LESLIE CRISS: Sour mood lifts when pickle search ends successfully

By Leslie Criss

“Life. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.”
- Ambrose Bierce
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s Cellar.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Five years ago in this column, I sadly announced the end had come for a family favorite – Kroger Sour Pickles.
They were pulled from the shelves and we were told production would stop.
It mattered not that we’d loved them for years, or that they were the only true SOUR pickle we could find that we liked.
When my father went Krogering, he’d purchase multiple jars and keep them in the pantry in case his sour pickle-loving daughters or granddaughter visited. He’d also serve sour pickles and onions whenever he’d fry catfish.
So, we mourned the pickles’ passing and tried to move on.
Then, suddenly, Kroger Sours were back on the shelves.
We rejoiced and we enjoyed.
Then, a few months ago, they were gone again. This time, it seems, for good.
For months, since Kroger decided once again there is no room on shelves for their own brand of sour pickles, I have been in search of a substitute.
My father has decided Mt. Olive Sours are OK to serve alongside his catfish. I’m sure Mt. Olive is a perfectly fine company, but this cucumber connoisseur just can’t cotton to their sours.
My friend Cheryl has been looking for a sour pickle recipe. So far, no luck.
She bought a jar at the Farmers’ Market on Thursday made by Mrs. Brown of Brown Family Foods. They are Hot Dill Pickles, not sours.
But, hear this: They are delicious.
Mrs. Brown told Cheryl she’d attempt to make some sours soon. You can bet, I’ll be in line to buy a jar. Or two.
Not alone
I have learned I am not alone in my passion for pickles. Searchers of sours abound online.
Imagine my delight to discover Van Holten Pickles in a Pouch, sold in any convenience store that’s worth its salt.
The folks at Van Holten obviously are aware of folks’ great love of pickles because they keep making them. And I’m grateful.
Van Holten has an entire family of pickles. There’s Big Pap, Hot Mama, Little Pepe, Garlic Gus, Sour Sis and Lil’ Sweetie. And though I was tickled to try the Sour Sis, I’ve become a fan of the hot and spicy pickles. They’re a closer match to my old favorites, Kroger Sours.
Trouble is, the pouch pickles are nearly $2 a pop. A drop in the bucket if you want a pickle every now and then. But, some of us like to eat them quite often.
Good news is, you can buy online from Van Holten’s. Any day now, I should find a big package from UPS on my porch. Three cases of pickles.
Ought to get me through the long, hot summer.
Happily.
Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.