WellPreserved http://www.wellpreserved.ca Preserving, Cooking, Recipes and Writing Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:33:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cropped-Untitled-32x32.jpg WellPreserved http://www.wellpreserved.ca 32 32 102843996 What is Batch Preserving? http://www.wellpreserved.ca/what-is-batch-preserving/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/what-is-batch-preserving/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:23:48 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24393 If you’re not familiar with Batch Preserving, we made a couple of really quick videos to help you get started. The more you know about the 7 different methods of food preserving, the more options you’ll have to Batch your preserves and level-up your pantry for the winter. It’s peak harvest time around here, time...

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If you’re not familiar with Batch Preserving, we made a couple of really quick videos to help you get started. The more you know about the 7 different methods of food preserving, the more options you’ll have to Batch your preserves and level-up your pantry for the winter. It’s peak harvest time around here, time to make the most of everything in your garden!

See just how easy these recipes are. Get your hands on some late season strawberries and give this a try while you’re making a last batch of jam. It will also work with berries and peaches. It will also work with Jalapenos if you swap salt for the sugar in the first recipe (and fill the jar with salt too). Easy Peasy!

Hope this gives you some inspiration!

———

We’re doing a Batch Preserving workshop at Haute Goat in Port Hope Ontario in a couple of weeks (it’s just 1.5 hour drive from Toronto, you get a great farm lunch, and to visit with the goats too!). It’s a small class size so we’ll be able to answer lots of questions. After a few hours you’ll feel totally comfortable doing all kinds of Batches of preserves without waiting and promising yourself you’ll do it next spring preserving season!

Can’t make it to a workshop. #Batchcookbook is crammed full of ideas, tonnes of them you can make in 10 minutes or less.

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Fermented vs. Vinegar Pickles – What’s the Difference? http://www.wellpreserved.ca/vinegarvferment/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/vinegarvferment/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 02:44:59 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24192 The first time I heard the question I thought it was a joke. We were teaching a group of people how to make pickles. I listened carefully and realized it wasn’t. By the third (and so far, final) time I heard it I realized that it was me who was lacking understanding and not the...

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The first time I heard the question I thought it was a joke. We were teaching a group of people how to make pickles. I listened carefully and realized it wasn’t. By the third (and so far, final) time I heard it I realized that it was me who was lacking understanding and not the people asking me.

“Are you serious? Pickles are made from cucumbers?”

I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a dumb question. And this one is no exception – although many of us in North America think of ‘pickles’ as ‘cucumbers’ the truth is that there is an entire world of pickles and pickling. Lime pickles, pickled herring, pickled fruit, vegetables (onions and carrots are great), fish, eggs and even pickled sausage. And that’s just the beginning!

Regardless of using vegetables, fruit or anything else, pickles are generally made by adding vinegar (to increase the acidity) or by adding salt and water (which will assist fermentation and create good bacteria and acid. We’ll walk you through the basics below!

Vinegar Pickles – Type 1 – Quick Pickles

The gist: These are the easiest pickles to make! Vegetables, fruit or protein (i.e. eggs) are covered in brine (which is sometimes heated). Eaten fresh or stored in the fridge for weeks or months, these pickles tent to be crunchy as they are barely cooked and are easy to experiment with.

The taste: These tend to be acidic and are generally more subtle than other pickles due to the short time it takes to create them. You can experiment wildly when creating these!

The basics: Making quick pickles isn’t complicated – equal parts water and vinegar with honey to taste. Add a dash of salt and any flavouring ingredients you wish (hot pepper flakes, dill, garlic and ginger are all great). Bring to a simmer, toss vegetables (or anything else) into the brine, immediately remove from heat and cool! We do this often for dinner and eat pickles the same night we make them.

Variations: You can pickle anything with this method! It’s often used to pickle eggs, fruit (pickled cherries), onions (great on tacos), carrots, bowls of mixed vegetables and pickled spruce tips are all examples of quick pickles.

Vinegar Pickles – Type 2 – Waterbath Canning

The gist: Vegetables are covered with hot vinegar in mason jars and boiled to preserve them. They can be stored on a shelf and involve more work and cooking than their fermented cousins.

The taste: Because these pickles are cooked and aged in vinegar these tend to be the most acidic or ‘sharp.’ The texture can be a little soft if processed for too long. As this is a waterbath recipe you should use recipes from trusted sources and not experiment.

