Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto

carrot tops

I go to at least one farmers market a week during the growing season. My primary reason for going is to buy delicious produce from kind people, but I’m also always on the lookout for something extra and interesting. I don’t to just want to come home with things to cook for dinner (though that is a necessary element). My eyes are also scanning the stands, looking for something that will either activate my culinary imagination or give me the opportunity to make a recipe that I have mentally bookmarked.

carrot tops in fp

When I spotted these carrots, they triggered memories of two recipes I’d long wanted to try. First, they brought to mind this recipe that Alana posted on Eating From the Ground Up last fall. I’d been meaning to try that pesto ever since I’d first read her tale of those special Woven Roots Farm carrots, but hadn’t come across really great looking greens. And those sweet little carrots? They were destined to become Amanda’s fermented gingery pickles.

toasted pistachios

This bundle of carrots was the last one in a bin marked $3. That might seem like a lot for a small cluster of carrots, but knowing the plans I had for the greens, it ended up feeling like a bargain. The vendor did ask if I wanted the greens removed, but the horror on my face stopped her before my words even reached her ears.

finished carrot top pesto full

I will confess that I paused a bit before deciding to write about this batch of pesto. I published a similar recipe using stinging nettles not too long ago and I didn’t want you all to feel like this blog was becoming all pesto, all the time. But truly, I am a lover of these bright, nutty, herbaceous pastes and make them all summer, with the goal of having about a dozen little green jars in the freezer before the first frost comes.

finished carrot top pesto

I find that having a small stash of homemade pestos in my freezer is one of the easiest ways to avoid ordering takeout. I don’t just use them for dressing pasta, either. A solo dinner of sauteed kale, a scoop of a warm grain like millet, and a generous dollop of pesto and I’m a happy girl. They’re good on top of simple soups. And a batch thinned out with a little vinegar, water and a touch more olive oil and you have a very delicious vinaigrette.

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CSA Cooking: The June Share

Philly Foodworks June share

I got my second Philly Foodworks share late last week (for an introduction to this partner ship, read this post). It included a quart of strawberries, a 4 ounce bag of mixed baby lettuces, a bundle of red radishes, a 12 ounce bunch of asparagus, 1 bunch of kale, a head of lettuce, a little bag of spinach leaves, and a cluster of white hakurei turnips.

csa strawberries

Whenever I get a CSA share, one of the first things I do a triage the contents of the box. I make note of the things that aren’t going to last as long (this time, the lettuce mix and strawberries were at the top of the to-use list) and tuck the items that will keep better towards the bottom of the crisper drawer.

tender lettuce mix

I combined the strawberries from this share with two additional quarts in order to have enough for a batch of strawberry chutney (that recipe is coming up later this week). This was the first time I’d made chutney from strawberries and I’m not quite sure why I waited so long to do it. It’s a lovely thing, particularly when eaten with tangy yogurt cheese.

salad dressing in the bowl

I tackled that little bag of mixed lettuces on Sunday night. We ordered takeout sushi for dinner and needed a vegetable to round out the meal. A very simple salad was in order. Instead of turning to bottled dressing (which I do more than I’d like to admit), I did what my grandma Bunny would have done when confronted with truly beautiful lettuce.

tossed greans

I grated a little bit of raw garlic into the bottom of my small wooden salad bowl and added a half teaspoon dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, and a couple twists of black pepper. Using a little whisk, I worked in a tablespoon of champagne vinegar (apple cider, rice wine, or even balsamic would have also been good), and added some extra virgin olive oil (I can’t imagine I used more than 2 tablespoons). Once the oil was integrated, I gave it a little taste. It was very sharp, so I added a little honey for balance.

salad and sushi

When the dressing was done, I added the washed and dried greens, turning them gently in the dressing with my hands until they were just coated. We ate it out of the bowl with our chopsticks and breathed fire-y garlic breath at each other for the rest of the night. For a less pungent option, you could grate in a little shallot or ginger.

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Giveaway: Mrs. Wages Perfect Pickle Sampler

Perfect Pickle Sampler 640

This week’s giveaway comes to us from long-time Food in Jars sponsor Mrs. Wages. I’ve been doing a bit of work with the folks from Mrs. Wages for the last five years and one element of our annual partnership is that they always offer up one or two awesome baskets of their mixes, spices, and starters for me to give away to my equally awesome readers. Happily, this summer is no exception!

This is the first of two baskets of goodies I’ll be giving away from Mrs. Wages this summer. This Perfect Pickle Sampler basket contains every single pickle product that Mrs. Wages makes, which should make the pickle lovers out there very, very happy. Here’s exactly what’s in the prize.

        • Pickling Lime
        • Pickling and Canning Salt
        • Kosher Dill Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Zesty Bread & Butter Pickle Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Polish Dill Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Sweet Pickle Relish Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Bread & Butter Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Sweet Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Spicy Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Dill Pickles Quick Process Pickle Mix
        • Kosher Dill Pickles Refrigerator Pickle Mix
        • Filled Green Beans Refrigerator or Canning Mix
        • Sweet Pickles Refrigerator Pickle Mix
        • Polish Dill Pickles Refrigerator Pickle Mix
        • Spicy Pickles Refrigerator Pickle Mix
        • Pickled Beets Refrigerator or Canning Mix
        • Pickled Vegetables Refrigerator or Canning Mix
        • The Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide and Recipes

If this massive collection of pickle spices and starts appeals to you, here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your current favorite pickle. Whether it’s one you make, one your mom always has in her fridge, or just your favorite local brand, I want to hear about it.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 15, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Mrs. Wages is providing the basket for the giveaway. They are also a Food in Jars sponsor and so do help contribute to the running of this site.

