Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Veggie Redux Pickling Style.... And What to do with Two Pounds of Kohlrabi

Now that summer is finally here, it's definitely harder to find sewing time. Outdoor adventures are calling, and BabyBee wants to explore everything everywhere.  But, not one to be limited in my grandmotherly hobbies, another past time of mine is in full swing. That's right, it's canning time!  So, please excuse the off-topic post while I procrastinate more on my Work in Progress.... but I think this is just too great to skip over.

Seasoned strawberry tester at work
We joined a CSA this past winter, which was something we had been wanting to do for awhile now. The farm is absolutely perfect, and only a fifteen minute drive away.  We pick up our share Saturday morning, stay to pick a few of our own veggies out in the field, and then visit the farm animals. We come home exhausted, but refreshed. And the CSA forces us to eat better, keeps our culinary skills sharp, and provides great fodder for canning.  The "problem" is that every week I have to turn a mountain of veggies into meals. Quickly. And during the work week.
This is just what was up for processing Sunday afternoon, it's not even a quarter of this week's share.
Enter home canning. In just a few hours, I can put up a dozen jars -- relieving the pressure to consume all those veggies quick-quick-before-the-next-pick up-date.  Plus, I just love opening a jar of homemade jam in the middle of winter and reliving these sun-filled moments.

I know that caning can be intimidating, but you don't need a bunch of fancy canning equipment to make a great refrigerator pickle. Besides, a lot of early-spring vegetables aren't candidates for long term storage anyway (peas and radishes get mushy, distinctly not yummy). Almost any crunchy veggie makes good refrigerator pickle fodder, and they will last about a month. Though, good luck hanging on to them that long. I put these in everything - lunches, salads, or snack on them straight out of the jar. Don't overlook the leftover vinegar either, it makes great salad dressing!

Since these are refrigerated, feel free to play with the recipe a bit. Here's mine, adapted from Deb @ SmittenKitchen's recipe for Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw.

Ingredient List:
  • Veggie Fodder - enough to fill two (2) 2.5 pint canning jars or any other large glass jars you have around the house. 
    • Note: Any crunchy veggie will do. Sugar snap peas, carrots, daikons, turnips, and kohlrabi are all tried and true candidates in my household. Though very tasty, be forwarned that radishes and beets will dye your entire batch of pickles *quite* pink.
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • Red pepper flakes to taste (I use two generous pinches which packs some heat, but doesn't scare off the occasional pickle-eating-guest)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1-2 garlic scapes, sliced the length of each scape
  • A few stalks of fresh herbs, bonus beauty points if they are in flower. 
    • Note: Dill is obviously the classic, but I plan to play around here. Fennel, mint (minus the mustard seeds!), and mustard greens all make my heart go pitter-patter.
Pickle Production!
  • Julienne your veggies. I like a chunkier pickle and slice them into 1/4 inch sticks. 
  • Pack your veggies into the two jars. If you're me, you have fun arranging the veggies into different colored layers. Add the sliced garlic scapes and the fresh herbs to your jars now, too.
  • Bring the vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seeds to a boil and simmer for a few minutes (you'll add the cold water later!)
  • Add the cold water to the vinegar mix, and let it cool on the counter
  • Once lukewarm, add the vinegar mixture to your jars making sure that all your veggies are completely submerged
  • Let the pickles come to room temperature before stashing them in the fridge. They will be tasty within a few hours, but better after an overnight soak. They should last about a month in the fridge, but as with all home preserves, should be discarded if you note any strange odors or colors. 
Happy Pickling!

Notice how there is only one jar, instead of two? That's because the first jar didn't even last three days.

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