The basics: Vinegar pickles are synonymous with canning or water bath canning. A vinegar-based brine is added to vegetables (including cucumbers, carrots, hot peppers, dilly beans and onions). The food is sometimes packed into a jar without cooking (called ‘raw packing’) or cooked in the brine and added immediately after cooking (called ‘hot packing’). Brine is added to the jars before a lid is applied and the jar is processed under boiling water for a specified period of time (usually 5-15 minutes).

Variations: Pickled beets, pickled fiddleheads, pickled cucumbers, pickled hot peppers, pickled asparagus, and dilly beans are all common waterbath pickle examples.

 

Fermented Pickles

The gist: Have you ever had the pleasure of eating a ‘deli’ or ‘kosher’ pickle? They are made nearly identically to fermented carrots, kimchi, sauerkraut and a host of other fermented pickles (fermented radishes are awesome)! Vegetables are mixed with salt (and often water) and left at room temperature to ferment for several days-months before being transferred to the fridge (where fermenting virtually stops).

The taste: Fermented pickles are renowned for their sour and complex flavors. You can experiment wildly with fermenting!

The basics: Fermented pickles are generally created with vegetables, salt and unchlorinated water. A typical ratio of salt-to-vegetable is 1-2% (by weight) of non-iodized salt to veggies. The salt is mixed into the food (which is sometimes crushed such as the case of sauerkraut) and the salt will ‘pull’ liquid from the ingredients to create a brine. Water-dense food (such as cabbage) will often not need additional water while drier produce (such as carrots) will. The key to this process is to keep all ingredients submerged, cover with a lose cloth and to check it daily as it ferments. If any foam/skuzz (it’s not mould) appears on top just remove it with a spoon. The process is complete when you’re happy with the flavor/texture.

Variations: Pickled turnip, fermented mixed veggies, fermented carrots, fermented daikon, sauerkraut and fermented cucumbers are all examples of common ferments.

 

 

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Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/cold-smoked-bbq-sauce-recipe/ Mon, 12 Jun 2017 22:59:03 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24118 I am going to break every rule of recipe writing in this post. I’m going to be approximate,give you guidance that you may or may not take, play loose and wild with temperatures and even use a technique different than the title. But I promise there’s a payoff. The purpose of this post is to...

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I am going to break every rule of recipe writing in this post. I’m going to be approximate,give you guidance that you may or may not take, play loose and wild with temperatures and even use a technique different than the title. But I promise there’s a payoff. The purpose of this post is to share a technique that you can use with almost any ingredients to make your own cold smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe. I’m going to share a handy trick and a little ratio that will make your BBQ sauce a surefire winner!

This is a sauce I made on the weekend (before it was blended). I forgot to add the garlic (more on that soon), the heat got out of control and turned my cold smoker into a hot smoker, I was too lazy to take the roots off (they are made of onions) and see the 4 dark rectangles on top of the onions? Those were pieces of mozzarella that I had leftover from making cheeseburgers from lunch – rather than running back to the house, I just laid the cheese on top of the onions to smoke. I over smoked the cheese (it was not really edible) but when mixed into the sauce it was fantastic!

I use a smoke maze (like this) to turn an unlit BBQ into a cold smoker (the team at Whiskey n’ Cleavers turned me on to these years ago). They burn wood pellets (I used Alder) and work similar to incense other than you have to light the ends with a blowtorch! If you’ve never used a torch before don’t be worried – they really are no more difficult or scary than a proper BBQ lighter.

As I said before, if you’re going to make this recipe don’t worry about messing it up. Had I properly cold-smoked my ingredients above the onions would not be wilted/cooked. I smoked them as you see in the picture so the onions that wilted literally dropped into the tomato juice underneath it. Any small amount of charring on the ends just became more flavor.

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – the Smoke

To make this sauce I start with a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (plus their sauce) or 1 quart jar of home canned tomatoes. I dump them in a stainless steel bowl that I have reserved for smoking (even when clean it shows the sign of hanging in smoke for hours on end). I then add 20-25% of their volume of other ingredients. Green onions, some jalapeños, garlic, leeks, cheese, whatever you want. The key is to add lots of few ingredients (i.e. lots of onions but not lots of onions and lots of garlic and lots of cheese etc). If the other ingredients can be left somewhat exposed (like I did by resting them on the bowl), it will increase the amount of smoke they take on. I then smoke the ingredients under a heavy smoke for 6-8 hours. I take it out when it tastes a little TOO smoky for my liking (the next phases will mellow it out).

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – Assembling the Sauce

Once I have my main ingredients smoked I mix them in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until all of the ingredients are cooked soft (the bulbs were still a little firm coming out of the smoker). I add a healthy pinch of salt and blend the ingredients into the sauce and continue to reduce it until it thickens to the consistency I am looking for.

As the sauce reduces I add my final two ingredients – honey and apple cider vinegar. This is the magical part of the recipe! Instead of predetermining how much to add, I add a ratio – 2 Tablespoons honey to every tablespoon cider vinegar. I taste as I go. it usually takes 8-10 Tablespoons of honey and 4-5 of vinegar to become smoky, sweet and tangy but you may want to adjust to your own liking!

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – Bonus Tips

Here’s two tips that you can ignore if you’d rather (I know some prefer a recipe to be short and sweet):

  1. Adding a final touch of salt and a portion of honey and vinegar at the very end of the cooking process will really brighten the sauce.
  2. If the sauce is too smoky for you, you can add beer and cook it down to the thickness you prefer. This will significantly lengthen the process but add another layer of flavor and reduce the smokiness.

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – The Recipe in the Picture Above

Here’s what we did to make this sauce on the weekend:

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 28 Oz can plum tomatoes with juices (or a 1-quart jar of preserved whole tomatoes)
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 3 thick slices mozzarella cheese
  • Healthy pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 10 Tbsp honey
  • Also requires:
  • Cold smoker
  • Wood (we used Alder Pellets)
  • Stainless steel bowl for smoking
Instructions
  1. Light your cold smoker and allow it to build smoke while assembling ingredients.
  2. Pour tomatoes and sauce into stainless bowl. Drape with onions and rest cheese on top of that. Place in smoker and smoke for 6-8 hours.
  3. Carefully transfer ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium until onions are soft.
  4. Add a generous (1/2-1 tsp.) coarse salt.
  5. Blend into a sauce and return to a simmer over medium heat.
  6. As the sauce reduces, add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp honey and taste. Continue to add as it reduces, tasting as you go (as described above). Your taste preference may require more or less honey/vinegar.
  7. Taste and add salt if needed.
  8. Remember - you're a rockstar!

 

 

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Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-spruce-tips-recipe/ Tue, 30 May 2017 23:36:29 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24104 Spring has sprung! This is one of the best times of year to forage as there are so many options and there is little else coming up through the gardens and fields around us (with the notable exceptions of rhubarb and asparagus of course)! One of the easiest things to forage are spruce tips (the...

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Spring has sprung! This is one of the best times of year to forage as there are so many options and there is little else coming up through the gardens and fields around us (with the notable exceptions of rhubarb and asparagus of course)! One of the easiest things to forage are spruce tips (the soft new growth of the tree). There are many options to eat them including this pickled spruce tips recipe.

Spruce tips taste like a cross between rosemary and hops (the bitter taste you find in India Pale Ales/IPAs) although some will find the flavor that comes from the resin inside the tips to be harsh. You can soften their flavor by picking the smallest tips, soaking them in water for a few hours or transforming them into quick pickles where they take on a caper-like taste.

If you’ve never pickled before, stick with us – this recipe takes 5 minutes or less and will store on your shelf for months (and indefinitely in the fridge)!

When picking spruce tips you should know a few things:

  • You can pick them from any type of spruce tree you’d like. The blue spruce varieties tend to be stronger in flavour so I’d recommend you start with tender green tips.
  • The tips refer to new growth – this is a spring ingredient only. When the tips look and feel like the rest of the tree the season has passed you by.
  • When you pick a tip it will not grow back. You are best to pick 1 or 2 from each branch or pick in areas that are shaded by other branches and least likely to grow and pick a small amount from a number of trees rather than a large amount from a single tree.
  • You want to pick from a tree that is far enough from a road to avoid the tree absorbing runoff from local traffic.
  • Some people have a strong allergic reaction to spruce. You may want to test yourself with a small sample first.

