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Slightly Sweet Zucchini Fridge Pickles

two jars of finished pickles

When I was in Portland a couple weeks ago, my parents’ garden was in full swing. There were pole beans, baby greens in a big tub, slicing cucumbers, and an endless number of zucchini. I spent most of my time there preoccupied by the zucchini and all the culinary options it offers.

three zucchini

I pan-fried thick rounds in olive oil and garlic one night. The next day I made a big batch of zucchini butter to spread on toast and toss with pasta. I also made a huge batch of quick zucchini pickles for my parents to layer into their sandwiches.

zucchini in food processor

One thing you might notice about this recipe is that it calls for whole grain mustard rather than dried mustard seeds. This choice was driven entirely by what my mom had available in the house. And truly, I think the prepared mustard was a really nice addition. It adds a bit of extra body to the liquid and a nice roundness to the finished pickle.

finished zucchini pickles top

Because I made these pickles with an eye towards sandwiches, the slices are pretty thin. I you prefer something a little chunkier, feel free to do a thicker cut. You could also process these in a boiling water bath. However, if you have the fridge space, the texture of the fridge version really is a bit more sturdy and toothsome (which I like). To each his own!

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Gingery Pickled Blueberries for International Can-It-Forward Day

Sad news, friends. The livestream isn’t working. We’re recording demos as I type, and they’ll be available tomorrow. The Ball Mason Jar Celebrity Auction and the special $5 deal on the Ball Canning Discovery Kit (use the coupon code CIFD15 to get the discount) are still happening, so make sure to check them out.

finished pickled blueberries horizontal

It’s International Can-It-Forward Day! Time to stop what you’re doing, get yourself some produce and head to the canning pot. If blueberries are still in season, may I suggest a batch of Gingery Pickled Blueberries?

blueberries in colander

When I first started pickling fruit four or five years ago, I experienced a lot of resistance. People weren’t familiar with it and so often dismissed it as unappealing. However, thanks to both the increasing popularity of shrubs/drinking vinegars and chefs who started putting all manner of pickled fruit on their menus, I’m finding a more welcome climate out there for these tangy preserves.

pouring berries into colander

I find that pickled blueberries are a really great introduction to the world of pickled fruit. For one thing, the require almost no preparation (pickled peaches are also delicious, but you’ve got to scald those peels off). You give the berries a quick rinse and look them over to remove any stubborn stems.

berry-stained tools

The brine is nothing more than vinegar, water, sugar, and some sliced ginger. Once it boils, you tumble the berries in and cook for a few minutes. Once they’ve started to boil and the brine turns dark purple, the cooking portion is done. You get the berries in the jars, top them off with brine, pop the lids and rings on, and into the canning pot they go.

pickled blueberries side

I like to eat these berries with cheese or scattered on top of a salad of baby arugula, feta, and toasted almonds. They pair really well with creamy cheeses, and I’ll often take a jar to parties with a log of goat cheese and some sturdy crackers. They also go really nicely anywhere that you’d serve cranberry sauce.

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CSA Cooking: Zucchini, Fennel, and Green Pepper Relish

fennel zucchini pepper relish

Relish is one of those condiments that doesn’t get as much love as it should. Most people associate it with hot dogs and not much else. However, I find that a mixed relish like this one has much to offer.

During the glut of the summer growing season, it can be pressed into service as a catch-all for produce that would otherwise go unloved. And once in jars, it brings welcome crunch and pucker to cheese boards, sandwiches, burgers, and salmon cakes.

This particular batch absorbed the green peppers and onion from my July Philly Foodworks share, along with two heft zucchini and some young, sweet fennel bulbs. It left our apartment smelling like the most delicious sandwich shop ever for at least 24 hours, and while I’ve not yet cracked open a jar, I have grand plans for it once the weather starts to cool.

I’m curious. How many of you out there are relish lovers? If you haven’t tried it, what’s stopping you?

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International Can-It-Forward Day and Onion Pickles from the Ball Blue Book

finished pickled onions four jars

This year’s International Can-It-Forward Day is now just a week away! In seven days, I’ll be at the Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana with some other fine folks. We’ll be demonstrating recipes and sharing jar tricks on the livestream, along with delightful people from the Ball Canning team.

frozen pearl onions

I’ll have the day’s livestream running right here on the blog on Saturday, so make sure to tune in starting at 11 am eastern time to see all the interesting and useful programming we will have for you. Oh, and for those of you who asked, this is an online-only event. Unlike in years past, there’s no way to participate if you live close by (so sorry!).

pearl onions in colander

Now, for my next recipe from the Ball Blue Book, I bring you a half batch of Onion Pickles from the latest edition. I confess that I employed a cheat with this one. The recipe calls for fresh pearl onions, but I had neither the time to hunt them down nor the desire to spend hours peeling and prepping them.