Upcoming Classes: Mullica Hill and Chestnut Hill

class image revised

Hello friends! I have both a free demo and a class on offer this week in the Philly region and I hope to see some of you there!

The first is tonight, Monday, June 8. I’ll be doing a small batch strawberry jam canning demo at the Gloucester County Library’s Mullica Hill Branch starting at 7 pm. Because of the library rules, I won’t have any books to sell, but if you bring your own copy I would be delighted to sign it! This event is free.

Then, on Wednesday, June 10, I’m teaching my second class in my Weaver’s Way series. In this session, we’ll pickle cucumbers two different ways. I’ll show you how to make both preserved vinegar pickles and slower fermented ones in the kitchen at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House. 7-9 pm. Click here to register.

As always, my complete teaching and demo schedule can be found over on my Classes and Events page. I’m also planning on adding a few more online classes to the calendar soon, so check back!

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Links: Strawberries, Cauliflower Hummus, and a Winner

If you happened to see a woman carrying a flat of strawberries through Center City earlier today, chances are it was me. These beauties were from the fair food farmstand. #strawberries #localproduce

This last week was blissfully mellow. I played tourist with a dear friend who was visiting, managed to get to the bottom of my overflowing inbox, and took care of some necessary household tasks like laundry and car maintenance. I also finished a book for the first time in a couple weeks. It was good. Now, links!

Drift Away Coffee

The winner of the Driftaway Coffee giveaway is #47/Kari K. Thank you all for taking the time to enter!

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Low Sugar Strawberry Vanilla Jam

cluster of strawberry vanilla jam

Last Friday, I stopped in to Reading Terminal Market to see Annelies and pick up a few things. While there, I wandered by the Fair Food Farmstand and commented on the gorgeous, fragrant strawberries. In response, the operations manager Anne, offered to sell me a flat of seconds*. Cheap.

berry seconds

I am unable to resist fruit bargains and so ended up walking the eight blocks home hugging a flat of berries. I found that people responded to the berries in much the same way they do when I’ve found myself carrying a new baby through a grocery store. They smile at your parcel and murmur under their breath, “Baby! (Berries!).”

hulled strawberries

I made it home, berries intact, and set my load down near the air conditioner to cool (there was no space in the fridge). There they sat until later that evening. When I finally started disassembling the flat, I discovered that these were true seconds and needed careful culling.

discarded strawberry bits

I put on a podcast and sidled up to the sink. I hulled and sliced, ruthlessly eliminating all the bits that moldy, slimy, or had started to smelly boozy. In the end, I had enough berries for some slow cooker strawberry butter (a batch of this, sweetened with cane sugar instead of maple) and a batch of low sugar strawberry vanilla jam.

strawberry puree in slow cooker

I pureed the berries for the butter and set them up on low in my ancient four quart cooker to reduce overnight. I put the rest of the berries into a large bowl and pummeled them with a potato masher until I had about nine cups of pulp. That went into a eight quart pot with 2 cups of cane sugar and 2 split and scraped vanilla beans.

cooking strawberry jam

Now, had my refrigerator not been packed to the gills, I would have put the sugared berry mash in there and kept it cold overnight. However, there was no space in the inn, so I cheated a little. I brought it to a rolling boil for a couple minutes and then turned off the heat. I covered the pot, shoved it to the back burner, and left it there overnight.

steamy strawberry jam

Food safety experts might ding me for this practice, but the quick boil kills off the worst of the bacteria and the sugar acts as a preservative (plus, it was a relatively cool night. I don’t do this during the true heat of summer).

It was entirely fine when came back to it the next morning, and so I pulled the pot back to my most powerful burner, added 1 tablespoon of calcium water and the juice of 2 small lemons, and brought it back to a boil.

strawberry jam overhead

I boiled the fruit for 25 minutes (or so), until it had reduced by about half, was thickening up a little, and the worst of the foaming had subsided. I stirred 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1/2 cup cane sugar and whisked it into the jam in a thin, steady stream so that the pectin didn’t clump.

pint of strawberry vanilla jam

Two more minutes of rapid boiling and it was done. The batch made 4 1/2 pints and I processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. The finished is sweet, but the primary flavor is strawberry. It’s a very good one for stirring into plain yogurt because it doesn’t overpower the pleasing tartness of the yogurt.

empty berry boxes

And remember, you can always treat this recipe as a template. You can add different flavors (strawberries with a little cinnamon and nutmeg is always nice). You can also slice the batch in half if 4 1/2 pints of a single flavor is more than you want in your pantry.

*If you’re in Philly and want in on cheap flats of berries, Anne has yet more. Leave a comment on this post and I’ll connect you.

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