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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pickle Everything!

This is my last free weekend for a while, I am afraid, so I really wanted to make a memory that will last...unfortunately, all the good hotels in Reno were booked (well, OK, there were a few rooms at $500 a night but that's not realistic with boarding the mutts, too) so we decided to delay a trip to Reno until possibly October. Bummer. It doesn't help that my sister is posting great pictures from Las Vegas this weekend.
It's probably just as well...I had a fridge packed full of produce that needed attention, and we really wanted to finish the sprinkler system in the back yard, so we are taking advantage of 4 days off in a row to get some big stuff done around the yard before winter.
I absolutely LOVE watching Michael Symon on Food Network. I like his style, and I really like how he makes fresh pasta, sausage and pickles on almost every Iron Chef show. Since I had a 'peck' of jalapenos that are just sitting in the fridge, I decided to add pickled peppers to my repertoire of recipes. I am not sure how much a 'peck' is, but I had a plastic gallon bag full of peppers, so I thought it qualified :)
Here's the recipe I used- adapted from Michael Symon's Live to Cook   and yes, I actually bought the book for the pictures, not the Kindle version...although I was sorely tempted because it only takes 15 seconds to download.

1 pound of fresh jalapeno peppers, washed
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. Slit each pepper three times with a sharp paring knife and place them in a large glass preserving jar. Or, remove step and cut into slices and then put them in the glass jar.
2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
3. Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.

They are still delicious if you only wait an hour or so, but longer develops the flavor. You can also use this same brine for any other kind of pickle- carrots, squash, green tomatoes, any other kind of peppers- use your imagination. If it's a hard vegetable like carrots, you might want to peel and parboil for a few minutes, but hey, I like the crunch of a crispy carrot.

I also made some pickled green beans, which you can also view above. I used this recipe and I am hoping they are spicy and good! We bought some locally made pickled green beans last year, and used them as a 'stir stick' in Bloody Marys on the weekend during football season, and let me tell you, they were fabulous! Our green bean plants are not producing very well this year, so I think one pint is all we will get...but I can always get some more at the farmer's market next week!
I made quite a few pints and quarts of actual pickles made from cucumbers, too.

The bright green ones are cold-packed before boiling. These should be pretty crisp, since I chilled the cukes overnight in a ice-water and salt bath, and cold packed them. I cooled the brine before adding it, and only boiled them in a water bath for 10 minutes. I'll let you know in 3 weeks if they are still crisp.
And, last but not least, I canned some of the tomatoes from this week. I figured, I have to get a jump on these. We should have at least another week of hot weather with cool but not freezing temps, so I will hopefully be canning a couple of pints every other day to stay ahead. Alas, we always get a hard freeze around the 15th of September, so once again, our guest room will become the tomato/pumpkin and spaghetti squash curing room. Here are two pints of delicious "Martino" Romas and one pint of Lemon Boy tomato quarters.
I love this time of year- the weather is wonderful, my garden is producing wonderfully well and I get to do a lot of specialty cooking to preserve food for all winter and spring...until the next harvest.

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