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VACAVILLE YOUTH TACKLE PICKLING ADVENTURE

A strong aroma of vinegar wafted through the Trower Center Thursday afternoon, but the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club kids in attendance were all smiles.
Probably because the slightly sour scent signaled a future snack — pickles.
“I want one,” advised Dalahn Hasan, 6, as she helped twist the lids on several mason jars full of dill pickles. “They taste good.”
Unfortunately, none of the Club kids got a sample because the pickles had to sit overnight and won’t be ready until some time today. But of course, that didn’t stop them from swarming the prep tables and staring awestruck at the goodies.
“Everything came from the towers,” acknowledged Susan Schwartz, a longtime volunteer who coordinates much of the Club’s extracurricular activities.
She indicated the tower gardens on the patio, full of leafy vines and edible produce. “We picked them clean,” she said, though the burgeoning gardens looked like they hadn’t been touched at all.
Schwartz directed the youth and staffer Josefina Arteaga, with the Club’s Acacia branch, in pickle making.
Arteaga and a selection of youth sliced a mountain of cucumbers into spears while another group of youngsters watched a pot on the stove, stirring the vinegar and spices mixture inside.
pickles with wordsOn the menu — bread and butter pickles and kosher dill pickles.
Nevaeh Albright, 11, and Sarai Quero, 13, giggled as they worked.
“It’s so strong,” Sarai described the vinegar scent, wrinkling her nose as she sliced.
Both girls said they’re used to lending a hand in the kitchen.
“I help with cooking at home all the time,” Albright shared.
Quero agreed, but said the vegetables she usually works with are different from the squiggly-shaped cucumbers of the day.
“The hardest part is cutting this,” she said, holding up a crescent-shaped baby cucumber.
Schwartz said the abundance of produce and a potential life lesson culminated in the day’s adventures in pickles.
“I want them to know how to preserve things,” she explained.
Usually, the kids help out making salads, enchiladas and other goodies with produce grown at the Club. On this day, they would learn how to preserve an abundance of crops for use all year long.
“Last year, we made freezer jam,” she said. “It was a hit.”
Last year was also the first year the youths sold something they made — and the small profits were folded back into the Club.
By day’s end, four jars of bread and butter pickles and 12 jars of kosher dills were completed. Following an overnight marinating period, the pickles will be ready to eat.
This means that, by today’s snack time, the kids will literally get to taste the fruits of their labor.
By Kimberly K. Fu, kfu@thereporter.com, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter