We are in pickling and canning season and that is when a lot of gardening is done from early summer to late fall to save and store for winter. “Take a lesson from the ants. They labor all summer, gathering food for the winter,” my grandmother used to say.
Off seasons are usually spring and winter. Some like to can when it is not as hot. I love making my berry jam when they are in season, regardless of the heat outside.
But when it comes to pickling and canning, I follow my senses the same way I was taught to do in the kitchen (and in life as well). And it all depends also on what is available and affordable.
This is the time of the year when I think about and long for my mom’s eggplant escabeche. She used to make it especially for my dad..
My mom is the type of cook that cooks with her senses and with the seasons. Don’t ask her for a recipe. She needs the seasonal aromas, colors and textures to get inspired and create.
So here is her recipe and as she would do, go ahead and add your own twist and personal touch.
Yield 4 cups
2 lbs eggplant, peeled and stemmed
1/4 c coarse kosher salt or sea salt
3 c water
1 1/2 c white vinegar
1 t whole black peppercorns (plus optional extra)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1 t ají molido or crushed red pepper
3-4 bay leaves
1 1/2 c canola, olive or sunflower oil
Slice the eggplant lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices, then cut the slices into ¼-inch-wide sticks. Toss the eggplant with the salt, and place in a colander over a bowl and let it drain for 1-4 hours a room temperature for 1-4 hours. Once drained, gently squeeze the eggplant to remove any remaining liquid.
In a medium pot, bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Add the eggplant, peppercorns and bay leaves and boil, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes.
Place eggplant in a colander and drain for 4 more hours at room temperature. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a clean 1-quart jar with a tight fitting lid, arrange the eggplant in layers sprinkling with garlic, oregano, thyme adding oil as you arrange the eggplant, more peppercorns (optional), and tucking the bay leaves on the side. Keep adding eggplant, covering with more oil and spices until the jar is full. (Add enough oil to fully cover the eggplant.) Season to taste
Tap the jar on the countertop to release any bubbles and seal when the eggplant are now longer hot. Place in the fridge for at least a week before eating to allow the flavors to blend and the vinegar to soften a bit.
The eggplant escabeche keeps stored in the fridge for up to a month or so.
Summer Corn Relish
This recipe is summertime favorite and this year Mother Nature has blessed us with an extra sweet, juicy corn harvest. Serve it over your favorite bread, spreads, salads or burgers.
Yield 4 pints
8 c fresh corn cut from the cob (about 20 ears)
3 c red onions, finely chopped
1/2 c yellow or orange pepper, chopped
1/2 c red pepper, chopped
1/4 c jalapeño, seeded, chopped
3 c cider vinegar
1 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c light agave nectar
7-9 t pickling salt
2 t celery seeds
1 T dry mustard (optional)
In a medium pot, combine all ingredients well. Cover and boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Pour relish into clean, hot, with tight-fitting lid jars leaving a bit of space on top.
Seal and process in a boiling-water-bath for 15-20 minutes, adding more water to the bath if necessary to keep the jars covered with 2 inches of water above the top of the jars. Remove and let cool before storing.
*Sealed jars can be stored in dark, cool places. Unsealed ones should be kept in the refrigerator.
Yield 5 pints
4 lbs rhubarb, diced
5 c brown sugar
1 lb Medjool dates, pitted
1 T cardamom
1 T cinnamon
Pinch of fresh grated ginger
1 T ground cloves
2 c cider vinegar
In a medium pot, combine and slowly boil all the ingredients (minus the vinegar) for about 2 hours or so stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and boil for another 10-15 minutes. At this point you can either let it cool and store in the refrigerator or seal it and process in a boiling-water-bath for 10-15 minutes.
I am crazy about beets. I can have them raw, roasted, juiced, and even pickled or as jam. So here is my pickled version. I love it on anything and with everything.
Yield 6-7 pints
12 lbs of roasted, peeled beets (any kind), sliced
4 c cider vinegar
1 c water
2/3 c brown sugar
Pinch of fresh ginger, orange or lemon zest
2 T pickling salt
In a medium pan, combine vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the beets and heat for 5-7 minutes.
Pack them in clean, hot jars. Cover with hot brine leaving a bit of space on top (about 1/2 inch).
Process in a boiling-water-bath for 30-45 minutes. Let cool before storing.