Other than pickling spruce tips there are many things you can do/cook with them including:

  • Brewing beer (spruce beer is it’s own category of beer). The tips offset hops and create a bitter profile many love.
  • Eat them raw. This is especially true for the smallest tips which are very tender and mild in taste.
  • Infuse liquids by letting them soak (this is most common in water, vinegar or meat brines) to add a bitterness. They would be equally pleasant in something sweet like maple syrup or honey. Just submerge the tips and taste after a few hours and remove once you are happy with the flavor (for the sweet stuff you may want to wait a few weeks while the others should take a few hours on the counter).
  • Use in any recipe that calls for rosemary. Especially good with game and/or red meat and the flavors will pair well with the char flavor of a BBQ. They could also work to enhance the flavor of gravlax or bacon.
  • They are often chopped small and added to shortbread or muffins – I think cornbread would be a great pairing!

To pickle them you simply rinse them and cover them in a boiling brine made (mostly) of vinegar. The recipe below is very straightforward but note that I use ground black pepper in this pickle. While I use peppercorns for larger cucumber pickles I find that grinding it for this recipe will ensure you don’t bite into a spruce tip and accidentally chomp on a nugget of peppercorn!

In case you have no idea what you’d use these pickles for, here’s a few ideas:

  • Add a few spruce tips and a bit of the liquid brine to a Bloody Mary/Bloody Caesar.
  • Chop a few pickled spruce tips and add to a salad.
  • Eat alongside a sandwich, beer or salted nuts.
  • They are a great addition to a cheeseboard – the acidity and bitterness will be a pleasant contrast to the fat of the cheese.
  • Add a small touch of the vinegar to salad dressing, stir fries or brines to add a citrus-like acidity to whatever you are cooking.
  • Eat them out of the jar on a fork!

Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe

Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Quick Pickles
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 heaping TBSP honey
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 dried chilies
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 tightly packed cups spruce tips
  • 1 pint (500 ml) jar
Instructions
  1. Place the first 6 ingredients (everything BUT the spruce tips) in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. While the brine is heating, clean the spruce tips in a large bowl by rinsing in cold water.
  3. Pack the spruce tips in a mason jar.
  4. Once the brine reaches a boil, carefully pour into mason jar.
  5. Leave jar to cool on counter stirring 3 or 4 times in the first few minutes to ensure all spruce tips are submerged in the hot brine.
  6. Once cool cover with a lid. Will store in a cool dark place for months or indefinitely in the fridge (if it goes moldy you will know it has spoiled - otherwise this should be fine to eat).

What would you do with these?

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Pickled Fiddlehead Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-fiddleheads-lessons-learned/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-fiddleheads-lessons-learned/#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 11:11:58 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2980 We pickled fiddleheads on the weekend after plotting about them earlier in the month. Our trick for cleaning them was published here. I worked especially diligently in stuffing the jars tight.  I was actually feeling a compassionate twinge for how they were being treated when stuffing them in to the jars.  It was this rough...

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We pickled fiddleheads on the weekend after plotting about them earlier in the month.


Our trick for cleaning them was published here.

I worked especially diligently in stuffing the jars tight.  I was actually feeling a compassionate twinge for how they were being treated when stuffing them in to the jars.  It was this rough treatment that left me somewhat confused when I removed the jars from the hot water bath to find the contents floating in bring with very little solid ingredients at the bottom of the jar.

My dismay was short-lived.  Once the jars cooled I found that a quick shake of the jar dispersed it’s content and the jar became full again.  This is purely an aesthetic benefit but one that was important to me (after all, fiddleheads are just so darned cool looking).

It has also occurred to be that a quick blanching would allow the fiddleheads to become just a little more malleable and thus fit even more densely into the jars for next year.

Of note, a pound makes about 2 pints (approximately 4 cups or 1 litre/quart) of finished product.  At $6 per pound the price can add up in a hurry although my finished jars are still moderately priced at about $4 per jar.

This is an easy spring preserve. Similar to pickled asparagus you can use these in any dish you would eat relish with or use them as a pickle in their own right. Adding a bit of the brine to rice as it cooks (or mixing it into a Bloody Caesar/ Bloody Mary) is a great way to use it

Pickled Fiddleheads...
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pickles
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fiddleheads, cleaned per above
  • 1 large white onion, cut in half then sliced into ½ circles
  • 3½ cups white vinegar
  • 3½ cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 4 tsp black peppercorns
Instructions
  1. Prepare jars, lids and waterbath pot for canning.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, blanch fiddleheads for 3 minutes. Drain and cool with cold water.
  3. To make the brine, combine vinegar, water, salt and honey and bring to a boil.
  4. While the brine is heating, pack 4 500 ml (pint) jars with fiddleheads, and (in each jar) add 2 garlic cloves, ½ tsp chili flakes and 1 tsp peppercorns.
  5. Cover fiddleheads with brine, leaving ½ inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes before removing, cooling and wiping jars.
  6. Store out of direct sunlight and wait 2 weeks before eating the first one!

