’ve pickled everything from beets to pig’s feet. At the moment they are serving pickled chillies, cucumbers, beets and garlic. He offers meatloaf sliders served with “picklebacks” — a shot of cheap bourbon chased by a shot of pickling juice from the dill pickles used in the sliders.


The Pickle Authority

Posted by Tom Gaertner on July 28, 2015 – wauwatosanow.com

Anyone visiting the WauwatosaNOW homepage may have taken note that in the lower right hand corner under MOST POPULAR for the last month or so the Gas Pains blog about How to Make Crispy, Crunchy, Sweet Pickles has been in the pole position or close to it.  More popular than the crime report, a new restaurant or business opening or someone running for president.

The dang pickle post is persistently on that popularity list.  Having reappeared about a month ago it’s apparently getting clobbered by page views and has demonstrated staying power.

The first week of September, 2011 I threw together a blog post about How to Make Crispy Crunchy Sweet Pickles.  To be fair the genesis of the recipe came to me via my pal The First Mate’s wife.  I think it may have been her grandmother’s recipe. I’ve been tweaking it ever since and last year perfected the recipe for How to Make Crispy Crunchy Dill Pickles.

Seems ‘how to’ posts are perennial favorites but nothing rises to popularity of pickled cucumbers.  Don’t believe me?  Just type – how to make crispy (or crunchy) sweet pickles in your favorite search engine and see what you get for a result.

At the time I tapped-out that blog post I had no notion of becoming the fountain of all knowledge and inspiration as it pertains to home canning of pickled cukes.  But by fluke of luck and search engine optimization I seem to have become an authority on the subject and this time of year emails materialize from all over the country requesting details, diagnoses of problems and the popularity of the end product.  With every passing year interest in this subject post has grown in popularity.

Anyway, about that MOST POPULAR ranking – as soon as the pickle harvest has run its course and everyone has put-up another year’s supply of crispy crunchy pickles the fervor will diminish, the page views will fade and a quietude will fall upon the blog.  The exception being a blip in the winter from residents of the southern hemisphere.  Go figure.

Then as predictably as the swallows returning to Capistrano the process will begin all over again in May or June of 2016.

I’d like to raise a toast to gardening, growing your own food and preserving the fruits of the harvest be it by canning, freezing or drying.

Embrace the heat of jalapenos

by BETHANY GRABER – BostonGlobe.com – JULY 28, 2015

Summer is the perfect time to embrace the heat — of hot peppers. The green jalapeno is relatively mild, but just spicy enough to raise the hairs on your arms. Their heat lies primarily in their internal seeds and pith, which can be removed easily by cutting off the pepper’s top and using a small spoon or knife to scoop them out (or since some like it hot, they can be left in to up the heat level). These delightful petit peppers (also in yellow and purple) pack a raw punch, but cooking brings out their sweetness. Slice them lengthwise. Fill them with a mixture of cream cheese, fresh corn, and a dash of paprika, and bake them for an easy appetizer. Char them on the grill whole to give them a smoky quality; then chop for salsa or guacamole or puree them whole with garlic, olive oil, lime juice, plain yogurt, and cilantro to create a creamy sauce for fish or chicken. Get them while they’re hot. Available at farmers’ markets and farm stands.

Cascabella Pepper Seeds

People call Tito’s asking where to buy cascabella pepper seeds.  Tito’s bulk resources for cascabella pepper seeds are of little use to these callers.  As such, we wish to provide some resources for seeds that will yield cascabellas.  While Tito’s does not endorse any of the resources provided here at least we can confirm that the images associated with their products appear to be cascabellas and not some other variety of yellow chile peppers that are often confused with real cascabella peppers.

Here is one resource that is a very reputable seed company:


Cascabella Hot Peppers Pack/ 10

Non-Treated Seeds

Description: 85 days. Capsicum annuum. Cascabella pepper plant produces good yields of 1 ¾” long by ¾” wide conical shaped hot peppers. Cascabella peppers have thick skin and turns from creamy-yellow, to orange, to red when mature. Plant has green stems, green leaves, and white flowers. Most often used when creamy-yellow. An excellent pickling variety. United States Department of Agriculture, NSL 20162. A variety from the USA. pk/10

Directions per reimerseeds.com website:

Hot Pepper Seed Planting Information (per reimerseeds.com website):

Some hot pepper varieties come from tropical humid regions and some varieties come from dry desert regions. The temperature, moisture, and air circulation all play a role in growing plants from seeds. Too little heat, too much moisture, and lack of air circulation will cause poor results. Do not use jiffy peat pots, plugs, or potting soil as the soil becomes too dry or too wet, which can lead to disease and fungus. We have experienced disease and low germination when using these types of products. Use Miracle Gro Seed Starting Material for best germination results. Read theHot Pepper Growing Tips and Planting Instructions for information on growing hot peppers from seeds. Please take time to watch the Hot Pepper Planting Instructions Movie . Plants can grow 1 to 7 ft tall.


Tour de Jalapeno Bike Race & Tour

Tito’s is proud to sponsor this years Tour de Jalapeno bike race & tour taking place in San Marcos, Texas on August 2, 2015.  Tito’s is even prouder that the organizers of the Tour de Jalapeno had to make a last minute announcement after picking up the jalapenos last week.  Per the Tour de Jalapeno Facebook page:

“HOT Jalapeno Alert !!!!!!!
Tito’s Jalapeno’s are BIG and HOT…… Due to the large size and Heat we are adjusting the time deductions for each Jalapeno eaten from 2 minutes to 5 Minutes.

This brilliant event incorporates a race where riders have the opportunity to stop at two different stations where they can consume as many jalapenos as possible and for each jalapeno eaten 5 minutes (historically two minutes) will be deducted from their total time.

Riders will be enjoying Tito’s dill pickle juice at all rest stops and those who are brave enough to will have an opportunity to eat all of the whole jalapenos they can handle in an effort to reduce their overall times.  Everyone who comes out gets a package of sliced jalapenos in their riders kits.  This is going to be a great event and Tito’s is proud to sponsor it!

Tour de Jalapeno Logo