Tag Archives: pickled

Foraging

Due to the bizarro weather we’ve had around here lately, Mother Nature is all out of whack. Estimates on crop losses from the orchards around here are around 90%. Other edibles that aren’t as sensitive to frosts are ahead of schedule. Take morels for example.

My usual “window” for foraging morels runs somewhere from the 21st of April to Memorial Day. This year, hubby and I started finding those elusive fungi the last week in March. These photos are actually from the first three weeks of April. We did pretty well for a while, and I did dry some to use throughout the winter, but the season that started three weeks early seems to have dried up three weeks early as well. When I went searching on Mother’s Day 2012, I found only one, and that was an accident. It had been kicked over by someone or something and dried out long before I stumbled upon it.

Despite the fact that I didn’t find any morels on this year’s hike, I didn’t come home empty-handed. Dylan and I ran into my friend Stephanie and her kids. They were looking for ramps, so we joined them. Dylan and I came home with a mesh produce bag filled with ramps (or wild leeks). I’ve used some of them in cooking since then, but my real goal was to can them. More precisely, to pickle them.

If you can find them, pickled ramps can be quite pricey. I’ve made them before and everyone that’s ever tried them loves them. However, I’ve become quite a hoarder. I dole them out sparingly to friends and family members that will appreciate them as much as I do. When we open a jar, it is hard not to eat the entire thing. Once all the delicious ramps have been devoured from the pickling brine, I add it to BBQ sauces, marinades and dressings; the flavor is exquisite.

From the bag Dylan and I brought home, I managed to can five half-pint jars. This isn’t enough for me to check #58 off of my 101 in 1001, but it is a good start. It also gets me 1.25 quarts closer to my pickle goal for #53!

For the recipe, check out my Jerked Onion recipe from the Can Jam and substitute whole ramps for the cut onions, or click here for a printable version: Jerk Pickled Ramps Printable Recipe

 

 

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July Can Jam ~ Cucurbits (Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles)

Okay, so I had fairly grand plans for this month’s Jam.  I was going to experiment with zucchini.  Or make an exotic pickled cucumber.  But, time got away from me and lo and behold today is the deadline!!!  And, I don’t have time now; there will be time for zucchini and exotic pickles later.  For now, I stuck with an old standby.  I didn’t even have time to take pictures yet; but I will and will add them later.  See, I promised pictures so you shall have pictures!  However, with T-minus-one-and-a-half hours, I just need to get the post up before my deadline (and my bedtime) and not mess around with this antique desktop trying to get pictures uploaded.  (Yes, the laptop is still out of commission.)

Without further adieu:

Classic Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Kosher Dill Pickles
4 lbs. (4″) pickling cucumbers (from both my 9 Bean Rows CSA share and Olds Farm)
6 tbsp. pickling salt
3 c. distilled white vinegar (I always use 4 cups each of water and vinegar since the year I ran short on brine; plus three and three yields a really salty dill.)
3 c. water
fresh dill (from my herb butterfly garden)
21 peppercorns
14 garlic cloves from Olds Farm

  • Clean and sterilize jars and lids; add to water bath and bring to a boil. 
  • Wash cucumbers and cut to desired pickle shape; I did a variety of spears and slices.
  • Combine salt, vinegar and water; heat to boiling.
  • Pack cucumbers into clean, hot jars.  Add three peppercorns, two garlic cloves and a sprig of fresh dill to each jar.  (I need to remember to add way more dill next time.  I didn’t buy any when I was at the Farmers’ Market and had to make do with the dill that grew in my yard.) 
  • Fill packed jars with hot brine to within 1/2″ of jar top and seal.
  • Process in prepared boiling water bath for 1o minutes.  (The book says fifteen but it makes the pickles mushy; read the footnote.)*

This made 8 pints with enough brine leftover for me to make a jar of “refrigerator pickles” which I didn’t process.