 

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Fiddlehead Soup Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/fiddlehead-soup_recipe/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/fiddlehead-soup_recipe/#comments Thu, 11 May 2017 11:56:47 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=13213 One of the things I most love about spring (especially late spring) is that it’s a shoulder season when it comes to ingredients.  Our pantry still has items common to our winter meals as well as some of the first items of the coming harvest.  This allows us to create combinations that are only possible...

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One of the things I most love about spring (especially late spring) is that it’s a shoulder season when it comes to ingredients.  Our pantry still has items common to our winter meals as well as some of the first items of the coming harvest.  This allows us to create combinations that are only possible a few weeks a year – such as this fiddlehead soup.

This is a play on two soups – potato leek and cheddar.  The combination is rich and it’s tough to believe there’s no cream used at all.

fiddlehead soup recipefiddlehea

Fiddlehead Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of peeled potatoes cut into cubes (you can use more if you'd like)
  • 1-2 cups of fiddleheads (clean them by cutting off the rough end and running them under running water for a few minutes)
  • 0.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar.
  • 1 Quart (liter) of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese (the older the better)
  • 2 onions chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (it's as much for flavour as it is for cooking)
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of herbes salees (or 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs of your choosing)
Instructions
  1. Line the bottom of a thick, tall stock pot with the olive oil, pepper and chili flakes and heat on medium-high.
  2. As the oil starts to smoke, drop the onions and fiddleheads into the oil. Stir often and cook for 90 seconds.
  3. Season with herbes salees and white wine vinegar.
  4. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Combine all ingredients, raise temperature to high and bring contents to a hard boil.
  6. After boiling for 2 minutes, reduce to a simmer and continue the cooking process until potatoes are soft.
  7. Using a hand mixer or blender, carefully mix everything until it reaches the texture you want.
  8. Taste and consider adding more salt, pepper or vinegar.
  9. Finish with cheese and stir until it melts into the soup.
  10. Top with grated cheese and enjoy!

Note: for a variation on this, you could easily replace 1/3rd to 1/2 of the water or stock with beer (I’d prefer something light in color like a lager or an ale but that’s up to you).

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A Trick for Cleaning Fiddleheads http://www.wellpreserved.ca/a-trick-for-cleaning-fiddleheads/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/a-trick-for-cleaning-fiddleheads/#comments Tue, 09 May 2017 09:52:30 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2963 Spring has sprung and that means we’ll soon be cooking fiddleheads in our kitchen! I used to avoid fiddleheads because the cleaning was so tedious (there are a lot of loose ‘bits’ of fern that most pick through to remove before cooking) but that changed when we came up with this idea for cleaning fiddleheads....

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Spring has sprung and that means we’ll soon be cooking fiddleheads in our kitchen! I used to avoid fiddleheads because the cleaning was so tedious (there are a lot of loose ‘bits’ of fern that most pick through to remove before cooking) but that changed when we came up with this idea for cleaning fiddleheads.

There are two parts to cleaning (three if you’ve foraged them):

  1. If they are foraged, many will have an kind of husk on them that is easy to remove though it`s a lot of work.  It`s remains affect you in step 3 below.  There`s not too many shortcuts for this step.
  2. Cutting a fresh cut on the stem.  This adds to the physical appearance of the jar and I believe it has to have a positive impact on taste (though you can treat that as a rumour).
  3. Removing the loose bits of fern that cling on to the fiddleheads increases flavor (as some of the `bits`may be dried or worse) and certainly creates a clearer brine.  This also applies to non-pickled fiddleheads of course too!

Our friend Margaret recently told me of people placing their crop on top of an old bed sheet and tossing them in a light wind.  Great idea but I was flying solo and had not wind.

