Posts Tagged pickling

Relishing radishes

I think the veggies I picked at the community garden were radishes rather than turnips — they had that radish bite. But they prove that you can ferment just about anything, and that it has to be my favorite foolproof preservation method of the moment. It was one of those serendipity moments. I thought I was picking greens for soup and salads. But I tugged a whole plant up by mistake, and there was this fat pink-white bulb at the end of it. Two meals from one plant! Awesome.

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But I digress. How was I going to handle a basket of radishes (or possibly turnips), in the knowledge that only one of the two of us is eating proper food right now (the spouse is relegated to munching mush after a long-awaited hospital adventure)?

Continuing the fermentation theme of the last couple of weeks, I tried two experiments — grated and chunked — with beets for color and ginger for an extra bite. The recipe? Well, there isn’t one really. Weigh the grated veggies and add about salt to make up 1.5 percent of their weight, and make up a 3 percent salt brine to pour over the chunks. Squish the veggies well down into the jar, adding brine to the jar with the chunks, weight the vegetables beneath the liquid with a smaller jar filled with water (or brine), cover with cheesecloth and wait. I threw a few slices of ginger in with the chunked veggies, and grated a very large chunk of ginger with the grated ones. The recipes say use filtered/bottled water, but I used regular Toronto tap water. It seemed to work last time.

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The two jars bubbled away happily on the countertop for about five warmish days, and the brine spilled over into the pie plate several times, forcing me to remove bulk or pour off brine. The taste? It’s a vinegary pickle with a radish/ginger bite, especially for the grated veggies. It’s almost Middle Eastern, and I’m rather proud of how well it worked. And both pickles are a beautiful, beautiful dark beet red.

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The bonus: the greens are delicious, like Asian salad greens with a spicy crunch. I ate them in salads, steamed with butter or olive oil, with omelet or scrambled eggs for an instant low-cal supper, and then in a spinach soup without the spinach.

This community garden stuff really is quite fun.

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Mushrooms: salty, slippery, spicy, and really nice

Marinaded mushrooms were one of the few things in the market in winter when I lived in Moscow a few million years ago. They were salty, slippery and very acidic, but I enjoyed them, even if I never did figure out how to make them. So when this month’s Cook the Books challenge focused on Jewish comfort food, it seemed sensible to give the pickled mushrooms recipe a try.

But then Grow and Resist complained bitterly about the over-salty the pickles she made from the Mile End Cookbook, so I got a little frightened and cut the salt from a third of a cup to a quarter, as well as throwing in the spices I had rather than the ones I was supposed to add. The result? They are actually rather nice, with that salty, acid taste I remember from Moscow. Mushrooms do tend to be bland. Adding spices for taste can’t be a bad thing.

I used cider vinegar rather than white vinegar, and juniper rather than thyme and rosemary. Nice taste, and very, very easy, especially after I remembered to add a ziploc of water on top to stop the ‘shrooms floating to the surface.

I also bought chicken livers with the aim of making the chopped liver recipe, but ended up frying them with onion, Savoy cabbage and lots of garlic instead. It was surprisingly, yummily good.

But while I would like to try the lox (if I can find the patience to spend five days brining a fish), the jury’s still out on whether really like this book. I’m not a huge meat eater, so the idea of creating the perfect corned beef doesn’t really appeal, although I was tempted to try the tongue, just because I’m one of about three people I know who actually eat tongue.

Maybe you need to know the New York deli to love the book.

But hey, if I lived within reach of the deli, I wouldn’t need the book. I’d just go straight in and eat the food.

I have another recipe-following session planned before month end with fellow blogger Eat locally, blog globally, so watch this space for an update.

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Creative capering


The wild and wonderful nasturtium plants have been one of the unexpected highlights of our pocket handkerchief back garden, with a serious splash of color among the herbs and other stuff. At their peak, before I started tearing out handfuls of plants and putting them in the compost, they were drowning out two of our three Japanese quince bushes, and both fennel and chives were buries in a sea of nasturtium orange and green. I could use the flowers in a salad, for their color and their peppery bite, but I wanted to try to be braver this year. I’m told that pickled nasturtium seeds taste like capers. It was time to try this out.

The internet recipes I found suggested brining the seeds for 3-5 days first, to remove some of the bitterness, and then draining them and replacing the brine with a vinegar/sugar/spice mix. I guess I’ll give things a week or so, and then report back.

I mean how bad can it be?

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