You can add more seasoning to make a spicier dill, but if I spice them too much, my kids won’t eat them.  I’ll make another batch for myself later. 🙂

*This recipe is from “Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America” by the food editors of Farm Journal (1964).  I got this book at an estate sale about 15 years ago.  While some safety guidelines have changed over the years, I use this book as a reference and source of inspiration for lots  of canning recipes; I love it.  When I get around to adding the pictures, I’ll add a photo of the book too.  I know.  Boring.  Traditional.  DELICIOUS!

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

Oh, and Tigress, thanks again for getting me back to my blog!

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May Can Jam ~ Pickled Asparagus

I have to admit that until now I’ve never actually eaten a pickled asparagus spear.  I love pickled cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.  Pickled onions are yummy and “dilly” beans are delicious.   Up ’til now, the occasion has just not presented itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus.  I was sure that I would love pickled asparagus.  I have looked at expensive little jars of pickled asparagus, but couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 for one little jar.  So, when the Can Jam ingredients were announced, I knew what I was going to do.  

I googled recipes; bought tall, 12 oz. jelly jars; picked up five pounds of asparagus from Olds’ Farm at the Farmers’ Market and created this: 

Tarragon Pickled Asparagus 

(Makes 7 – 12 oz. jelly jars.)

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

  • Start with about 100 spears of asparagus trimmed to fit into tall jelly jars.  (I started with five pounds, but I only used the top four inches or so of each spear for my pickling and had enough spears left over to serve with dinner the next day.)

  

For the Brine: 

  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 3 cups water

To each jar add: 

aromatics

Seasonings to be added to each jar.

  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 allspice
  • 30-40 brown mustard seeds
  • 3″ sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 wild leek trimmed to fit

I did not blanch my asparagus first.  I found recipes that called for it and recipes that didn’t.  I contemplated it, but decided that asparagus turns brown enough when you cook it so it doesn’t need  a minute of cooking in addition to the ten minutes in the boiling water bath.  The only benefit I can see to blanching is that the spears are more pliable so that you could fit more spears into a jar. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Place canning jars into canning pot, fill with water and set on stove to brings to a boil. 
  2. If you haven’t already, wash asparagus and trim to fit the height of your jars.  If you use the tougher bottom ends of the asparagus, you may need to peel them but the tender top bits shouldn’t need to be peeled.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan.  When the water bath comes to a boil, bring the brine to a boil.
  4. Remove jars from canner one at a time and start packing:
  5. Add peppercorns, allspice and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.  Fill the jar about halfway with spears (tips up), tuck a sprig of tarragon into the jar and finish packing.  Once the jar seems full, shove the leek between the spears bulb-end up.  This will help keep the spears from moving around.

    Asparagus ready to be brined.

    Jar packed and ready to be filled with brine.

  6. In the picture above you will notice some asparagus “bottoms” visible.  Some of my spears were long enough to use both the bottom and the top of the spear so I peeled the bottoms of the longer spears and added them to the jars.  Once the jar is full ladle hot brine into the jar leaving head space and seal the jar.
  7. Work quickly to pack the rest of your jars; by the time I finished packing the seventh jar, my first jars were already browning.  Once the jars are full, return them to the boiling water bath and process for ten minutes. 
  8. Pull the beautiful jars out and wait for that rewarding, “Pop!”
Finished Jars of Pickled Asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus Spears

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Can Jam Challenge Round Three ~ Jerked Onion

Onions.  Often overlooked but an important component of many recipes, there are so many possibilities with the onion.  Because there are so many possibilities with onions, I didn’t know where to start.  I found all kinds of pickled onion recipes, but they were all pretty straight-forward.  You know, onions, vinegar, salt.  The usual pickle ingredients.  If I had little boiler onions, I might have tried a simple recipe.  But I had these: 

Bag of onions

Yellow onions from the market.

I’ve had them in storage since the start of the winter, but they’re local so I was excited to can them.  I couldn’t just straight-up vinegar these onions though so I decided to adjust the seasonings in a basic canned onion recipe and came up with this: 

Jerked Pickled Onions 

3 cups local onions from the Farmers’ Market, cut. (I quartered mine, but Julienned would be nice.)
One giant clove or several small cloves of garlic from Providence Farms, sliced.
1/4 c. salt
12 allspice berries
15 peppercorns
2 dried chilis from last year’s summer market
2 knobs of ginger
6 sprigs of thyme
2 c. distilled white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. molasses 

  1. Sprinkle the onions with salt.  Let them rest while you prepare the brine.
  2. Add spices, sugar and vinegar (but not molasses) to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

    Mis en place.