So instead, I used frozen pearl onions. The produce a finished texture that is somewhat softer than a fresh onion, but not so much that you’d be displeased.

prepared horseradish

One of the reasons that this recipe spoke to me was the inclusion of prepared horseradish in the brine. I very much enjoy the sinus-clearing flavor of horseradish and loved the idea incorporating its zippy heat in a pickle. This is going to be a trick I’ll carry over to future pickles.

jars for pickled onions

These are a sweet pickle and so may not be the cocktail onion that so many of you seek. However, there’s a note in the recipe that mentions that one can omit the sugar and bay leaf in order to turn these into a sour pickle. So with that alteration, home cocktail lovers may well find that these satisfy their mixology needs.

pickled onions tops

I’m including the recipe in its entirety. If you want to make a half batch (okay, so it’s just slightly more than a half batch) with frozen pearl onions, rinse 3 pounds of frozen onions under warm water until defrosted. Skip the salting of the onions, add 2 tablespoons pickling salt to brine and reduce brine ingredients by half.

finished pickled onions tight

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CSA Cooking: Salad Pickles (aka Waste Prevention Pickles)

salad pickles two jars

Like many of the recipes I’ve posted on this site over the years, this pickle is a highly practical one. It’s not really a looker, and it probably won’t be the thing you tuck into gift bags, but it has the ability to use up a lot of produce, and makes edible many of the scraps and bits that might have otherwise ended up in the garbage.

I also appreciate it because all the various vegetables are chopped into similar sizes, so you can spoon it directly into vinaigrettes, or pasta, grain, or potato salad with zero additional work.

scapes and asparagus

Every time I make a batch, it is different. The version you see pictured here included asparagus, garlic scapes, kale stems, and broccoli stems. At other points in the year, I’ve made it with various green/purple/wax/flat beans, chard stems, fennel, minced zucchini, radishes, and the thick stems from beet greens. Essentially, you gather up things of similar densities, chop them into small bits, and pickle the heck out of them.

This is a great one to have in your back pocket when your garden starts producing like crazy, or your CSA share becomes unmanageably abundant. This batch was made with some of the goodies from the Philly Foodworks box I got back in the beginning of June (I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now).

chopped veg for pickles

I call it a salad pickle because I find that it most often gets used in a salad of some kind. In other regions of the country, you might find something similar being called a relish or chow chow (I don’t think anyone would hang the title piccalili on this one, but you never know).

salad pickles close

Typically when I make this pickle, I keep things simple and add just mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves for flavor. This time around I skipped the garlic cloves because so much of the vegetable matter was made up of garlic scapes. It would also be good with dill seed, coriander seed, and black peppercorns. I make mine without any sweetener, but a little sugar or honey in the brine would be just fine.

Do any of you make something similar?

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CSA Cooking: Strawberry Chutney

strawberry chutney total yield

Last week, I mentioned that I’d combined the quart of strawberries from my latest Philly Foodworks with two additional quarts to make a batch of strawberry chutney. This chutney is much like the sweet cherry version I wrote about last summer and it’s a good one to eat with cheese or in grain bowls.

four pounds strawberries

It starts with about four pounds berries. Once chopped, that adds up to about 12 cups, if you prefer volume measurements to weight (though really, a kitchen scale is one of the most useful tools there is).

strawberry chutney ingredients

The strawberries are combined with chopped red onion, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, golden raisins (though you could use dark ones if that’s what you have), mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and a couple star anise blossoms.

cooked strawberry chutney

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you bring it up to a boil and then cook it until the fruit softens and the liquid thickens. I like to start on high and then reduce the heat as the chutney cooks down. You know it’s getting close when you get that tell-tale sizzle as you stir.

strawberry chutney close jars

Once the chutney is finished cooking, fish out those star anise pieces (they add good flavor in small measure, but if you leave them in the jars, they will overwhelm all the other ingredients). Once in the jars, the chutney has a lovely, dusky color.

Oh, and remember. If the flavor of vinegar overwhelms your chutney eating experience, open the jar and let it breathe a little before serving. Half an hour or so should be enough to help the most intense fumes dissipate.

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