Friday, July 29, 2011

“Pickled Delights: Part Two”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
- Thomas Jefferson

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this space about the disappearance of Penrose pickled sausages. A personal investigation revealed that ConAgra had eliminated this spicy treat from their company roster in 2009.

Recipes that promised to recreate the flavorful snack at home also appeared with the stories I read. So after my column was published, my thoughts turned toward our household kitchen.

Writing about these lost delights was not enough. I wanted to make them here.
Gathering the necessary ingredients wasn’t difficult. The brine consisted of - 3 cups vinegar; 1 cup water; ¾ cup brown sugar; ½ tbsp. crushed red pepper; and 1 tbsp. pickling spices. I simmered all the ingredients for five minutes and poured it into canning jars filled with smoked sausage and fresh onions.

A minimum holding time of two days was suggested in the directions, before eating. Personally, I guessed that a much longer period would produce better results. But I took a jar to my oldest nephew, who has a strong inclination to try new things at the dinner table before anyone else.

His verdict was positive. My experiment had been a success.

Further research about making pickled sausages yielded other suggested ingredients for the recipe that seemed sure to add variety and flavor:

Minced garlic
Bay leaves
Pickling salt
Tabasco sauce
Chile peppers
Mustard seed

I couldn’t help wondering if Geauga County maple syrup should be added to this list.
Although genuine Penrose sausages had vanished, I discovered that lots of other pickled delights remained available from producers around the country:

Long Lake Distributing LLC
DBA Long Lake Foods
Clintonville, WI

Malone, New York
518-565-0095 or 518-314-9770

Red Smith
Davie, FL
(Also available at selected Walmart stores)

Porkie Company of Wisconsin
Cudahy, WI

Herb's Snack Foods, LLC
Gibbstown, NJ

Gilbert’s Craft Sausages
Denmark, WI

While pondering all this new information, I remembered an old family recipe for banana peppers stuffed with hot dogs, in a pickled brine. The snack was something I had long wanted to recreate. No one in the family could remember how it had been prepared. But finally, kitchen courage appeared. I made a trip to my local Giant Eagle store, and bought the obvious ingredients.

My culinary experiment was certain to continue… for a long time to come!

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