Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Save the Fruits of Summer

When school buses roll and a chill is in the air, I'm relieved that the summer heat and humidity are finally gone and I can get out and enjoy the garden once again. At the same time, however, I'm filled with a sense of urgency to get on with harvesting and preserving. Here are some fast and easy ways I use to put up fruits and vegetables for the winter.

Onions and garlic are easy and carefree to grow. Keep them through the cold months by tying them into bundles, hanging them to dry then cleaning and storing them in a cool, dark place.

Garlic ready for the cellar or, in our house, the front hall closet -- it's dark and cool.

To make pickled hot peppers, simply slice, put in jars and fill with vinegar. After a week, they're ready to be sprinkled over nachos or pizzas for extra heat.

This is Emily's German Pickled Zucchini. The secret to this recipe is the unique flavor of Gurken-Meister, a German pickling vinegar. She gave me a bottle (she likes to do this) and a list of ingredients. Even with no instructions, this was easy to make and used a ton of the overgrown zucchinis from the garden.

German Pickled Zucchini
2 lbs zucchinis, cut into bite size pieces
3 red peppers, cut into bite size pieces
3 onions, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup Gurken-Mesiter
2 cups apple juice
1 cup sugar
1 TBS dill
1 TBS mustard seeds
1 TBS peppercorn
2 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes. Put into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 2 quarts.

When Emily first brought these pickles to knitting night in small, pint jars, they were gone instantly. They disappear just as quickly at our house without the knitters so I now put them in quart size jars or larger. The vegetables become sweet and crunchy, good with grilled meats and sandwiches.

Plum and Cherry Brandy
When fruits are plentiful and ripe to bursting, the fastest way to save them is to put them in a jar and cover with vodka. I add one cup of sugar to 1 quart of vodka, but use more or less according to your taste. After six weeks, decant and serve. Intoxicating with only a slight sweetness.

This Blueberry Bounce is vodka infused with blueberries, sugar, herbs and spices.
Just right over fruit desserts and as an after-dinner nightcap.

Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning was my inspiration for some of these creations. The book highlights "traditional but little-known French techniques for storing and preserving edibles in ways that maximize flavor and nutrition." It's a good read.


Amy D said...

Nice post, Ting, very informative with great photos and writing!

Ting said...

Thanks Amy, I love hearing from you.