Monday, July 28, 2008

Making the most of the market

I promise myself every Summer that I will try and do as much freezing and preserving as possible, but either I don't have the money to buy in bulk or I'm too busy working to find the time.

The problem with being under employed is I have time, but nominal money. So You can imagine my excitement when I saw Kirby's on sale today at the market for $3 for two pounds No better entertainment than an afternoon making pickles.

Truth be told I've made several different kinds so far this summer: pickled beets, rhubarb pickle, bread and butter pickles and dill pickles.

My favorites so far are the Bread and Butter pickles - so simple and so good! And a great way to have summer crunch in the middle of February.

With blueberries being such a good price (I bought day old blueberries at Phillips Farm stand on Saturday and got 5 boxes for 10 bucks - what a deal!) I'm going to make some jam and freeze some as well. I'm looking for a low sugar jam, so if anyone has suggestions please let me know.

After much research into pickles and looking at special books dedicated to the art of pickling this is my interpretation of a recipe for Bread and Butter pickles from my favorite old standby The Fanny Farmer Cook Book by Marion Cunningham.

If you don't own this book you should and if you can get a hardcover it's better because the paperback is too small and the pages never want to stay open.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Slice 6 cups of un-waxed Kirby pickles into thin slices and place

Peel and roughly chop 1 pound of onions. A note on the onions. at this point in the Summer their are still small bulb onions being sold that have not developed the brown paper like skin we are all so familiar with in our traditional larder. This early summer onions are bursting with flavor, so if you can get them, use them. And if you can get them small enough just use a pound of small whole ones. They look nicer and if you are a Gibson drinker these little suckers will make you the celebratory of the cocktail circuit.

Kirby's are still being sold well into September and I find there is nothing more frustrating than an recipe calling for baby onions, an item nearly impossible to find in NYC even in season, when all you can find are plain old cooking onions.

All of this digression to say just use the onions you can find, it all works!

Mix the sliced Kirby's and onions (or whole small ones) together in a big bowl with 1/4 cup Kosher salt and let sit covered for 3 hours.

In a medium size pot add: 2 cups raw organic cane sugar, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 T mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 2 cups cider vinegar and bring slowly to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes.

Drain the sliced Kirby and onion mixture and rinse very well with water - you need to repeat this process three or four times otherwise the pickles may end up being too salty. This happened to me when I made them one night while drinking wine and smoking pot, which I don't recommended, being pickled while pickling can be a slippery slope to salty pickles.

Add them to the hot syrup and heat until almost boiling but not quite. Spoon the pickles into hot sterilized jars, fill with liquid leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and seal.

If you want you can process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. I find the heat from the mixture creates a fine seal and I keep all my homemade pickles in the fridge just to be safe.

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