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I love the initial stages of a research project (ie. preserving in jars) when all these avenues of information start opening up & you start having to ‘strain the juice from the pulp’ for where to get your information.
Whilst the Internet has an overwhelming amount of recipes & tips, it’s hard to go past a good recipe book that you can rely on over the years.
One of my favorites is a 1963 re-print of Helen M. Cox’s ‘The Hostess Cook Book’ it is a relic to a more reasonably tempo’d lifestyle, but it also has some killer recipes in there: lemon butter anyone? Reading through the index I can’t imaging what some of the recipes would taste or look like: angels on horseback, bobbers, Hawaiian toss, ham rainbow mould… Back from a time when menus were poetic. My mind wonders at the possibilities. Reminds me of some of Heston Blumenthal’s well publicized adventures.
A couple of my recent acquisitions are: -’Traditional Kitchen Wisdom’ in the edited New Burlington Books “Back to Basics” series which I liked because of the related kitchen garden information included (tips on soil development & growing seasons) as well as broad food storage information, & great detail on ‘how to’ pickle. I plan on running some pickling workshops for interested friends and colleagues so this book is a good point of reference to make available.
-Sally Wise’s 2008 book ‘A Year in a Bottle’ through ABC Books/Harper Collins. Though it has some incredible looking recipes for an array of storable domestic treats, what made me want to buy this book was the extensive trouble shooting chart. This is an incredibly useful text.
Oddly enough, I wouldn’t classify any of these books as ‘food-porn’ which so many cooking books are nowadays. I guess you’d have to be pretty serious about your food storage to get into this area of the culinary arts by choice.
Dear fellow enthusiasts, if you have any favourite food pickling/preserving references, I’d love to hear them.
Spiced Pickled Onion 1st Draft
Original notes with some amendments.
Some reflection on tasting the pickled onions given the initial recipe (pouring in the heated vinegar): the onions taste pretty damn good, not at all soggy like I feared that they would be. Perhaps I got lucky? Will have to replicate the recipe when the stores of onions run low, or a stash of small onions become available. (April 9, 2013)
It’s done! Onions pickled for the upcoming Makeshift jar-swap at Carriageworks/Eveleigh Growers Market this Saturday morning.
Am not sure about swapping these with the general public. Probably better to test on some suspecting family & friends first.
It was great getting the produce from the market, particularly the closing-time bargains.
Spiced Pickled Onion Recipe – makes 6 small jars, depending on how you cram the onions in.
This recipe has been inspired by a few others. As most recommend waiting about a month before eating, I’ll have to amend the recipe to taste as needed in the future.
1/2 – 1 cup sea salt
Approx. 2.5L water
1.5kg small onions
4tbsp. Brown sugar
4 cups vinegar ( I split it: 2 malt v; 1 apple cider v; 1 verjuice)
De-seeded chili thinly sliced, whole cloves, whole peppercorns, ground allspice, and crushed bay-leaves to taste.
Peel onions (skins can be saved for dye-stuffs, or mulch in the garden); place onions in a large bowl/pot; mix half of the salt in with enough water to cover onions fully, and weigh the onions under the brine (I use a side-dish). Change the brine after a day, and let sit for another day or two in a cool shady place.
Sterilize your jars and lids by boiling them in water for 20mins. Whilst this is going on, you can prep the spices, and bring the vinegar/verjuice and sugar mix to almost a simmer in a non reactive pan. You can also wash the onions if you prefer them less salty.
Once the jars are sterilized, carefully take them out of the water-bath ( I find that a wooden spatula and a thick kitchen towel work well), so that as little water remains in the jars and lids as possible.
Throw some of the spices in, and start wedging the onions around the jar. Though more experienced picklers may look down on this suggestion, I suggest cutting down more onions to cram them in. Alternate between layering the onions and filling gaps with more spices to taste. Don’t fill the jar higher than the bottom of the rim-thread: remember that you’ll have to fill the jar with juice to cover the onions (& chillies) so that they’re not exposed to air, which can lead to spoiling or exploding jars if you’re unlucky. On top of this, the juice shouldn’t be up to the rim of the jar either.
When you can’t fill the jar anymore, carefully pour (or ladle) the *
steaming hot cooled vinegar concoction into the jars. Make sure that it is a milliliter or two above the onions, but ideally at least .5cm below the rim of the jar. Use a clean towel that you’ve dipped in the boiling jar water to run around the rim (thread) of the jar, you don’t want the vacuum seal of the jar compromised by any contamination. Use a dry towel to hold the jar and screw the lid on tightly.
