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Sweet Cherry Chutney

sweet cherries

I spent last Friday evening at the Whole Foods Market in Devon, PA, teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make and preserve a small batch of sweet cherry chutney.

Because it takes a bit longer than jam to cook down, I don’t often choose chutney for my classes and demos. But it happened to fit nicely for this particular class, and I’m so glad it did because it reminded me of just how good this particular preserve is.

chopped sweet cherries

I went home on Friday night with a stash of cherries from the sale and spent a chunk of time over the weekend pitting the cherries and slicing them into quarters (because I’m insane like that). I ended up making a larger, slightly tweaked version from the one we made in class, but it was no less delicious.

finished chutney

Once you get through the pitting of the cherries, this chutney couldn’t be simpler. It’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients into the pot, bringing them to a boil, and then cooking until the ingredients marry and the liquid evaporates. There’s no need to monitor the temperature or check for set. It’s done when it doesn’t look watery anymore.

Another nice things about making a preserve like this is that you can break up the cooking time. While my batch was simmering, Scott and I decided that we wanted to go for a walk. I just turned off the stove and slid the pot to a cool burner. When we got back, I brought the chutney back to a low bubble and finished it off.

Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t have the mental fortitude to pit and chop 4 pounds of cherries, try making this chutney with plums. It works just as well and isn’t as tedious.

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Homemade Kimchi

half gallon of kimchi - Food in Jars

I’ve been talking a lot about fancy salts and how to use them in preserving this week. On Tuesday, I shared a recipe for a quick, spicy cucumber pickle (which I’ve been eating non-stop on salads for the last couple days. It’s intensely garlicky and I love it). Today, we’re using some of that gorgeous salt in a batch of kimchi.

shredded kimchi veg - Food in Jars

I came relatively late to the world of kimchi. I’d eat it when at a Korean restaurant, but it wasn’t really something I started seeking out until a couple years ago. At first, I satisfied my kimchi craving by buying packets of the stuff from the Trader Joe’s refrigerator case, but soon found myself going through two or three a week. It was time to start making it myself.

salt and crushed peppers - Food in Jars

I will be the first to say that my technique isn’t the most authentic on the planet. I don’t use rice flour (because I’m lazy and don’t want to add another thing to my pantry) and I pretty much toss whatever vegetables in that I have (there are red radishes in this batch because I had some and wanted to use them up).

I also pack my shredded and seasoned veg into a half gallon jar and let it do its fermenty thing, without airlocks or any kind of weight. I just press it down with a clean hand once a day and keep an eye out for any sort of surface funk.

spiced kimchi veg - Food in Jars

This batch is a combination of shredded napa cabbage, grated carrot and daikon radish, shaved red radish bits, the tops of spring onions, ginger, garlic, grey sea salt, and gochugaru (that’s the Korean red chili powder and this is the only special ingredient I keep around specifically for kimchi making. It’s just not the same without it). Essentially, I combine all the ingredients, knead them together with with clean hands, pack the whole mess into a jar, and let it sit for a while.

tossed kimchi veg - Food in Jars

For those of you who aren’t regular kimchi eaters, let’s talk about to use this spicy, tangy fermented pickle. I scoop a couple forkfuls onto nearly every salad I make. It’s good stirred into soups (carrot or lentil are particularly good vehicles). And it’s miraculous gently warmed and eaten with scrambled eggs (Alana taught me that trick).

How do you eat your kimchi?

PS – For a more authentic recipe, along with everything you want to know about the world of fermenting, I highly suggest you visit my friend Amanda’s blog, Phickle. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and her site is a fantastic resource.

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Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers

salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

In yesterday’s post about fancy salts, I mentioned that I would be sharing a couple of tasty ways to use these more esoteric salts in batches of pickles. This first recipe is one that uses a generous teaspoon of fleur de sel (though you can also use kosher salt if that’s what you’ve got) to pull some liquid out of the cucumbers and firm up their texture a little.

brine and salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

This pickle is loosely based on the recipe for smacked cucumber in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Every Grain of Rice. I made it for the first time last year and it rapidly became one of my favorite things to eat (so crunchy! so spicy!). However, it’s the sort of thing that should be made and eaten within the same hour and so I tried to make a version that would keep its texture a little bit longer.