Our solution to speed things up:

The technique:

  1. Place cooling rack (we use this one for preserves) on top of a pot with a small to medium amount of fiddleheads in it.
  2. Turn pot and rack upside down.
  3. Shake well over sink
  4. Flip everything over, give a rinse (even better if you can rinse on the rack – ours covers the entire sink so they drain right through.

It`s fantastically fast and removes a lot of extra work – any other tips or tricks out there?

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Introduction to Fiddleheads http://www.wellpreserved.ca/introduction-to-fiddleheads/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/introduction-to-fiddleheads/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 11:46:57 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2722 Fiddleheads are a big deal around here.  Dana loves them and I feel connected to my family when I eat them – my Mother is From Nova Scotia and these delightful little dudes and dudettes are staples in the Maritimes.  To cook them fresh is to briefly steam them; there`s nothing quite as good as...

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Fiddleheads are a big deal around here.  Dana loves them and I feel connected to my family when I eat them – my Mother is From Nova Scotia and these delightful little dudes and dudettes are staples in the Maritimes.  To cook them fresh is to briefly steam them; there`s nothing quite as good as a well-cooked vegetable and nothing quite as bad as it`s overcooked brethren.

Fiddleheads are essentially young ferns.  Make sure you `straighten` one out some time – you`ll get a far better understanding of what`s going on.  Fiddleheads disappear almost as quickly as they arrive as they are merely a small stop on the ride from sprout to fern.  Most of them will stretch toward the sun within a few weeks and lose their fractal appearance.

Most people cook them by steaming or boiling them though they are equally delicious when roasted in the oven or cooked on the BBQ, especially if you are using coal. Many insist they have to be well-cooked (some people can get an upset stomach if eating undercooked fiddleheads) but I’ve never found that to be an article. Cook them in any of the above methods and serve them with a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt and parmesan or cheddar. They can also be pureed into a soup

Once again, you can forage or buy these.  Some grocery stores carry them but they make a grand entrance at many farmer`s markets (including Wychwood, Brickworks and the St Lawrence Market in Toronto).  Foraging has obvious advantages ranging from price to personal satisfaction and one major disadvantage – you have to clean a small `scummy`husk off of them.  They are typically sold clean.  If you`ve never had them before, buy lots.  Lightly steamed with butter – I`m tempted to call them a better asparagus but I love it too much to do so.  🙂

Many people think of pickles as limited to cucumbers.  There are so many other options to explore, including fiddleheads (we’ll be publishing a recipe for pickled fiddleheads this month).  We pickled 6 pounds of garlic in September and we`re left with 3 jars – 1 is destined to a dear friend who loves garlic and if I don`t bring it to him soon he may have to wait until next year.  Pickled beans and asparagus are other sure-fire favourites.  They are great as a side dish, a treat from the fridge or added to a caesar.  We will definitely be trying fiddleheads this year.

I have decided to use a recipe from the Internet this year for our fiddleheads.  The source is an author named Langdon Cook; he wrote a book called the Fat of the Land which I am currently reading and adore.  Mr. Cook was an executive at Amazon.com before he decided to leave the corporate world and move off the grid to a small cabin with his wife and son.  His writing is great, informed and humble as he shares his successes and struggles while foraging in the Pacific Northwest. I believe he has the experience and knowledge which is why I`ll go with this one.  And his results look stunning!  Rather than steal a recipe, here`s a link.  Check out his blog – it`s a lot of fun.

Well that`s all for today`s post in our Preserving Spring series.  We are continuing to write one per day as a follow-up to the article in Edible Toronto.  We`re continuing to do one-a-day until complete and you can see the entire series by clicking here.

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Makdous – recipe inspired by Syrian Stuffed Eggplants Preserved in oil http://www.wellpreserved.ca/makdous-recipe-inspired-syrian-stuffed-eggplants-preserved-oil/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/makdous-recipe-inspired-syrian-stuffed-eggplants-preserved-oil/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:51:24 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24065 I learned of Makdous (Syrian eggplant preserved in olive oil) from the Syrian Cooking blog. They are traditionally made with baby eggplants and stuffed with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and served with almost any meal. My recipe is a big turn from tradition so I encourage you to go to the source to learn more...

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I learned of Makdous (Syrian eggplant preserved in olive oil) from the Syrian Cooking blog. They are traditionally made with baby eggplants and stuffed with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and served with almost any meal. My recipe is a big turn from tradition so I encourage you to go to the source to learn more about the traditional recipe as well as many great Syrian recipes.