    Sugar and spice and everything nice.

  3. Boil the mixture for ten minutes.
  4. Stir a teaspoon of molasses into the boiling brine.
  5. Shake the salt off the onions, but don’t rinse them.
  6. Pack onions into hot jars.
  7. Fill jars with brine leaving head space.
  8. I added the spices to the jars because I like the way they look and because I’m hoping the flavors will intensify as they age but you could strain them out or boil them in a cheesecloth.
  9. Process in a boiling-water bath for five minutes.
  10. Pickled jerk onions

    Jerked Pickled Onions

I made this batch mild because I want to make sure they’re edible before I tweak the recipe.  For a hotter, more authentic Jamaican Jerk flavor, I would use scotch bonnet or habañero peppers.  

Oh, and Lelo, I’m finally ready for those labels ‘cuz these onions are worthy.

 

Previous Can Jam Entries:

January: Citrus (Blood Orange Marmalade)      February: Pickled Carrot Spears

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Maybe I Can’t Jam Carrots, But I Can Pickle them!

Ok, so I could in theory jam carrots.  In fact, Tigress jammed hers, but I opted for pickles.  It seemed the natural thing to do with carrots.  I scoured the internet for recipes and ended up modifying a recipe for gardiniera.  I increased the vinegar because the original recipe was for refrigerator-style pickled veggies and not canned and safety is a concern when canning. 

I wanted so badly to use local carrots.  I thought for certain I could find them.  Alas, there were none to be found.  Not at the Mercato.  Not at Oryana.  Definitely not at the grocery.  I even E-mailed the folks at Providence Farm.  They had carrots.  Unfortunately they are in the ground still.  Andrea was confident that they’d be good for soup or stew if I wanted them, but I wanted crisp carrots so I had to settle for organic carrots from California.

I bought two bags and brought them home.  And waited.  And waited.  The kids ate a good chunk of my carrots before I yelled at them.  I bought another bag.  And waited.  I realized that I didn’t have any of the tall jelly jars that I wanted for this particular project.  I bought jars.  I went to the store and bought new vinegar. (That is a whole post in itself and I’m on a deadline, so I’ll get back to this.  See, I told you I’d get to it.)

Finally, I was ready to can.  I peeled carrots.  I even got Gwen to help me peel carrots.  Once the carrots were peeled, I trimmed them so that they would fit in my jars with adequate head space.  See?

Peeled carrots

Only the thin tips of the carrots would make it into my jars this time.

These are the tips from 5-ish punds of carrots.  Once the carrots were prepped, I put my jars into my oven at 200 degrees so that they wouldn’t shatter when I poured hot brine in them, turned on the boiling water bath and started the pickling brine:

3 cups distilled white vinegar
3 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
the seeds from a Farmers’ Market pepper that I dried this summer

Bring the brine to a boil and add carrots.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Pack hot carrots into hot jars, fill with brine leaving 1/2″ headspace, lid the jars and process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

Inverted jars of pickled carrots

Three measly 12 oz. jars??

One would think that 6 pounds of carrots would result in more than three jars.  It did, but there weren’t enough spears to fill another jar so unfortunately, I had to eat the extra spears.  They were delicious.  I had more brine left, so I sliced some more carrots and boiled them in the brine for two minutes. 

Pickled carrot slices

Slices aren't as pretty as spears, but they are just as tasty.

I managed to fill one pint jar with carrot coins, but Gwen and I finished at least another pint before they ever hit a jar.

Now, I just have to contact Lelo in Nopo and order up my fancy-shmancy labels. 

Today I bought four more pounds of carrots, but I will be planting lots this year because these pickled carrots are a hit!

Previous Can Jam entries:

January: Blood Orange Marmalade

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