The jars that I’m using are pretty standard produce jars, on which the lids pop-up when the vacuum seal is broken. I find that after the produce has cooled in the jar, a vacuum seal has formed. If after cooling you can still compress the lid, the jar isn’t sealed, and won’t keep. You can try unsealing the jar, checking for an obstruction, then resealing and boiling the jar for 20mins. If you just can’t get the jar to seal, I suggest that you put the jar in the fridge, and make delicious balsamy caramelized onions until the jar is used up or the produce starts to get a bit funky.
To caramelized the onions. Chop the onions into slivers. Throw into a pot with some of the vinegar concoction and a slice or two of butter to take the edge off it, & simmer on medium heat until it reduces right down. Lovely to eat with poached eggs & crusty bread.
The picked onions should last in a cool & shady place for around 6 months. Though it could last for more, you need to use your nose and common sense to test it out.
After the jars cooled I wasn’t convinced that an airtight seal had formed, so I boiled the jars (waterline well and truly above the lids) for 20min just to be doubly sure.
*modification after finding some other onion pickling instructions that demand cooled vinegar so that the onions remain crisp! Damn! http://porkandgin.com/recipes/pickled-onions/ and http://www.abc.net.au/tasmania/stories/s2003867.htm
The later, by Sally Wise has lots of interesting info & variation suggestions.
A handy instructable for sealing jars: http://m.instructables.com/id/Canning-Dilly-Green-Bean-Pickles/step10/Boil-Jars-To-Seal/
Some good points towards the end of the post re. not using lids with dents, as they won’t seal properly.
It’s worth the effort to take care. Botulism is not a good thing.
It’s been a while since our last swap. But my basil needed a significant trim, and pesto is always a welcome addition to the pantry. So, brushing up on my jar sterilization technique (just to be sure), I found the instructions here: http://veget-eat.blogspot.com.au/2009/06/boiling-jars-to-preserve-your-home-made.html?m=1 to my liking. Cheers bloggers!
Some inspiration for jar-swappers weary of jams and pickles.. cake in a jar!
I came across these creative folk – Grin Affair – in a tiny ground floor shop beneath a housing development in downtown Singapore. Dessert-type goodness comes layered in jars that can be either eaten on the spot or taken home (as long as you return the jars later). String carriers for 4 or more jars.. too cute!
Pickling is usually done just before winter to preserve your vegetable surplus to last through the cold months. But I think pickles are good to have all year round.
We’ve been growing many types of radishes in our veggie patch in the Southern Highlands. Here I have used Black Spanish Long, Black Spanish Round, Icicle, and Hail Stone radishes.
I just used all the radishes I had from the garden so didn’t weigh them. I cut the larger radishes in half and left the small ones whole. You can keep the tops on if they are young, but I decided to cut them off to a short stem.
200 grams white sugar
1 litre apple cider vinegar
1 litre water
1 dozen black peppercorns
4 bay leafs (1 for each jar)
1 small dried chilli
Sprinkle of fennel seeds
(You can use other spices if you like. This recipe is quite sweet so add some salt if you prefer).
Add all ingredients to a pot and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
Place radishes into sterilised jars and pour liquid and spices into jars. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the jars. Seal with a lid.
I didn’t quite have enough to fill the jars so there is a little extra room!
I’m looking forward to the Christmas break so I can snack on all the goodies we’ve been exchanging.
The heavy downpour of rain last week presented the perfect opportunity to harvest some worm wee (or worm juice to be polite) from our worm farm. Our worm farm is in fact a worm mansion towering four stories high!
We feed the worms all fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps except garlic, onion, and citrus. We also have a compost for leaves and other green matter. Worm wee is a great fertiliser.
Essentially, the rainwater filters through each layer and catches in the bottom container. Sometimes we leave the tap open with a bucket underneath when there is lots of rain so liquid can come straight out and the worms don’t drown.
To use worm wee all you have to do is dilute 1 part worm wee to 10 parts water. I usually use a 10L watering can which makes it easy to measure out. I’ve filled up some recycled 2L milk bottles to share with the group.
Today I have been bottling what I hope will be some delicious tangy Goan Eggplant Pickle. It’s a recipe I have made before and really enjoyed eating.
From a fragrant base of coconut & olive oil, ghee, mustard and fenugreek seeds, I added chilli, a few other spices and lots of organic eggplants. This gets fried off for a while, then some salt, sugar and malt vinegar get added to give that potent pickled goodness!
Something to note fellow jarries, is that you should leave these to age for around 3 weeks before you dig in. But keep the jar in the fridge for the whole time, whether its opened or not….
I like eating this with some homemade dahl, yoghurt, rice, and loads of coriander.
Here it is in the middle jar,alongside all the other things the group have made so far!