8.20.12 Summer in a jar

These jars are like a timeline of summer’s harvests. Ever since reading about Daphne’s refrigerator pickles, our refrigerator has been slowly filling up with them, added to as the season progresses. Left to right: baby carrots, Cincinnati Market radishes, and Masai filet beans mixed with Dragon Langerie, all in a rice vinegar brine.

Above: A partial jar of baby beets, and a mix of summer squashes and carrots.

Our favorite slicing cucumber is Boothby’s Blonde, an heirloom from Maine. We usually plant more than we need to ensure there’s enough for the tomato and cucumber sandwiches we gorge on all season long.

When canned, the Boothby’s tend to go soft, more so than conventional pickling cucumbers. Using them as refrigerator pickles seems to suit them perfectly — they retain their crisp texture, and taste of lemons in a beguiling way. I added pickling spices and a garlic scape to the jar above, with some standard green cucumbers filling in the top.

These jars were an experiment in making a quick tatsoi kimchi using two different recipes. Both were more like a salad, and made me miss the flavor and texture of a true kimchi.

A mid-summer harvest of tatsoi and fun jen went into making our first batch of kimchi. Above: Before and after six house of brining.

Once everything was mixed with the rest of the ingredients, the kimchi was packed into quart-sized jars. Glass jar lids from Weck conveniently fit inside a Ball wide-mouth quart jar; they’re placed on top in order to keep the vegetables submerged during fermentation.

I used Alex Lewin‘s recipe from Real Food Fermentation —  his book is super user-friendly, with many photographs of the process. He urges the reader to taste at certain points of the process, helpful advice for ending up with something you’re sure to like. For those unfamiliar with kimchi, Lewin also includes a list of serving ideas.

This version of cucumber kimchi is from David Chang’s cookbook, Momofuku. Meant as a fresh pickle, this particular combination of salty, sweet flavors reminded me of summers spent visiting my grandparents in Hawaii.

I make several jars of lacto-fermented salsa every year based on Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. This year’s batch is from a colorful mix of heirloom tomatoes fresh from the farmers’ market.

Each quart jar gets a dose  of whey obtained from draining yogurt, and salt. I employ a whey starter to create a favorable environment for the right microbes, and get the fermentation process off to a good start.

This method preserves the taste and texture of fresh tomatoes, and the resulting jars will more than make up for the space they take up come mid-winter.

An excess of pickling cucumbers was an opportunity to experiment with a salsa based on them. With red onion and yellow tomato tossed in the mix, the color has since mellowed from its initial brightness. A taste-off is soon to come, and patience while everything cures, hopefully, rewarded.

A big welcome to those of you visiting from Bonbon Break, thanks for dropping by! Make sure to also visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where she hosts Harvest Monday, a weekly gathering of gardeners to show off what’s being harvested, and how it’s being used or saved. Harvests may ebb and flow with the change in seasons, however, there’s camaraderie in knowing others around the world are growing food in whatever space they have available, whether it’s on a balcony or windowsill, in a container or raised bed, or an entire lawn converted over to cultivation.

And a special hello to those of you coming over from Breaking New Ground, thanks for swinging by!

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22 Responses to 8.20.12 Summer in a jar

  1. Amber says:

    Wow…that’s a lot of pickling, yo! Are you starting your radicchio/chicory yet? Just transplanted. The “puntarelle” type chicory (the two varieties I think you are trying as well) look to be doing well. Can’t wait to see.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Thanks for checking in, Amber! I particularly like how this kind of pickling can be slipped in random free moments of time. We’re just doing our fall planting this week, and look forward to seeing how they fare for you.

  2. Do you eat the pickled foods straight from the jar or use them in recipes. I have been interested in fermenting (trying some hot sauce now) and other methods of preservation….as a freezer can only hold so much and canning is labor intensive.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Good question, SM! It depends… we mostly serve the pickled vege straight from the jar, but have been trying to expand how we use them. The kimchi definitely lends itself to different uses, and imagine we’ll be experimenting more once the weather cools.

  3. I have a friend that has recently gotten really into fermenting. I am going to share your post with her. All those fermented veggies look really yummy.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Hi, Cristy, thanks for sharing my post with your friend! I had a lot of trepidation about trying lacto-fermentation (and poisoning ourselves by mistake), was fortunate to take a class that helped to introduce me to the basic principles. I like using whey as extra insurance, and I’ve seen powdered cultures also available.

  4. Norma Chang says:

    You sure have been busy. I should give refrigerator pickle a try, going to start saving my cukes, hope I am not too late, the days are getting shorter.

    • leduesorelle says:

      The great thing about the quick refrigerator pickles is that you can add to the jars as the harvest comes in!

  5. Everything looks so good. You do well with your harvest! I have only a small area here on the shores of Lake Michigan for vegetables, most of the garden rooms are flowers. When I saw your blog name I thought of the poem I wrote about a tomato which I have posted in the archives titled, Garden Erotica (Nov. 11, 2011). You might like it. Jack

  6. kitsapfg says:

    Those jars are all so pretty to look at – and I am positive they taste lovely too! I love the refrigerator dills because they do hold that nice crisp texture. I find I am not inclined to do regular processed dills much anymore. I need to make up another batch of brine though soon and fill the jar up going into the fall so we can prolong the good eating as much as possible.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Thanks, kitsapfg! It’s all still in the experimental stages, and time will tell which ones will be worth repeating. So far, I wish I made more of the pickled sugar snaps!

  7. kate @ bbf. says:

    mmm, looks delicious. one of the other MFPs just emailed me yesterday to say they are hosting alex lewin at their farm in yarmouth for a talk. i will pass on the details when i get them.

  8. maryhysong says:

    It all looks very yummy! Love all the pretty colors; I am going to have to try out some of these ideas~

    • leduesorelle says:

      It’s very instant gratification in terms of how quickly these jars are to assemble, but still require some patience while the flavors meld!

  9. Jane LaPointe says:

    I’ll be rethinking my purchases at the Farmer’s Market and considering how to get more shelf and refrigerator space in my smallish apartment. Love the idea of canning without the pressure cooker or canner .. not to mention what it’s like in the middle of the winter to taste something from the summer.

  10. Christina says:

    Everything looks so lovely…. They would make beautiful gifts.

  11. maesprose says:

    Hmmm.. I think I know what I will be doing this weekend! Love the idea of canning without so much fuss.

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