Scientists say that smell is our strongest and most evocative sense, and is, of course, closely related to taste and therefore our food.

How often do I hear from guests, smelling the wood stove on our windjammer and descending into the galley for the first time, their memories of their grandmother’s wood stove and the food she baked and roasted? The scent of freshly baked bread wafting from the galley is also guaranteed to bring folks instantly back to long-gone places and loved ones.

Although neither of my grandmothers cooked on wood stoves, other scents remind me of them. Rose scent always recalls my Nana. In a moment, I find myself back in her small, rose-themed and -scented powder room, where I never knew which bar of soap to use. She had so many out, each with little delicate tattoos of roses.

Should I use them or the one in the soap dish? Which soap dish? There were so many. Even the soap in the dish next to the faucet handles was pristine, because every time company was coming Nana would put out a new bar.

Soap stress.

After a few days, the soap nearest the handles began to look less perfect, as if someone else had already used it, and thankfully, the stress lessened. But the scent of roses still transports me to that fascinating room and to my Nana.

I often wonder what smells will remind my girls of me when they are grown. In the summer, after I’ve been up for two hours lighting the stove on our schooner and preparing breakfast, I’ll walk forward with a cup of coffee for my husband, and I’ll wake the girls. They can usually tell what’s for breakfast by the scents that drift over as I hug them awake.

Oddly enough, the smell of pickles reminds me of my grandmother. She and my mom used to spend hours canning in a hot August kitchen. The pungent smell of vinegar needed for pickling eventually emerged, layered over the sweet floral smell of strawberries for jam or the smell of tomatoes being canned.

I still make those recipes today. May you also connect with loved ones as you create anew the food they made for you when you were a child.


These pickles require no canning. Even in the refrigerator, they don’t last long in my house. If canning feels daunting, begin with this recipe. You’ll need ice.

Makes about 4 pints

2 pounds small cucumbers, well-scrubbed

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons sliced garlic

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

In a large bowl, chill the cucumbers with ice for at least 45 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized sauce pan, bring to a boil 4 cups water, the vinegar and salt and boil for about 4 minutes or until the salt has dissolved. Remove the liquid from the heat and allow to cool.

Drain the cucumbers and combine them with the garlic, dill, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Pour the cooled water mixture over the cucumbers.

Cover everything with a heavy plate to ensure the cucumbers are submerged in the pickling liquid. Add a little more water if needed. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 days and then refrigerate the pickles for up to a week.


Place the appropriate number of pint jars (plus 1 or 2 extra) and their lids in a large pot. Cover completely with hot water and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then remove the jars and lids from the pot. Set onto a clean, dry towel on the counter and begin adding your ingredients per the recipe instructions.

When the jars are full, screw on the lids and prepare to return them to the hot water. First, with a large ladle or heat-proof pitcher, remove one-third of the hot water and discard (otherwise it will spill when you return the filled jars to the pot). Place the filled jars in a metal canning basket and carefully lower the basket into the hot water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove again to the clean, dry towel, setting the jars several inches apart to cool.

As the jars cool, they should vacuum seal, a process that creates a fantastic light popping sound. This is the sound of canning success.

Press on the center of each lid before you store it to be sure each jar has sealed. If you cannot press down, all is well. If you can create a small noise by pressing, refrigerate this jar and enjoy these pickles first.


These are my favorite, by far. I grow beans just so I can make these dilly beans. They pair with hamburgers and my homemade charcuterie with equal aplomb.

Makes about 8 pints

4 pounds whole green beans (about 4 quarts)

5 cups vinegar

2/3 cup kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper per pint jar

1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed per pint jar

1/2 teaspoon dill seed per pint jar

1 clove garlic per pint jar

Wash beans thoroughly. Drain and cut into lengths to fill pint jars.

Prepare the jars as instructed at left.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, 5 cups water and the salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.

To each cleaned, prepared jar, add the red pepper, mustard seed, dill seed and garlic. Pack in the beans. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the beans, filling the jars but leaving a half-inch head space.

Screw on the lids and return the jars to the water bath to process as instructed.


These are both sweet and sour, so if that isn’t a taste that appeals to you, the pickles won’t either. But I love them and so do my girls.

Makes about 8 pints

3-1/2 pounds cucumbers, sliced

4 onions, sliced

1/4 cup kosher salt

3 cups vinegar

2 cups sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons celery seed

1-1/2 tablespoons mustard seed

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon ground ginger

Sprinkle the cucumbers and onions with salt. Cover with cold water. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, drain well. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Divvy up the mixture among the hot, sterilized pint jars, filling the jars but leaving a half-inch head space. Screw on the lids and return to the water bath to process as instructed above.

FOR MORE detailed information on how to process canned goods in a water bath go to:

National Center for Home Food Preservation, uga.deu/nchfp.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension,

Canning Pantry, (for supplies).

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]