Links: Pickles, Concord Grapes, and a Cypress Grove Winner

I've done 20 quarts of tomato purée in the last three days. #foodinjars

I made dinner five nights out of seven last week. I cannot even begin to imagine how long it has been since I managed to do that and it felt ridiculously wonderful. Being on the road with the book over the last six months has been a joy, but it’s so good to be home a little bit more. I do so love having a solid, well-established routine! Now, links.

Cypress Grove cheeses

The winner of last week’s Cypress Grove giveaway is #69/Kat. She said, “My husband makes a wonderful red pepper jelly, which we eat with Jarlsburg all the time!” Sounds like a delicious combination!

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Other People’s Preserves: Caulikraut

caulikraut jar

Other People’s Preserve is my opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the very delicious jams, pickles, and preserves being made by dedicated professional canners. If you spot one of these products in the wild, make sure to scoop up a jar.

This week’s featured preserve is Caulikraut. Made by hand in the Messy Brine kitchen, this tangy and slightly sweet condiment is a cross between a traditional vinegar pickle and a relish. It is bright and would go equally well in an elegant salad or on top of a hot dog. As a dedicated fan of pickled cauliflower, I’m delighted to have this one in my current rotation.

inside caulikraut

Caulikraut comes in two speeds, regular and spicy. I only tasted the basic version, but I can imagine how nicely a bit of heat would play with the sweet, tart brine.

Now. Just a word of warning. For you fermentation fans, do not be misled by the inclusion of the word “kraut” in the title. This is a vinegar-based pickle, not a lacto-fermented one.

Disclosure: The nice folks at Messy Brine sent me this jar to try. However, I only feature the truly delicious and worthy things in this column, so you can trust that the opinions expressed here are heartfelt and entirely mine. 

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Preserves in Action: Peanut Butter and Spicy Apricot Jam

pb and j

I spend a goodly amount of my time dreaming up novel ways to use homemade jams, jellies, and fruit butters as a way of helping both new and seasoned canners use up their stash. I embrace this charge and enjoy the ways in which it makes explore and experiment.

However, for all the fresh applications I develop, I also believe firmly that there’s often no higher calling for these homemade fruit preserves than a slice of well-buttered toast or a peanut butter sandwich on soft whole wheat. There is a reason that these are classic combinations and that’s because they’re downright delicious.

spicy apricot pbj

One of the pleasures of making your own fruit spreads is that your able to create interesting flavor combinations that are simply unavailable at grocery stores or from small batch producers. Then you can use these ever-so-slightly wacky jams in traditional ways for all sorts of deliciousness.

I recently needed a quick lunch and so made myself a quick peanut butter and jam sandwich. The first jar of jam I could find was a batch of apricot that was gently spiked with a little red chili flake. Instead of searching for something else, I figured that it couldn’t be that spicy and went with it.

The jam did pack a fairly might punch of heat, but was absolutely delicious paired with the sturdy, savory peanut butter. It was an unexpected use of a sweet/savory jam that I’ll be repeating again.

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Cashew Curry Savory Granola from OATrageous Oatmeals

Oatrageous Oatmeals

Oats are one of my staple foods. I eat them throughout the spring and summer in the form of granola or simple muesli and the once the days get chilly, I make daily bowls of warm, creamy oatmeal (topped with generous dollops of jam or fruit butter).

I often grind rolled oats into flour in my Vitamix to use in baked goods, and I regularly use them to add bulk and fiber to turkey meatloaf (it’s a trick I learned from my mom). Oats! They can do so much!

When Kathy Hester told me that her next book (she’s also the author of The Vegan Slow Cooker, Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You, and The Great Vegan Bean Book) was going to be all about oatmeal, I got kind of excited. So excited, in fact, that she invited me to be part of the blog tour for OATrageous Oatmeals. And so here we are.

curry cashew savory granola

I’ve spent a couple weeks with this book now, earmarking recipes to try and mentally depleting my stash of oats. In the very near future, I’m planning to make the Southern-Style Oat Biscuits (page 28), the Baked Meyer Lemon Steel-Cut Oatmeal (page 43), the Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats (page 69), the Pepita Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars (page 96), and the Slow Cooker Black Bean Oat Groat Soup (page 104). Of course, there are more recipes that speak to me, but those are the ones that are currently topping my hopeful hit parade.

