Refrigerator bread-and-butter pickles are an easy and safe alternative to canning. (Kathy D’Agostino photo)

“The weather just went from 90 to 55 like it saw a state trooper.” – Unknown

I may be showing my age, but I remember The Brothers Four singing “Try to Remember” on television years ago. Whether it was on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “Hootenanny” I can’t recall. It’s a lovely folk song that always stirs up memories of summers gone by.

I thought of that song when I heard that Tom Jones had passed away at the end of August. He was the playwright who wrote the book and lyrics for the hit musical “The Fantasticks.”

“Try To Remember” was the opening song to that play: “Try to remember the kind of September / When life was slow and oh, so mellow / Try to remember the kind of September / When grass was green and grain was yellow.”

Time seemed to pass so quickly this summer and rain dampened many days. Just like that, we’re seeing summer through the rearview mirror. We all have memories of summers gone by.

September was always prime time for harvest on the farm. When I was a young girl, all systems were go in that department. My father was busy finishing the wheat harvest and getting ready to chop the 200 acres of corn for the silos.

Early September was also the time my mother kicked it into high gear in the canning department. She would freeze and can vegetables and fruits from the local farmers and the orchards nearby. We never really had our own vegetable garden. We didn’t need one. There were so many other farms in the area that it was much easier just to buy their produce. We always went to the nearby Stonyfield Orchard. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Sheibner ran the whole operation alone. He had the most beautiful Jersey peaches and apples, plus any vegetable you could think of in copious amounts. He had the greenest thumb I have ever seen. He sold half-bushel baskets of peaches, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. for $1.50. A full bushel went for $3.

Now, I know my parents went through the Great Depression, but when he put the price up to $1.75, I can remember my mother going absolutely bananas. I later realized that price increases, no matter how small, were a big deal for her generation. Despite complaining about the extra 25 cents, the car was loaded with goodies when we drove home. I knew that when we got to the house, we were going to can our hearts out — and can we did!

She would can tomatoes, tomato sauce, three kinds of pickles, beets, peaches, plums and two types of beans. She would freeze cherries (yes, we picked cherries back then), black and red raspberries, and string beans.

Here is the best part: She soaked and washed the peaches, then peeled them. She saved the peels and pits and put them in a large, covered pot with an inch or so of water. She would bring the pot to a boil and immediately put its contents into a large strainer over a larger pot. She then covered the strainer with a clean towel and allowed those skins and pits to drip for hours. She had so many peelings that she would have two to three pots sitting on the stovetop at a time.

At the end of the day, she took the peelings and tossed them. (I guess now is a good time to tell you that my parents never wasted anything). She would sweeten the collected “juice” at the bottom of the pots and add a pinch of pectin, then jar and process the concoction. It resulted in 5-6 pints of the best peach syrup I have ever tasted in my life. When we put it on French toast or pancakes, we thought we were in heaven.

I thought a recipe for canning would be in order, with all the excess cucumbers that materialize this time of year. I try to put some away every year. However, canning is quite the process, and considering the safety factor, I figured a recipe for refrigerated pickles would be safer and less cumbersome.

I consulted with my friend Louise “Lou” Chamberland from Cooking at 43° North. She previously gave us her recipe for baked beans, which was published here in May 2022. This time I got a recipe that her mother-in-law passed down. It’s a wonderful one. So find your jars, scrub them well, clear some space in the fridge and give this recipe a go. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy!



6 cups cucumbers, cut in approximately 1/4-inch slices

1 medium onion, thinly sliced (optional)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups sugar (may substitute 1 cup light-brown sugar)

Using a mandoline, slice cucumbers and onion and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Cover and chill for one hour in the fridge. After an hour, transfer the cukes and onion to a colander and rinse them well. Transfer the onions and cukes to jars that are well cleaned. Do not pack tightly. Place all the other ingredients in a saucepan and heat well until sugar is dissolved. Ladle the mixture over the pickles, trying to include some of the seeds in each jar. Let cool in jars to room temperature. Cover and place in the fridge.

Makes 3 pints. Will be ready to eat in 6 days but best after 2 weeks. If kept tightly sealed, they should last for 3 months.

For those without access to fresh vegetables, Sharing Tables offer free fruits and vegetables every Wednesday throughout the summer. See for locations.

Cooking at 43° North, a program of Harpswell Aging at Home, brings Harpswell residents together for cooking programs, in person and online. Watch the Anchor calendar for listings.

HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to seniors in need of emergency assistance. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or