Appalachian Food


squash pickles

“When I was a child, we lived in the north Georgia mountains. Mother would make a barrel of pickled beans with pickling salt. She put them in the springhouse but never canned them. Mother made pickles by the sign of the zodiac, never during Virgo or Scorpio. She only used white half-runner or cornfield beans. But that was long ago. I think any fresh tender bean would do.”

—Lucinda McClure Chastain, Cherokee County, Georgia.

My cucumber, squash, and zucchini production has been so poor this year that I haven’t made one run of pickles. I do aim to make some pickled beets, hopefully this week. Last year I had a bumper crop so I do have a few jars left that I put up last summer.

I’ve been thinking about pickling a few green beans, and boy does Lucinda make it sound easy 🙂 Here’s some of my favorite pickle recipes.

Last night’s video: Messing and Gomming in Appalachia


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 16, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    I made 11 pints of bread and butter pickles this year before my cucumbers just stopped producing. For a while I was getting enough to eat but now the vines are dying back. There are a few blooms but they are not making anything. I put my pickles in ½ pint jars last year. I had about 3 dozen jars that lasted me a couple of months. I can eat a ½ pint jar in one sitting and still want more.

  • Reply
    pippin Baker
    August 16, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Tipper, I just gmailed you with some breaking news, but talking about pickles my mother made
    bonzer tomato relish n cauliflower pickles, BUT my best story is about an Airedale dog we had n my brother dyed it with some thing he concocted and it’ s coat turned orange probably used tumeric or sumthin AND it was called Pickles, My mother growled him n said[ you wait till your Papa gets home, so he ran away, when Papa came home, he called Jim to come out , he did, very scared, but Papa split his sides laughing because Jim had stuffed his knee length[ in those days pants] with straw, and his behind stood out like a huge bustle, , another time he DID get a hiding when he used ether[ he used to fly little planes he made, n ether was the fuel used] to put ALL THE CHOOKS, DUCKS N ALL TO SLEEP. in the chookyard.HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • Reply
      August 16, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      Pippin-great story!

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 16, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Growing up in East Tennessee, “gom” was standard usage for anything that got messed up. If a car wouldn’t run right, the carburetor was often found to be all “gommed” up and needing a bit of carb cleaner. And someone not doing a job properly was found to have really “gommed” things up, having given it only a “lick and a promise!”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 16, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    The bounty of a garden is endless! We take cucumbers from the garden and make 20 different kinds of pickles from them. We take corn from the garden and make corn on the cob, niblett corn, creamed corn, and pickled corn. We take green beans and freeze them, can them, make pickled beans from them and we string and dry them.
    A garden is a wonderful thing! Most people today don’t cook or even go to the grocery much, they eat out and they miss the joy of growing and preserving their own food. Seems like a sad loss to me!
    The picture is beautiful!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    August 16, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Good morning my hillbilly friend! I did watch your video from last evening on YT. As usual it was a lot of fun and I learned about GALAX ( the Fiddlers convention) which was this past week and it’s actually a leafy evergreen ( I did not know that!) I didn’t attend this year because I’ve got too much to do. I’m sorry to hear your cucumbers and zucchini did not prosper this year but maybe you can pick up a bushel or two of these things. I think I’m heading to NC to find some fruits to preserve. All I do is ride to Surry County which is just down Fancy Gap Mountain. Have a good day Miss Tipper! Finally got good rain and a cool day up here in Bluefield, WV. I’m glad of that.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    August 16, 2021 at 10:19 am

    I looked it up. Gaum rhymes with tom and is as a transitive verb meaning to smudge or smear. My dictionary notes that it is used regionally and is an alteration of gum.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2021 at 10:15 am

    The only picking I did was bread and butter and dill pickles. I haven’t tried any of the other. My Aunt always does pickled beets.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    August 16, 2021 at 10:09 am

    That word has to be from Ireland. (1) My Irish maternal grandmother used it and (2) I saw it, spelled gaum, in an anthology of Irish short stories. Both usages had to do with making a mess.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2021 at 9:59 am

