Tag Archives: preserving

“quickling” – the gateway pickling method | paired with frog’s leap chardonnay

Quickling.  It has become a favorite activity {and all-around awesome word!} here at my house this summer.  You need not let your vegetable harvest go to waste, simply because you feel you do not have the time, space, or know-how to preserve or can your garden goodness.  Quick-pickling, or as I affectionately call the process, “quickling,” is easier and faster than driving down to the grocery to purchase a jar of mediocre, store-bought pickles.  And it is simply more tasty and rewarding!

I hear your hesitation, “I don’t know how to can, and I don’t have one of those fancy pressure cooking devices…”  Well, the process of making refrigerator pickles is simple and does not require a large stockpot or a pressure canner.  “But I only have a small amount of vegetables on hand,” you argue.  Quickling solves that dilemma because you can make a small batch of brine to suit your present demand.  I put off pickling for years because I thought the process was daunting.  If you are a beginning preserver, the quickling process will initiate you beautifully:  simply heat, mix, and pour.  And, if you are a seasoned pro, quickling, as you know, is an excellent time-saver, when you want to quickly preserve and readily enjoy.

I picked these Kirby cucumbers from the garden first thing this morning, when they were at their prime for taste and texture.  I have also heard to pickle or preserve your picked produce {by the way, this sentence was sponsored by the letter, “p”…} as close to the time you picked it, so that its optimal flavor is captured.  I sliced each one, depending upon its size, into either halves or quarters, making sure to cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.  Cutting off the blossom end ensures that an enzyme, which causes sogginess, is removed.

I also avoid commercially bought pickling spices and choose to make my own.  This particular recipe is quite simple:  the spicy, dilly, garlic notes shine through.  I snipped a few cayenne and Thai peppers, several bay leaves, and some fresh dill seeds and flowers.  Some black pepper corns and garlic cloves completed my blend.  Feel free to add other spices, such as coriander, mustard seed, ginger, or even juniper berries.

Spicy Garlic Dilly Quickles  –  adapted from Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars and the amazing blog of the same name

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, sliced with ends removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher or “pickling” salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in halves (2 cloves per jar)
  • 3 spicy peppers, sliced in halves (one per jar or use 1/4 dried pepper flakes per jar)
  • several fresh dill seeds and flowers (or 1 teaspoon dried dill seed per jar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper corns (1/2 teaspoon per jar)
  • 3 bay leaves (one per jar)
  • 3 medium-sized or pint Mason jars (really, you can use whatever size you have on hand, and I have found that regular-sized mouth jars keep the pickles in line better)

Steps:

  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers into quarters or halves, depending upon the size and your preference.  Cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. Add spices to each jar.  Squeeze the cucumbers in as tightly as possible, without damaging them.
  4. Pour the brine liquid into each jar and leave about 1/2 inch head-space at the top of the jar.
  5. Tap the jars carefully to release any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Cover with lids and let cool.  Once the jars are cool, place them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least two days before you enjoy them.  These pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but I am sure that you will enjoy them long before they spoil!

I am super excited to try this batch of refrigerator pickles in a couple of days.  Be sure to keep these pickles refrigerated at all times, for they are not shelf-stable like pressure-canned pickles.  You can also adapt this recipe for other vegetables that you may have on hand; however, if you decide to quickle tougher veggies, like carrots, beets, or asparagus, blanch them for one minute, so that they are able to absorb the pickling flavor more readily.  This afternoon’s garden chores also included harvesting sage leaves, basil, and parsley.  After writing this post, I will be washing, sorting, and clipping the leaves to place in the dehydrator for the dried herb blend.  And an herb-clipping session like this can only be enhanced by a refreshing glass of California Chardonnay!