However, I’m not coming to you entirely empty-handed. I have tried the Cashew Curry Savory Granola on page 90 already and it is so good. Crunchy, salty, and slightly spicy, I made a batch yesterday and have been nibbling ever since.

savory cashew granola

I picked that recipe as the first one to try because I’ve long been a fan of savory granolas. They are an easy way to add a healthy layer of flavor, texture, and protein to homemade soups and salads. They keep well. And they are one of those things that give you a whole heck of a lot of bang for your buck.

I came up with a recipe for a savory granola a couple of years back when I was still writing for Grid Philly (the roasted tomato vinaigrette in that piece is also delicious) that I’ve returned to many times when I’ve needed a little crunchy, hearty snack, but I think it has now been supplanted.

jar of savory cashew granola

There is just one thing I’ll change next time I make this granola and that is that stir the raisins into the granola after it is finished baking. I find that they got just a little bit too cooked and ended up sort of acrid and a little too chewy for me. But it’s a minor quibble and one that’s easy enough to fix next time around.

Do you have a favorite savory granola?

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Pickled Italian Plums

vertical pickled plums

These pickled plums may be my favorite new preserve of this summer. They are a bit sweet, slightly spiced, and super tangy. Much like other pickled fruit, they are something of a two for one product, because once the fruit is gone, you can pour the flavorful syrup into sparkling water or use it to flavor batches of homemade vinaigrette.

italian plums

Like all pickled fruit, this recipe works best if you start with fruit that is just slightly underripe. You want to choose fruit that has plenty of flavor and a bit of give, but still has enough robustness to retain the integrity of the slices once they’ve simmered for a bit.

slivered plums

I kept the spices relatively restrained in this pickle, bundling up just star anise, whole cloves, black peppercorns, and a little crushed red chili flake for heat. Because spices are always the place where can personalize a preserve, if you make this one on your own, feel free to take that cheese cloth packet in any direction you’d like.

A short length of cinnamon stick would have fit in nicely and a few gently crushed cardamom pods would also play nicely.

plum spices

If the plums are already gone in your area, don’t think that your opportunities for pickled fruit are over. You could try this with tender slices of pears or hunks of soft fleshed apple (a golden delicious would be a nice choice).

finished jars of pickled plums

Looking for more pickled fruit? I’ve got so many other seasonal options for you! Naturally sweetened apple date chutney. Honey sweetened peach chutney (make it while the peaches last!). Pickled asian pears (this recipe is from Karen Solomon’s gorgeous book Asian Pickles). Persimmon and pear chutney (persimmons will be here soon). Pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger. Pickled cranberries (the. best.).

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Peach Mostarda

vertical peach mostarda

In my area, peach season is down to its final days for this year. I spotted a few left at the farmers market this morning and actually passed them by, but only because I am insane and picked up another half bushel over the weekend. I need to make a batch of salsa, and have several recipes for the new book to test, thus the purchase.

bowl of peaches

A couple weeks ago, just before I headed up to Toronto, I spent a full day canning. I had a ton of peaches and tomatoes, and knew that they wouldn’t last my weekend away. I made sauce, I canned whole peeled tomatoes, I made grape jam, and came up with this preserve.

Peach mostarda. Delicious with cheese. Recipe coming soon to a blog near you.

Mostardas are much like chutneys, in that they are both sweet and savory. However, instead of getting their savory nature from onions, garlic, or shallots, the sweetness is broken up with a conservative application of mustard oil and other sharp spices.

le parfait peach mostarda

Now, you should consider this a cheater’s mostarda. Because of US regulations, it is impossible to get the super-strong mustard oil with which true mostardas are made. However, the combination of mustard seeds and cayenne give this preserve a satisfying level of sinus clearing mustardiness.

I made this mostarda with Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog in mind, but it will also pair deliciously with crumbly aged cheddars and creamy, spreadable goat cheeses.

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