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Pickled Asparagus

Asparagus Tops

Oh asparagus! How I avoided pickling you. I kept you waiting in the fridge for over a week, as you anticipated your spicy vinegar bath. And yet, already you’ve given me so much! After just two days of pickling, you are the perfect balance of crisp and pucker. You make the perfect sidecar to just about any meal. I am enamored.

Blanched Asparagus

That’s right kids, the pickled asparagus has turned out to be a riotous success, despite the fact that I used asparagus that was a tiny bit past its prime (life, why much you always throw distractions into my canning schedule?) and forgot to include the peppercorns in the brine.

Pickling brine

I based my recipe on one from a really terrific book about Southern-style canning called Putting Up. It’s by Stephen Palmer Dowdney, who ran a successful canning business in Charleston, SC for many years (although I’m far more impressed by the fact that he was a college classmate of Pat Conroy, who is one of my favorite authors).

If you’re looking to expand your food preservation reference library (I make it sound so official, don’t I), this is definitely a volume to consider. I like how it’s organized by month, as well as the fact that it has really excellent details on the basics of canning.

Packing jars

Before we get into the recipe, I want to take a moment to encourage all of you to consider pickling something. Possibly even this week. The reason? It is so very simple. You can prep just a single jar at a time, which makes it the perfect first canning project.

Honestly, you don’t even need to do the hot water bath if you’re just making a jar or two for yourself, you can just stash your pickles in the fridge. Making pickles will build your canning confidence and get you excited for more ambitious projects. I’m certainly chomping at the bit for my next pickling project (onions and then okra). If I’ve got you sufficiently excited, my favorite refrigerator pickle recipe is right here.

I’m not going to be giving a jar of these pickles away, since this whole pickling thing is new to me, I want to wait and make sure they continue to be good for the weeks to come before I start handing them out, all willy nilly. However, do not despair. I’ve got another giveaway up my sleeve that will be coming soon.

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Note to Self – Remember the Okra

Fried Okra

I’ve been in Austin, TX for the SXSW Interactive conference over the last few days, so I’ve been running hither and yon, attending sessions about things like Misogyny on the Internet and Is Online Privacy Broken. It’s been a fascinating whirlwind, although I’m looking forward to getting back to home and routine tomorrow night.

Last week, I made a batch of Orange-Ginger Marmalade, but I’m finding that I can’t quite muster the mental organization to write about it, especially when my meals have been consisting of things like barbecue ribs at Iron Works and an amazing Tex-Mex dip that consists of queso (melted Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes*) poured over a mound of guacamole.

However, I did want to mention the fried okra I ate last night, at a lovely restaurant on 6th Street called Parkside. Everything I tasted there was absolutely delicious, but the fried okra continues to linger on my palate-brain and it has me convinced that I need to incorporate okra into the canned vegetable rotation in the coming season. I’ve always been one of those who shied away from okra, fearful of it’s mucus-like reputation, but after Parkside’s okra, I am converted. I know that Rick’s Picks makes a pickled okra (and it’s a product with a loyal following), but now I’m going to be on the prowl for a recipe to do it at home. Anyone have any suggestions?

*It is one of my goals to can a batch of homemade tomatoes in the Rotel style (chopped with roasted jalepenos) over the summer/fall canning season. Hold me to it!

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