    I still hear messin’ and gommin’ occasionally, but almost in a joking way when somebody wants to prevent it by going out to eat. As a child I never cared for pickled beans, but later my sister prepared them like her Mother-in- law by pouring off the liquid and lightly sauteing them sith a side of mashed potatoes and some cornbread. It kills the probiotics, but is quite tasty prepared in that way. You are going way back with this post. I hardly know anybody that pickles beans anymore, and nobody really does it the old time way that I know. I have oucjked kits of beans and corn, but steer clear of the salt more these days. Something that was very commonly made was kraut, and an old favorite was kraut and weiners.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 16, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Regarding your garden doing poorly in some respects, I seem to think this every year but this year seems just ‘different’. I really think my thinking that just means that each year is unique with no two just alike. Here something happened that I don’t recall seeing in the previous 28 years; after the Japanese beetles completely ate the apple tree leaves, it put out new leaves and is blooming now. Pore thang is all mommicked up.

    We listened to your Appalachian Gs video and I wanted to share a bit different use of “gap” that I think will interest you. Over in the Cumberland Plateau country of KY, TN and northeast AL “gap” is used in two different ways. There is ‘gap of the ridge’ and then there is ‘gap of the cliff’. If it matters when speaking that difference is made, otherwise just plain ‘gap’. But with the thousands of miles of cliffline, gaps in them are important places to know about or one can get ‘cliffted’ and can’t get up if below or down if above. Those gaps are also the natural trailways for everything that walks, especially deer. I also seem to dimly recall hearing ‘fence gap’ a time or two. If I really did, I suspect it was in use when most fences were rail and there was a need for going across without climbing over. I never heard tell what the structure(s) of such a ‘gap’ might have been. Maybe a stile such as —> making a passage too tight for stock but OK for people? There is (or used to be) one like that where the AT goes through Roan Mountain bald.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      August 16, 2021 at 3:13 pm

      We made a gap in the pasture by setting 4 locust posts on the ground, 2 side by side on each side of the “gap” facing each other. We nailed 4-2 bys across each set in a ladder fashion and laid poles between and on them. The poles were called bars. The bars could be slid back and forth to create an opening or close it. You could create one just wide enough to walk through just by sliding the bars back enough to lay them down or you could pull them all the way back and have a wide opening for perhaps a farm sled or even a truck if you were lucky enough to have one. The structure as a whole was a gap. “You get the gap down while I catch the cow!”
      A horse or cow couldn’t get through a gap, you would think. They would have to lift and pull the bars sideways at the same time. For the most part it worked well but we had one little Jersey cow that was smarter that the average. She had horns and would lower her head, hook them under the bars and slide them over. At first we thought it was a human letting our cattle out until we caught her in the act. We had to attack loops of wire to slide the bars through so she couldn’t raise them up enough to slide them.
      All the people in our community had gaps in their fences like that. A couple had mangates that cow couldn’t get through as well as the gap with bars. The problem with the mangate was it worked for full sized cattle but calves and colts could walk right through and wander off. When mama discovered her baby was missing you have a problem on your hands.
      When I was young I didn’t bother letting down the bars when I went in the pasture. I would run at it kinda like a high jumper but instead of trying to clear it I would put my hand on it and swing my legs over. If I tried that today, if I made it over, I would shatter when I hit the ground on the other side.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2021 at 8:55 am

    I made several runs of pickles last year and still have plenty left. It didn’t make sense to use my hard to find jar lids to make more, so I gave a truckload of cucumbers away this year. Mom used to make what she called mixed pickles using whatever she had left over from a canning. I remember it being mostly beans and corn. It sure was good with fried taters and cornbread.

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 16, 2021 at 8:49 am

    My wife’s Aunt Omie,made some of the best pickles I ever eat.We was fortunate to be able to eat some Sunday Dinners at her humble home in Petros Tn in the mid seventies. She would give us a tour of her basement, the walls would be lined with all kinds of canned food,but the pickles were Blue Ribbon Winners.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    August 16, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Messing and Gomming
    Gomm, Gommed and Gomming (o pronounced same as in hot.). I used to hear those three words often, but not so much, anymore. The best I can remember the usages was in reference to making a mess, as in “Johnny, don’t gomm jelly all over the table”! Dad was good at gomming jelly on biscuits.
    It will interesting to learn others remember the usage of gomm.

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