Category Archives: preserving food

Pickling Almost Anything

A reader with a boatload of cucumbers asked for some recipes to help preserve the bounty. As it happens, I have an abundance of cucumbers as well, and spent a happy morning turning them into snappy garlic dills. While I was at it, I also pickled several other things, because I love the contrast a piquant pickle provides to a rich or lean meal. Spicy, savory or sweet, pickles can be made with fruit or vegetables and sometimes combine both. Back in the day, our ancestors pickled lemons, onions, and watermelon rind, and enjoyed garden-based concoctions like chow-chow, piccalilli and relishes. Before refrigeration, pickling was an easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables well into winter. Every well-stocked larder boasted rows of pickled beans, pickled peaches, pickled lemons, and even pickled eggs. Whether tart-sweet or savory, pickles graced American tables nearly every day of the year. Continue reading

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Savoring The First Strawberries

Although nothing beats eating sun-warm strawberries straight from the garden, these enticing fruits lend themselves to a wide range of treatments, from sweet to savory. After eating a few day’s worth of naked berries, I’m ready for a few classics. For many years, my family has celebrated the start of local strawberry season by enjoying strawberry shortcake for dinner. There are, of course, many versions to try, but after a fair amount of playful experimentation, I’ve plumped for these light, flaky, slimmed down shortcakes, which gain flavor, fragrance, and a tender crumb from whole wheat pastry flour.

Perfect Strawberry Shortcake

Berries:
6 cups strawberries, hulled & quartered
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

Combine in a bowl and set aside to macerate for at least 15 minutes.

Cream:
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1-2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Whip cream to soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla and whip for 10-15 seconds more. Set aside.

Shortcakes:
2 cups whole wheat (or any) pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR coconut oil
3/4 cup milk (almond if not cow)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add butter and process for 10 seconds or until evenly distributed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in milk, starting with 1/2 cup, adding just enough for the dough to form a ball (not too sticky). Pat into four rounds 1/2 inch high and bake at 450 until golden (12-15 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes, then split in half like a bun, using a fork, and fill with berries and cream. Serves at least one. Continue reading

Posted in Early Crops, Easy Care Perennials, Gardening With Children, Growing Berry Crops, Planting & Transplanting, preserving food, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegan Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoke House Magic

Peppers aren’t the only game in town, however. Jim agreed to smoke some ripe tomatoes for me, as well as eggplants, green beans and kale. Why not? Smoked eggplant makes fabulous baba ganouj, while smoked tomatoes make the simplest pasta sauce marvelous, with exceptional depth of flavor. Green beans…well, hmm. I thought they might make great snacks but not so much. They’re good in soups and chile, though. Smoked kale is similarly disappointing; oven roasted kale chips are far tastier with way better texture. Smoked corn on the cob is delicious, needing only a little sprinkle of garlic salt to make it magical. Smoked carrots and mushrooms are best in stews, soups, or casseroles, where a small piece can add a lively bass note; potato leek soup with smoked mushrooms becomes mysteriously rich and chicken casserole with smoked carrots gains depth and finish. Continue reading

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Preserving Fruits And Vegetables

Of course, there’s always some fruit that isn’t quite ripe or is perhaps a bit sub par in flavor. Among the tastiest things to do with such sad stuff is roast it. Roasting awakens the latent sugars hidden in sour fruit and dull vegetables as well. When big fat cherries taste bland, roast them for 20 minutes and prepare to be amazed. Same with peaches and nectarines, or plums and pears. You can then use the gilded, caramelized results in all sorts of dishes, savory or sweet. For starters, try mashing bits of caramelized fruit into soft goat cheese for a marvelous garnish for roast chicken or grilled fish. You can also freeze these roasted gems and use them all fall and winter. Continue reading

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