brined cucumbers - Food in Jars

You start by peeling, seeding, and slicing the two cucumbers. Heap the pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with one teaspoon of fleur de sel. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cucumbers and then let them sit for about half an hour. When the time is up, there should be a goodly accumulation of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Drain that out, toss the cucumbers again and try draining them once more. I tend to do this three or four times, until the cucumbers aren’t releasing anymore water.

quick pickled cucumbers - Food in Jars

While the cucumbers sit with the salt, mix up the pickling liquid (all the exact amounts can be found in the organized recipe below). It’s a slurry of grated garlic, grated ginger, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and coarse ground red chili powder (I use the kind meant for making kimchi). Finally, combine the cucumbers and the dressing and stir to combine.

You can eat this pickle immediately (truly, it’s one of the quickest), or you can funnel it into a jar and eat it by the forkful over the next day or two. It’s fiery from the chili powder and garlic, and I find it endlessly delicious.

Don’t forget to enter this week’s giveaway from The Meadow!
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win!

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Sponsored Post: Complete Knife Skills with Craftsy

pickled carrot set-up

Friends! Welcome to my first-ever sponsored post. I’ve teamed up with Craftsy for a year-long series. See more about our partnership at the end of the post! Enjoy!

I am a self-taught home cook. I’ve never been to culinary school and I haven’t taken a cooking class since I was seven years old and my mom enrolled me in a “Kids in the Kitchen” series at our local community center. When I was young, I learned by watching my mom, my grandma Bunny, and my great-aunt Doris.

trimming and slicing carrots

During college, I picked up a few tricks from my roommates and discovered a lot through trial and error. And when I was in my early twenties, the Food Network was my guide (people may knock Rachael Ray, but I learned a lot from her in 2002).

I’ve done pretty darn well in this vein, but there’s always been one area where I knew I could do better. Knife skills. For years, I meant to take a class on the subject, but first the budget was too tight and then in later years, I couldn’t find the time.

red pepper

So, when Craftsy asked me to try out their free Complete Knife Skills course, I was a very willing pupil. Taught by Chef Brendan McDermott, the course consists of four components and takes just over an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Chef McDermott starts out with an introduction to the necessary knives, moves into the four basic cuts, offers an array of tricks and short cuts, and finally gives you the details necessary to maintain your knives.

all ingredients prepped

You’ll also learn fun tidbits, like how to sharpen a knife using the bottom of a ceramic mug, how to quickly open a bottle of beer with a chef knife (!), and even how to split a handful of grape tomatoes with a single knife stroke.

I was particularly impressed by how easy he made it look to cut a carrot into gorgeous julienned strips. I’ve long struggled to create uniform matchsticks and so always opt to use a mandoline slicer when prepping a cut like that. However, inspired by his example, I decided to make thin-cut carrots and red peppers for a refrigerator pickle, sliced up with nothing more than my mighty chef knife.

zest confetti

Here’s how to do it. First, prepare the brine. Mix one cup apple cider vinegar with one cup fresh water, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Heat until the salt and sugar dissolves.

Grab two hefty carrots that weigh about a pound in combination. Trim the ends and cut the carrots in equal lengths. Trim away the sides of the carrots so that you end up with a neat orange rectangle. Carefully cut the carrots into slim planks. Stack two or three of the planks and cut them into matchsticks.

building pickles

Set the carrots aside and prep one red pepper by slicing off the ends. Cut the pepper into two equal halves and trim away the interior pith and seeds (Chef McDermott demonstrations this beautifully in Short Cuts component). Thinly slice the red pepper so that they roughly match the size and shape of the carrots.

Take a small lime and trim off both ends. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice away three or four strips of zest. Switch back to a chef knife and mince those strips into confetti.

cilantro

Using a clean, wide mouth quart jar, begin to build your pickles. Place 1/2 teaspoon each black peppercorn and crushed red chili flakes in the bottom of the jar. Add two garlic cloves (crushed or sliced, depending on your preference) and the lime zest confetti. Add a layer of fresh cilantro leaves and stems (about half a cup packed).

