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Garden favorites get themselves in a pickle

Wed., Aug. 19, 2009

Teaching duo will show others some unusual canning options

It might be the first thing that comes to mind, but pickling doesn’t have to mean cucumbers.

Green beans and asparagus also are pickling classics, but the more adventurous can pickle almost any garden produce and some fruits.

Beets and mushrooms are favorites, but don’t overlook carrots, cantaloupe, squash, watermelon rind and cauliflower.

Huckleberry’s Natural Market bakery/cheese specialist Amy Clark and new executive chef Anne Bauer plan to teach a class on pickling Thursday.

She says one of her favorite things to pickle is a sweet and hot garden mix that includes carrots, onions, red bell pepper and squash, as well as cucumbers (recipe follows). The mixture looks great, too.

The duo will be teaching other canning classes this fall, including a course on putting up tomatoes in September and apples in October.

“One of the reasons we’re doing the class is so that people don’t feel so intimidated by canning,” Clark says.

More information on the classes is available by calling (509) 624-1349.

It is important to carefully follow pickling recipes. Pickles rely on having the correct amount of acidity so they can be safely preserved in a boiling water bath. If pickles are too sour or tart, add a small amount of sugar to the recipe, but do not reduce or dilute the amount of vinegar.

Use only recipes that have been tested for canning and include a processing time. Outdated recipes for pickles may not call for processing in a boiling water bath; however it is required for all pickles and relishes to destroy the yeasts, molds and bacteria that cause spoilage and to inactivate enzymes that could affect color, flavor and texture, according to university extension food safety specialists.

Relishes and chutneys also rely on vinegar to create the perfect acidity for water-bath canning. They’re fun to serve and make great gifts.

If water bath canning is beyond your expertise, Cooking Light magazine offers a fabulous “Preserving the Bounty” feature on its Web site with recipes designed to keep in the refrigerator.

Sweet and Hot Garden Mix Pickles

From Smith and Hawken’s “Gardeners’ Community Cookbook,” compiled and edited by Victoria Wise (Smith and Hawken, 1999).

4 cups peeled and coarsely cut (1/2-inch chunks) cucumbers (1 pound)

2 cups trimmed and sliced (1/2-inch-thick rounds) summer squash, preferably yellow for color (1/2 pound)

2 cups scraped and sliced (1/2-inch-thick rounds) carrots (1/2 pound)

1 cup sliced (1/4-inch-thick) onions

1 cup seeded, sliced (1/4-inch-wide strips) red bell pepper

½ cup stemmed and thinly sliced jalapenos (3 peppers)

2 cups cider vinegar

2 ½ cups sugar

2 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt

Prepare 4 quart or 8 pint jars and lids for canning according to Ball Blue Book or manufacturers’ directions. Pack the vegetables, distributing each kind evenly, into the jars.

Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the vegetables in the jars. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. (Add 5 minutes processing time for each 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level.)

Pickled Eggplant Chutney

“This spicy condiment is delicious with curries or served with sharp cheese and pickles for a British ploughman’s lunch. Adjust the quantity of peppers to your desired heat level,” write authors Carla Emery and Lorene Edwards Forkner in “Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide” (Sasquatch Books, 2009).

2 large eggplants

3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons prepared chili powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 tablespoon fenugreek seed

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar

1 cup sugar

2 to 4 hot red chilies, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons pickling salt

Cut eggplant into small cubes and reserve.

Combine the vinegar, garlic, chili powder, ground ginger and turmeric in a small bowl to form a paste. Reserve.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat and briefly sauté the cumin and fenugreek seed. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat and add the reserved spice paste and the vinegar, sugar, chili peppers, fresh ginger and pickling salt. Bring to a boil and stir for 5 minutes.

Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilized half-pint or pint jars, allowing 1/2 inch headspace. Follow water-bath canning instructions and process for 15 minutes for half pints, 20 minutes for pints for elevations less than 1,000 feet.

Add 5 minutes to processing time for elevations from 1,001 feet to 3,000 feet. Add 10 minutes for elevations from 3,001 to 6,000 feet. Above 6,000 feet add 15 minutes.

Yield: 3 pints

Cantaloupe Pickles

From “So Easy to Preserve,” by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

5 pounds of 1-inch cantaloupe cubes (about 2 medium under-ripe cantaloupe; see note)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 ½ cups cider vinegar (5 percent)

2 cups water

1 ½ cups white sugar

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

Wash cantaloupe and cut into halves; remove seeds. Cut into 1-inch slices and peel. Cut strips of flesh into 1-inch cubes. Weigh out 5 pounds of pieces and place in large glass bowl.

Place red pepper flakes, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger in a spice bag and tie the ends firmly. Combine vinegar and water in a 4 quart stockpot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat off. Add spice bag to the vinegar-water mixture and let steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour hot vinegar solution and spice bag over melon pieces in the bowl. Cover with a food-grade plastic lid or wrap and let stand overnight in the refrigerator (about 18 hours).

Wash and rinse pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.

Carefully pour off vinegar solution into a large 8- to 10-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add sugar; stir to dissolve. Add cantaloupe and bring back to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until cantaloupe pieces turn translucent, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

Remove cantaloupe pieces into a medium-sized stockpot, cover and set aside. Bring remaining liquid to a boil and boil an additional 5 minutes. Return cantaloupe to the liquid syrup and bring back to a boil.

With a slotted spoon, fill hot cantaloupe pieces into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Cover with boiling hot syrup, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

Process in a boiling water canner 15 minutes for elevations below 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for 1,001 to 6,000 feet, and 25 minutes above 6,000 feet.

Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Note: Select cantaloupe that are full-size but almost fully green and firm to the touch in all areas including the stem area.

Yield: About 4 pint jars

Red Tomato Chutney

This recipe is from “This sweet-tart chutney pairs summery tomatoes with fall-flavored cranberries, making it an all-purpose condiment for late-summer and fall barbecues. Spoon it over burgers and grilled chicken. In cooler weather, toss a little chutney with roasted vegetables, such as parsnips, turnips or sweet potatoes. Or mix it with low-fat mayonnaise to make a dip for raw vegetables.”

3 cups finely chopped peeled tomato (about 4 large)

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Cool; pour into airtight containers.

Note: Refrigerate in airtight containers up to two months.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

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