The wine  –  Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2011

  • On the eyes – pale straw with golden reflections.
  • On the nose – bright citrus with notes of apricot, wet rock, and faint spiced vanilla.
  • On the palate – dry and crisp mouth-feel, with notes of stonefruit, lemon balm, and green apple.
  • On the table – pairs perfectly with an afternoon of gardening or halibut, oysters, or roasted chicken breast {that’s for tonight!}.
  • On the shelf – about $25.
  • On the ears – paired with Wild Nothing’s “Counting Days” from the Nocturne album.  This lazy and dreamy shoe-gaze track captured my sunny, toasty afternoon perfectly.  Through the wispy vocals and hazy keyboards, I can almost see myself driving past an open field with the windows down, hands outstretched the window on a sun-drenched afternoon {while someone else is holding the wheel, of course!}.

Happy sipping, gardening, and quickling!

spinach + mushroom quiche | vegetable reincarnation

We made quiche for the first time this Christmas Day.  Surprisingly easy to make and quite versatile, quiches can be made with whatever you currently have in your kitchen or reflect what is seasonally available.

What a busy month December has been!  I think that a lot of us can say those exact words, accompanied by a deep sigh of relief, now that the month is closing to an end.  I have let the busyness of the season allow for excuses to not write or exercise or take care of myself, as well as I know I should.  A couple of nights ago, over a glass of wine, my boyfriend and I were discussing how we would celebrate Christmas this year.  Both of us had recently assumed new roles within our profession, and with the promotions, came more responsibility and demands upon our time.  The common thread within our conversation was the quest for peace, avoiding stress, and following our own timing for imposed holiday deadlines.

Continue reading

zucchini cake | what a difference a day makes

So, I am going to be late for work already, but I wanted to post this, before I left.  If you grow zucchinis or other squashes, you know that if you neglect your plant for a day or two, you can be greeted with baseball bat-sized zucchinis!  These may look great, but their flavor and delicacy is noticeably different than their smaller-sized specimens.  What to do with them?  For you know, if you are busy, these green giants will surface in your garden.

Within about ten minutes, I have peeled two giant zucchinis, run them through the food processor, set some aside for some zucchini muffins, frozen some shredded zucchini for another day, and added some vegetable matter to the compost!

Continue reading

how to preserve peaches in the freezer

The end of summer in Colorado is signaled by the arrival of peaches from the western slope.  These peaches from Pallisade, Colorado are among the sweetest around, in my opinion, only to be rivaled with those from Georgia.  This year, Pallisade peaches ripened about two weeks earlier than last year, due to our heat wave we have experienced this summer.  I don’t mind the earlier delivery date; I will take these sweet stone fruits any time of year!

Fresh peaches from Pallisade, Colorado, sliced, served with Greek yogurt, drizzled with honey, and tossed with toasted pecans.

I make sure that I am not only able to enjoy these peaches at their peak ripeness now, but I am also able to enjoy them during the winter months by simply canning them, making jam or preserves, and freezing them.  I had attempted freezing peaches, and I must have improperly frozen them because I experienced freezer burn.  With a little research, I decided to give freezing peaches another try.  I obtain so much useful information from pickyourown.org.  This site offers advice on preservation techniques, as well as recipes to utilize your preserved bounty.

Continue reading

specialty vinegars from the garden

I will be completely honest with you, that I feel completely burned out from my past workweek, so much so, that I did not spend much time in either the garden or the kitchen over the past six days!  Today consisted of sleeping in, going out to lunch, making salsa, meeting up with some good friends, and catching up at the garden plot for our monthly potluck and discussion.  It sounds like a lot, but I waltzed my way through each activity in an almost dream-like state.  I think I managed a nap somewhere in between…

About two weeks ago, I experienced a similar day, where I really lacked energy, but I wanted to do something creative and also deal with some excess herbs.  The theme this summer has truly focused on preserving as much of summer’s ripe, fresh bounty, in as many possible ways.  I opened up one of my most useful books, Small-Batch Preserving, ran to the grocery to pick up a few items, and set out to make some flavored vinegars.  The results, although a little time-delayed, proved quite rewarding.

Two weeks later, I had bottles of lemon-thyme-garlic-white wine vinegar and orange-rosemary-garlic-red wine vinegar.

Continue reading