Archive for September 13th, 2010
Last month, Arthur started a forum on canning and Meg issued a challenge for all of us to try it out. Despite the upheaval of quitting the job I’ve had for 5 years and starting full-time culinary school a couple of weeks ago, I thought I was up to the challenge. I went to the farmer’s market and purchased about 6 lbs of roma tomatoes, thinking there was no way I could let that much produce go to waste (guilt over waste is a good motivator for me). My mom got down ye olde canning book and turned to the page(s!) on tomato canning. After reading about the threat of botulism and learning I would have to have at least 3 large vessels a-boilin’ on my mom’s stove to get this “simple” operation overwith, well, I chickened out.
But fear not! I just last weekend turned those tomatoes into some pretty delicious soup and pizza sauce, so my conscience is clear. And I came up with a way to say I’ve canned something, even though I’m not really sure putting something in a jar that keeps for a little while in the refrigerator counts as canning. However, it’s as close as I’m going to get this season! I decided to make pickles. Over the last few weeks (because that’s how long it took to wrangle space in the prime real estate that is my mom’s refrigerator), I made 4 versions of quick pickles (quick meaning they’re ready to eat in 24 hours or less), including a couple of old favorites and 2 new additions to my repertoire. I’ve included the specific vegetables I used, but you can certainly try others if you prefer.
This recipe is from Food & Wine Magazine. With cucumbers, it reminds me of my favorite store-bought (no more, ha ha!) Claussen pickles. If you’re doing cucumbers, I recommend using English cucumbers or buying organic/farmer’s market/grow your own to avoid the wax coating of store-bought cucumbers. Spice fiends, before you protest, despite the name the chiles add a delightfully SUBTLE zing to these pickles. I remove the seeds, but if you leave them in I’m sure it’s spicier.
Makes 2 Quarts
cucumbers, cut into spears, stem end removed (you’ll have to eyeball the amount depending on the size)
3 T kosher salt
2 T sugar
1 1/4 C distilled white vinegar
2 T coriander seeds
6 large garlic cloves, halved
4-6 long redor green hot chiles, halved lengthwise
16 dill sprigs
Pack cucumbers into 2 clean 1-quart glass jars. In another jar, combine salt, sugar, vinegar, coriander and garlic. Shake to dissolve salt and sugar. Add 2 cups water; pour brine over cucumbers. Tuck chiles and dill between vegetables (note: if you’re like me and try to cram that last cucumber spear in there, this step will be difficult or impossible. Resist the urge. If there are too many cucumber spears in there, the ones on the bottom won’t get as much flavor until you’ve eaten some of the top spears). Add water if necessary to keep cucumbers submerged. Close jars; refrigerate overnight or up to 1 month.
This recipe is also from Food & Wine (the same article, in fact!) and is a favorite of Arthur’s. Here you go, Arthur! Now you can make them too! I think this one is just perfect with carrots, but I’m sure other vegetables would taste good in it too.
Makes 2 Quarts
Carrot sticks, peeled & blanched in boiling water for 2 min, drained & cooled
3 T kosher salt
1 T sugar
1/2 C thin matchsticks fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp Madras curry powder (not wanting to go expensive spice hunting, I used regular curry powder to fine result)
1 1/4 C unseasoned rice vinegar
Pack carrot sticks into 2 clean 1-quart glass jars. In another jar, combine the salt, sugar, ginger, garlic, curry powder and rice vinegar. Shake until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 2 C water and pour the brine over the carrot sticks (again, just like with the dill pickles, if your carrot sticks are packed too tight, the ginger and garlic won’t infiltrate the bottom sticks until some of the top ones are eaten). Add enough water to cover and keep the carrot sticks submerged. Close the jars and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month.
This one is also from Food & Wine. I was nervous about not blanching the wax beans and about the horseradish, but these turned out to be really good. I’ve never been able to find wax beans at the grocery store, but they’re available at the farmer’s market (here in Minnesota at least) starting in July. I was still able to get them toward the end of August, but I haven’t found out yet how long they’ll be available.
Makes 4 Pints
1 1/2 lb wax beans, stem ends trimmed to fit in pint jars
8 garlic cloves, halved
8 dill sprigs
4 tarragon sprigs
4 tsp black peppercorns
4 tsp prepared horseradish
1 1/2 C distilled white vinegar
1/4 C kosher salt
3 T sugar
Pack the beans in 4 pint jars, tips down. Tuck 2 halved garlic cloves, 2 dill sprigs and 1 tarragon sprig in each jar. Add 1 tsp each black peppercorns and horseradish to each jar.
In a large jar, combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar and shake until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 2 1/2 C water and shake again. Pour the brine over the beans and top jars off with water if the beans aren’t completely submerged. Close the jars and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 3 months.
Lest you think I’m a Food & Wine junkie, I’ve included this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. The recipe doesn’t say how long these will keep, but I don’t think it’s as long as the other pickles. Because the tomatoes are pierced to let in the brine, they get more and more flavorful as time passes. So maybe a week or two? These would probably be pretty delicious as a cocktail garnish.
Makes 3 Cups
3/4 C apple cider vinegar
3/4 C water
4 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
1 3 X 1/2-inch strip of lemon peel
12 oz cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and/or pear tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper (or to taste)
Bring vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and lemon peel to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat, and let cool 20 min. Pierce each tomato 2 times (on each end) with a slender wooden skewer. Toss tomatoes, dill, garlic & crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a quart jar. Add cooled vinegar mixture. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours (or, like I did, cover and stick it in the fridge if you’re keeping the tomatoes longer than 1 day).