Whether it’s irresistible temptations from the farmer’s market, a CSA box busting at the seams, or your backyard garden’s bounty, preserving is a fun way to put your own spin on the harvest.
SWEET AND SPICY PICKLED CAULIFLOWER AND CARROTS
Makes 1 64-ounce jar (or 4 1-pint jars)
- 2 ½ cups water
- 2 ½ cups white vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 8 star anise pods
- 2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
- 2 Tbsp. pink (or black) peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
- 4 tsp. dried chile flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 pound slender young carrots, about
- 7 inches long, tops trimmed away, washed and peeled
- ¾ pound cauliflower, core trimmed away, florets washed and trimmed to ¾-inch pieces.
A-TO-Z PINOT GRIS Willamette Valley, Oregon. Springy and intense in the nose with aromas of tangerine, melon, kiwi, and tropical fruit, this wine is a great accompaniment to the sweet and spicy flavors of this pickled combo.
1. In a large saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat.
2. Add half the bay leaves, spices, and garlic to the bottom of the jar.
3. Arrange half of the cauliflower florets on the bottom of the jar, packing them in carefully. Holding the jar at an angle, add the carrots vertically to the jar, resting the bottoms on the cauliflower, packing them tightly so they all stand up. Carefully arrange the remaining cauliflower on top of the carrots, leaving ¾ inch of space from the top of the jar. Top cauliflower with the remaining spices and garlic.
4. Ladle hot brine into the jar, leaving a ½-inch gap from the top.
5. Screw the lid onto the jar firmly, but not too tight. Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or for shelf stability, process for 15 minutes in boiling water. Cool jar on a towel or rack. Then store in cool, dry place.
A rich alternative to Sriracha
Makes 1 pint
- 8 ounces dried chiles (check chile packages for description of heat level; I like to use a mix of milder and hotter, as well as throw in a few smoked chiles, i.e. chipotle)
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
- 3 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 pint jar, with lid and screw band, sterilized
RENWOOD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL. Amador County, California. Try offsetting spicy foods with a juicy—even sweet—wine. In this case, the Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel offers a fascinating, jam-packed mouth-feel of dark fruit, alluring florals, and even roasted coffee.
1. Using gloves (to protect your skin from chile oils) and working over a bowl to catch the seeds, pull the stems from the chiles. Tear the chiles in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Discard stems and seeds.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, lay the chile pieces flat in the pan and toast until fragrant, just a minute or two, being careful not to burn them. Toss them into a large bowl as you go. Cover the chiles with boiling water and let soften for 20 to 30 minutes.
3. While the chiles soften, add the caraway, coriander, and cumin seeds to the skillet and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a powder.
4. Drain chiles and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the toasted spices, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon rind, and salt. Process to a smooth paste.
5. Transfer harissa to jar, leaving ½ inch from the top. Screw the lid onto the jar firmly, but not too tight. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or for shelf stability, process for 10 minutes in boiling water. Cool jar on a towel or rack. Then store in cool, dry place.
PEARS POACHED IN WINE
Makes 2 1-quart jars
- 4 ½ cups red table wine
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 6 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 allspice berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 12-16 pears, peeled and cored, stems intact preferably Seckel or other small variety
MOMMESSIN GAMAY FIZZ. Beaujolais, France. Fizzy, bubbly, goodness! Exceptionally cheery, with notes of sun-ripened berries and fresh garden herbs, this rare and inexpensive find is the perfect complement to these succulent pears.
1. In a large saucepan, combine red wine, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in vanilla and remove from heat.
2. Divide spices and rosemary between the jars.
3. Gently pack pears into the jars, alternating up, down, and sideways.
4. Ladle hot brine into the jars, leaving a ¼-inch gap from the top.
5. Screw the lids onto the jars firmly, but not too tight. Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or for shelf stability, process for 15 minutes in boiling water. Cool jars on a towel or rack. Then store in cool, dry place.