Then, gather up a handful of your carrot and red pepper matchsticks and place them in the jar. I like seeing them upright, but you can pack them in any way you’d like.

pouring brine

Once all the carrots and peppers are in the jar, carefully pour the warm brine over the vegetables. It should be enough liquid to fully cover the veg, but since this is a refrigerator pickle, it will be okay if there’s a bit uncovered. The carrots and peppers will act like straws and sip up the brine even if they’re not entirely covered.

Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before eating.

finished pickles

Note: For a spicier pickle, consider adding some fresh jalapeño pepper rings. I actually intended to do this, but managed to leave my jalapeño at the grocery store (truly, I know I put one in my basket, but it just didn’t make it home with me).

Sign up for Craftsy’s free Complete Knife Skills class to learn how to make these great cuts for your own batch of refrigerator pickles.

Sponsored content like this is virgin territory for me. I’ve not done anything like this up until now because I’ve never felt like the opportunities presented were the right fit. However, I’m working with Craftsy because I feel like their mission aligns with the things I try to do here. Over the next year, I’m going to be working with Craftsy on a series of sponsored content pieces and I’m excited to see where this partnership goes. I hope you enjoy the ride along with me!

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Apple Horseradish Conserve

apple horseradish conserve jar

It was at least two years ago that I started imagining an apple jam with a bit of sinus-clearing horseradish for punch. I made note of it on my running list of recipe ideas and promptly moved on to other things. Each time I returned to that list for inspiration or to add a new idea, I’d spot it and promise myself that I’d try it soon. But it just didn’t happen.

apple sauce for conserve

Finally, back in December I got myself a knob of fresh horseradish and set out to see what an apple horseradish jam might taste like. Of course, as these things so often work out, I didn’t actually end up making jam. Instead, I made a conserve (anytime you add dried fruit or nuts to jam, it becomes a conserve).

You see, there was a bag of golden raisins on the counter as I was cooking, and I ended up adding a couple palmfuls for sweetness and texture. After a few tastes, I determined that it needed some vinegar for balance, a scattering of mustard seeds to compliment the horseradish, and just a little bit of cayenne fire.

grated horseradish overhead

The resulting preserve lands somewhere in between a jam and a chutney. You get the apple and raisin flavors in the beginning, but the bite will always finish with the horseradish and heat asserting themselves. I’m not sure that I’ve given up on the idea of a straight apple horseradish jam (or jelly!), but I’m really pleased with how this conserve turned out. It’s particularly good with cheese or eaten alongside bites of crisp roast potato.

apple horseradish conserve  close

A word about safety and acid levels. Horseradish is a lower acid food. Apples are quite high in acid. This preserve is made almost entirely of apples, with vinegar and lemon juice adding to the acid load. As it’s written, it is quite safe. However, please resist the temptation to increase the amount of horseradish, as that could lead to an unsafe preserve.

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Apple Date Chutney

apples, shallots, and dates

For the last couple of months, I’ve been ruminating on the idea of a chutney sweetened strictly with dried fruit. Though most chutneys typically have a goodly amount of raisins, currants, and dried apricots in them, they also rely on either brown sugar or honey to balance out the tang of the vinegar.

chutney prep

I wanted to see if I could make something delicious using just dried fruit as balance, without even a drop of honey or sugar. And so I called on dates. They pack a mighty wallop of sweetness and I had a hunch that they’d fit in nicely alongside shallots, apple cider vinegar, and star anise in a small batch of chutney.

finished chutney

Well, it worked, and on the first try, no less. This is a chutney that is gently sweet and mildly puckery. You get some of the date flavor in each bite, and that sweetness is backed up by the tiny, tender currants. The apples also do their part, though they carry more of the vinegar flavor than their natural sweetness.

apple date chutney

I used a little last night to perk up leftover chicken. When my sister gets here on Friday, we’re opening a jar to eat with crumbly cheddar cheese. And I have plans to swirl a little into plain yogurt to eat with my next batch of this curried chicken.

Note 1: I did use a little bit of crystallized ginger in this chutney, which does have a marginal amount of granulated sugar on the outside. But I see it as incidental in the grand scheme of things. If you prefer, you could use freshly grated ginger in its place.

Note 2: Remember that chutney is like wine in that it needs a little breathing time before it’s ready to serve. Open your jar at least half an hour before you serve it so that the intensity of the vinegar can mellow.

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