For Deloris Tarkington, it's in the canning

August 18, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

ALUM SPRINGS - Buying a new pressure cooker prompted Deloris Tarkington to enter her canned goods in the Boyle County Fair for the first time. Her entries earned several blue ribbons for the long-time canner.

"I can everything. The kids and grandkids love it all, especially my pickles. I grow my own dill and garlic," she says. "My grandkids love Tarky's Pickles."

Her dill pickle recipe comes from a Kerr canning book purchased long ago and held together with some masking tape. It complements a well-worn slicer that she has been using for 20 years to make pickles.

"I'm going yard saling and see if I can find another slicer," says Tarkington, who is retired from Kroger.

Her son, David Tarkington, lives next-door to her home on Ky. 300, and often asks his mother to can something.

"He'll say, 'Mom, will you put something in a jar for me?' He'll come with a basket of something."


This year, one of the baskets was full of grapes that she made into grape jelly.

Her daughter, Cathy Martin, loves her mother's beet pickles. Her other daughter, Coral Bower, lives in South Carolina, but she is not left out. She likes green beans.

"I take them to her. I can her about 14 pints."

Canning was a little more challenging this year

Canning this year was a little more challenging because Tarkington had to buy a new canner after the Environmental Protection Agency declared the safety valve on her pressure cooker as unsafe because it had lead in it. She didn't know how to use the Mirro brand pressure cooker she ordered from Wisconsin, so she took it to the Boyle County extension office for help. The staff there couldn't provide much direction, but they did encourage her to put her canned goods in the fair.

With the help of her husband, Horace, she eventually got the hang of using the new pressure cooker.

"My husband kept reading and looking and said, 'Let's try it.'"

Tarkington has kept track of her daily canning. In addition to the standard canned goods such as tomato juice, green beans and pickles, she has placed okra, onions, beets and pepper rings in jars.

"Some people like them on pizza," she says.

She also makes salsa and likes to use Miss Wages' mix.

"This year, I had to use Ball. That's all I could find."

With the tomato juice, she likes to use it in the winter to make chili and soup.

"I like it once in a while with a little sugar in it and get it cold and drink it."

Elderberries are another unusual item that she makes into jelly.

She freezes corn

About the only vegetable that Tarkington doesn't like to can is corn.

"I love my corn frozen. It tastes like you went out and picked it," she says, noting that she bags it with a Food Saver that seals in freshness.

Normally, she works like the little red hen, completing the project from start to finish.

"Sometimes my husband will help me, but I like to get by myself and do my work," she says, noting that her husband does like to cut the okra off the plants. He also likes to turn the crank for making tomato juice.

Even with her garden work, Tarkington finds time to grow flowers. Each spring, she spends three months working at Griffith's Nursery.

Although the summer days are growing shorter, Tarkington is not slacking off. She has plenty of pickle making ahead.

"I've got another row coming in and I'll really make them then."

Fresh Kosher Style Dill Pickles

30 to 36 cucumbers cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces

3 cups vinegar

3 cups water

6 tablespoons salt

Fresh or dried dill


Mustard seed

Wash the cucumbers. Make a brine of the vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Place a generous layer of dill, 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic (sliced) and 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seed in the bottom of each clean, quart jar. Pack the cucumbers into the jars. When the jars are half filled with cucumbers, add another layer of dill and complete the packing of the jars. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top with the boiling brine. Put cap on jars, screwing the band tight. Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath.

Stuffed Peppers

1 pound ground beef

Medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic salt

1 cup rice or corn cooked

15-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 can tomato soup

Celery, optional

Six large, bell peppers

Brown the meat and onions and drain the fat. Mix with other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes and stuff in bell peppers that have been boiled for five minutes. Freeze and when ready to eat, microwave for 10 minutes and sprinkle with cheese.

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