Makes 2 1-quart jars
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup white table wine, (preferably not Chardonnay)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. kosher salt (or to taste, depending upon saltiness of broth)
- 12 leeks, roots trimmed away, trimmed to 6-½ inches (so they fit vertically in jars leaving ½-inch gap from top)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 2 cloves garlic
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 1-quart canning jars with lids and screw bands, sterilized
CHAMISAL VINEYARDS CALIFA SELECTION CHARDONNAY. Edna Valley, California. The best way to pair flavors is to cook with the wine that will accompany the finished dish. Here, the Chamisal Califa Chardonnay offers a gorgeous framework of fruit flavors, bright acidity, and a toasty finish.
1. In a large saucepan, combine broth, wine, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until salt dissolves. Remove from heat.
2. Halve leeks lengthwise. Discard outer-most layers; then, keeping leek halves intact, carefully wash leeks under running water to remove grit.
3. Divide bay leaves, spices, garlic, and thyme sprigs evenly among the jars.
4. Pack the leeks vertically into the jars, tilting each jar a bit sideways in order to fit as many leeks into each jar as possible. Really pack them in.
5. Ladle hot broth into the jars, leaving a ¼-inch gap from the top.
6. Screw the lids onto the jar firmly, but not too tight. Process in a pressure canner according to manufacturer’s instructions**. Cool jar on a towel or rack. Then store in cool, dry place
**Low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner for shelf stability. Pressure canners are widely available in kitchen supply stores, hardware stores, and online.
“Canning has come into its own,” says Lauren Devine-Hager, Product Research and Test Kitchen Scientist for Ball, the maker of the iconic Ball jar.“People are more concerned with eating fresh and they want to know where their food comes from,” she says. “They’re trying to support local farmers, going to markets. And they’re exploring preserving in new ways.” Chefs are incorporating preserves into their offerings, and home cooks are making and enjoying exotic chutneys, pickles, and jams. Here, Devine-Hager offers her top 10 tips for successful home canning. For all the basics, visit Ball’s extensive website, freshpreserving.com.
Top 10 Tips For At-Home Preserving
1. Gather the right tools. There are different preserving methods for different food. For heat processing, for example, you need a pressure canner. Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools you need—and understand how to use them. It will make the job much easier.
2. Grab the best jar for the job. If you’re canning whole tomatoes, you’ll need a large jar with a wide mouth; but it you’re preserving salsa and using a funnel, you could use something with a smaller mouth. Ball’s packaging has a chart that indicates the best uses for each jar size, or visit FRESHPRESERVING.COM. And never use a jar that’s cracked or chipped, or that has a lid or ring that’s warped or scratched.
3. Take advantage new technology. Jam is the number one thing most people want to preserve. Ball has a jam and jelly maker that lets you make jam in less than 30 minutes, and most of that is hands-off time.
4. Be creative. You don’t have to stick with straight raspberry jam every time. If you’ve gone to the farmer’s market or pulled a load of fresh produce from your garden, think about options with layers of flavor, like Caribbean Peach Chutney instead of plain peaches in syrup. But, always use a tested recipe (see tip #5).
5. Always use a USDA-approved recipe. You can’t use any old recipe, put it through the canning process, and expect it to be safe (or tasty). Start with a USDA-approved website, like the ones in the Ball Blue Book, on freshpreserving.com, or the USDA’S ONLINE GUIDE TO HOME CANNING. If you want to use your own recipe, freeze it instead of canning. You can freeze jams, salsa, pasta sauce, pesto sauce, and more.
6. Read the entire recipe first. Some canning recipes can be lengthy. You don’t want to get in the middle of it and then realize you don’t know what you’re doing, or don’t have all the ingredients or supplies.
7. Begin with the best. Some people think that canning will improve the produce. But you can’t make jam with moldy strawberries. You want to capture your fruits and vegetables at their peak, so they shouldn’t be under- or overripe.
8. Don’t overfill the jar. Each recipe should explain how much room to leave at the top of the jar.
9. Only store your preserves for one year. If you end up with more preserved produce than you can eat in a year, share with your friends and family. Follow the planting guide on freshpreserving.com to see how much yield you’ll get from your garden, so you don’t end up with too much.
10. Label everything. Label each jar with what’s inside, and when you preserved it. If you’re canning a lot of different things, it can be difficult to remember what’s what.