by David Cecelski
I found this jar of pickled corn on the cob at the Clay’s Corner country store on Old Highway 64 in Clay County. The store’s proprietor told me that he grew the sweet corn himself. To pickle the corn, he simply put the ears of corn in the jar, filled the jar with water heavily laden with salt, and let the corn lightly ferment in a cool, shady place for several weeks.
His wife told me that pickled corn on the cob is an old favorite in that part of the Southern Appalachians. Pickling preserves the summer corn crop and leaves the kernels tender and sweet, but adds a strong, almost sauerkraut-like tang to the sweetness. I found it a bit of an acquired taste. As a lady there told me, “people either love it or hate it.”
The pickled eggs are another Appalachian tradition, one apparently brought to the mountains by German families in the late 19th and early 20th century. To make “pink pickled eggs” like these—and some are much pinker—you cook hard boiled eggs, peel them, and soak them in a brine that includes apple vinegar, pickled beets and their juice, salt, sugar, and a variety of spices—cloves and cinnamon, at least, but sometimes celery seed and mustard, too.