Tuesday, November 11, 2008
GARDEN PARTY - PICKLES
Considering this past summer's garden, leads to a few distinct thoughts. Number one, we have no problem growing Anaheim chiles and shishito peppers. Peppers in general, are not a problem for us. Number two, we weren't as successful with tomatoes as we would have liked to be. We definitely grew enough to keep us in tomatoes, but we didn't succeed in my plan to have enough to preserve for the winter months. We had about eight plants and about four of them were either not very productive or were never pollinated. These are things to think about over the winter months. It was mostly the heirloom varieties that were the troublemakers. Our San Marzano plants were amazingly delicious and very generous. Our Green Zebras were also good growers, as were our tomatillos.
Another issue was our Cucumbers. Our pickling cucumbers started off vigorously and then died, but our Japanese cucumbers were wonderful and we couldn't keep up with them. They produced too much too fast, but that was for about one month. Then, something killed them as well. Who knows what pestilence attacked them, but that will be added to my list for the winter to consider how to combat. Regardless, it was still a very fruitful garden. So, what did we do with the shishito peppers, Japanese cucumbers, Anaheim chiles and tomatoes? First up...
PART ONE: THE PICKLES.
REFRIGERATOR DILL PICKLES
4 Japanese cucumbers - sliced crosswise into 1/2" circles
1 small handful of shishito peppers or peppers of your choice
2 cups water
1 tsp celery seed
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp dill weed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
2 cups distilled vinegar
2 tbsp agave syrup
8 cloves garlic - sliced
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
Salt the cucumbers with an additional tablespoon of salt. Mix in a colander and let drain for about an hour. Rinse, drain again and put into an appropriate sized jar. They should almost fill it up. A large mason jar or large-mouthed glass jar with tight-sealing lid will be perfect.
Crush the seeds and spices in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Mix all other ingredients with the spices in a big bowl (except the cukes). Mix until all the salt dissolves. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers in the jar. Cap the jar and refrigerate for at least a week before eating.
QUICK PICKLED PEPPERS
adapted from Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times. July 23, 2008
3/4 lbs shishito peppers
5 serrano chiles sliced in half lengthwise
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
2 tsps kosher salt
1 tbsp agave syrup
2 tsps dried oregano
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 small white onion - sliced thinly
3 whole chiles de arbol or other small dried red chile
Cut a few thin lengthwise slit into each pepper.
Simmer the vinegar with 2 cups of water, garlic, salt, agave syrup, spices, onion and dried chile for about 4 minutes.
Blanch the peppers (shishitos and serranos) in a large pot of boiling water until they soften and their color just begins to fade (about 2-3 minutes). Drain the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel. Do not rinse them.
Place the warm peppers in a large glass jar with lid and pour the warm liquid mixture over them. Seal the jar and rotate to mix the solution and spices around in the jar. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
PICKLED HABANERO CHILES
Fresh unblemished habanero chiles - enough to fill your desired jar
Poke a few small slits with a knife into the top of each chile. Soak the chiles in overnight in a brine of 3 cups of water and 1 cup kosher salt. This will crisp the chiles before you pickle them. Rinse them well.
3 cups distilled white vinegar (I use Heinz)
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until salt is dissolved. Take off the heat.
Place the chiles in a sterilized glass jar (clean, rinse, dry and then pour boiling water into and over the jar and lid). Pack the chiles tightly and leave about 1/4 inch of head space. Pour the vinegar solution over the chiles. Remove air bubbles by tapping on the sides of the jar. You want the chiles to be submerged completely. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks before serving.
NOTE: All of the above recipes were intended to be quick refrigerator style pickles. If you want to preserve them at room temperature, you should follow more precise canning instructions for packing and sealing them in jars.
NEXT UP. ANAHEIM CHILES