In an era before refrigeration, canning, pickling and salt were a means of preserving food. All summer long, fruits would be canned as soon as they were ripe - cherries in July, peaches and pears in August. Raspberries and strawberries turned into jam, apples into applesauce, while grapes were made into juice, jelly and wine. And there were dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, pickled watermelon rinds, onions, and beets. And, of course, sauerkraut.
In addition to "putting up" fruits and vegetables, people preserved meat in infinite varieties of sausage, pickled pigs feet, head cheese, and pork chops packed in a barrel between layers of salt. Sausage would then be smoked, and all would be stored in a cool cellar.
Today's residents continue the tradition of raising fruits and vegetables, in part, because there is no grocery store in the neighborhood, but also because they enjoy growing their own and preserving their culinary heritage. Tomatoes are still a staple and varieties of chili peppers complement tomatillos, onions, squash, and beans. Chili peppers are then roasted, skinned and frozen for use during the rest of the year.
In the fall, the aroma of smoked sausage rises from "Polack Valley" and the fragrance of chilies roasting throughout the neighborhood are reminders of traditions - of preserving food and your ethnic heritage.
Photo @ Freepik
Photo @ Mary Lou Egan