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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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Pickled Red Beet Eggs

red beet eggs

These are some words I originally wrote for Serious Eats, back in the days of my In a Pickle column. As we approach both Passover and Easter, I thought it might be appropriate to share this tale and recipe here, in the hopes that you might be inspired to take some of your hard boiled eggs and tuck them into a jar of beets and brine, for a batch of classic pickled red beet eggs.

I grew up in a household with hippie tendencies. This showed in a number of ways, from the 12-grain bread my mom used for sandwiches, to the jar of homemade granola that made up the bulk of our cereal selection. However, it was never more obvious than around major holidays.

hard boiled eggs in a jar

At Halloween, we were the house giving out raisins or tiny tubes of toothpaste. Christmas brought candy canes sweetened with maple syrup. And around Easter, our baskets were filled with carob, fruit juice sweetened jelly beans and naturally dyed eggs.

Instead of pulling out the dyes that the other kids used, my mother would gather onion skins, carrot peelings, spinach leaves and beets for our egg coloring sessions. I found these methods deeply frustrating because they never provided the same depth of color that the commercial egg coloring kits could.

pickled beets

I blame the fact that I was very late to red beet eggs on my frustration with those natural dyes. You see, these pickled eggs get their color through the addition of beets to the pickling liquid. And I just didn’t want to have anything to do with adding beets to eggs.

But then, I had the opportunity to taste one a few years back and I changed my tune. Pickled red beet eggs have nothing in common with the still-in-their-shell hard-boiled eggs I once tried to dye with beet juice.

beets and eggs in a jar

The finished eggs are bright in both color and flavor. Pickling firms the whites of the hard boiled egg, transforming them into something springy and substantial. The finished eggs are good eaten on their own, or chopped into a vibrantly colored salad and make a terrific addition to any springtime table.

A few tips for you before you get started

To avoid peeling frustration, use the oldest eggs in you fridge for hard boiling. Super fresh eggs are incredibly hard to peel, while the ones that have been around for a week or more will give up their shells more easily.

pouring brine

I used home-canned pickled beets for this recipe. However, don’t feel like you have to make the pickled beets first. Commercially pickled beets do just as good a job here.

Make sure to let the eggs rest in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours before eating the first one. They do keep well for up to a month, so don’t feel like you have to bolt them down once they’re ready.

pickled eggs

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Tiny White Turnips, Fermented

baby white turnips

The Saturday before last, I didn’t manage to get over to the farmers market until 20 minutes before closing. By that point, the pickings were very slim. I had been hoping for some kale, or a head of frost-sweetened cabbage, but the only produce on offer was a few crates of apples, fresh mushrooms hauled in from Kennett Square (the self-proclaimed mushroom capital of the world), and a single pint of tiny, white turnips without their greens.

I had stocked up on apples the previous week and still had plenty left. While I love mushrooms, Scott is entirely turned off by their texture, and so I buy them rarely. But the turnips, they gave me plenty of ideas and so I traded a couple crinkled singles for that lonely pint. I’d forgotten to bring any small produce bags, and so the vendor decanted them into the only bag she had, an enormous plastic shopper, best suited for carrying two pillows or a down comforter.

In the past, I have happily made quick vinegar pickles from little turnips such as these (in fact, there a recipe for exactly that in Preserving by the Pint). However, I’ve been feeling increasingly excited about fermented lately (and by lately, I mean the last six or so months), and so wanted to treat these little guys to a salt brine process.

fermenting white turnips

I spent a meditative 15 minutes at the sink, rinsing off the dirt and trimming away the skinny roots and the remains of the leaves. It was quick, satisfying work and reminded me of why I like little batches so much. You can work slowly and carefully, and still have the bottom of the colander appear in no time flat. If I’d bought any more turnips, I might have started to resent them before I came to the end of the prep. And nothing spoils my enjoyment of a preserve faster than resentment.

The washed, trimmed, and quartered turnips went into a squeaky clean pint and a half jar. I covered them with salt brine (made earlier in the day by dissolving 1 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt in two cups of boiling water and then letting it cool to room temperature). Then I sat a quarter pint jar in on top of the veg and filled it up with brine, so that it could serve as a weight and keep the turnips fully submerged.

I’ll confess right now that these pickles aren’t quite done yet. The turnips spent a few days in the fridge between the time I brought them home and the moment I was able to get them into the brine. But I know that in another day or two, they will be crunchy, tangy, and perfect eaten on avocado toast, or alongside roasted root vegetables (it’s always nice to have a crisp, punchy counterpoint to sweet, soft, warm foods).

What are you bringing home from the farmers market these days?

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