Food is preserved in olive oil in many countries around the world. North American safety standards are far more cautious than many cultures and countries – for example, garlic left to marinate in olive oil on the counter is considered exceptionally risky and extremely dangerous in North America as the lack of oxygen created by the olive oil can create the perfect environment for botulism to thrive in. There are many countries worldwide who don’t have the same sense of caution with this recipe. I grew up in a house that routinely did this and can’t imagine doing it today – when I marinate garlic and olive oil I do so in the fridge and try to consume it within 10 days.

I mention the use of the fridge because it is the biggest variation in technique that I have made from the source. We transferred the jar of eggplant to the fridge immediately after covering with olive oil. What we gain in safety we lose in convenience and aesthetics – the cold temperatures of the fridge solidified the oil and made it cloudy at the same time. This is easily overcome by removing the jar or a few pieces of eggplant and allowing them to come to room temperature before serving.

I also opted for small, long eggplants because it is what was available. They fit very well inside a wide-mouth mason jar. I highly recommend packing them tightly to prevent floating. Stuff all of your eggplants before filling the jar – by waiting to fill the jar at the end it is easier to pack and keep the veggies from losing their filling.

This was indeed a messy recipe – and I’m a mess at the best of times! Using a big cutting board helped contain the mess and I recommend you doing the same.

Makdous - recipe inspired by Syrian Stuffed Eggplants Preserved in oil
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5-6 small, long eggplants
  • salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup walnut, chopped
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Place eggplants in boiling water and weigh them down (placing another pot on top will do) to prevent floating.
  3. Boil until slightly soft (they should still hold their shape when you hole them by one end. About 3-5 minutes.
  4. Transfer to an ice bath to cool.
  5. Trim each end of the eggplants to the length of the jar (I try to make sure they are shorter than the shoulder of the jar).
  6. Slit the eggplant like a hot dog bun, making sure not to cut in half. Place on a cookie sheet or a plate and liberally scatter with salt (including inside the slit). You want to use more salt than you'd cook with - this will help release the liquid and help the eggplant keep it's shape when marinating in olive oil).
  7. Place another cookie sheet or plate on top of the eggplant and cover with 5-10 cookbooks to help push the water out from the veg. Leave for 4-6 hours.
  8. Rinse the eggplant (including the insides) thoroughly to remove salt. You may want to taste the eggplant - if it's too salty continue to rinse (resist the urge to soak them as this can make them absorb the water you just removed).
  9. Combine the feta and walnut and carefully fill each eggplant. They will take more stuffing than you expect. Push firmly to 'close' the eggplant which will help it hold the stuffing in.
  10. Place any remaining filling at the bottom of a clean wide-mouth mason jar. Carefully add the eggplants and cover in olive oil. Transfer to fridge (read the note above about cloudiness/solidifying of the contents).
  11. After 5 days they will be ready and should be eaten within the next 5-10 days or frozen for longer storage.

 

 

A giant shout-out to our friend AJ Messier of Hogtown Studios in Toronto for working with us to shoot this months photos. He let us take over his studio for a day (I made a HECK of a mess!) and the 3 of us had a blast shooting and are so grateful for his talent and friendship. AJ often shoots sports, motion, weddings and other topics – head over to his site and check out his work!

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Libyan Quick Pickles – Mseyer http://www.wellpreserved.ca/libyan-quick-pickles-mseyer/ Tue, 14 Mar 2017 18:10:32 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24066 I first read about Msyer (Libyan quick pickles) on the Libyan Food blog. They were similar to many quick pickles that I make and I found it interesting that they also use lemon as part of their pickling acid. But the idea of using coriander, cumin and chopped parsley in a quick pickle was something...

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I first read about Msyer (Libyan quick pickles) on the Libyan Food blog. They were similar to many quick pickles that I make and I found it interesting that they also use lemon as part of their pickling acid. But the idea of using coriander, cumin and chopped parsley in a quick pickle was something entirely new to me.

I stuck close to the ingredients listed but changed the technique a fair bit. I’m a big fan of letting quick pickles sit in salt for a few hours to pull initial moisture out of them which adds to their texture and allows them to absorb the acid better. We also added a touch of honey for sweetness ], increased the amount of vinegar and cut it with water to cover the veggies with brine for quicker absorption. Although you can eat them after 6-12 hours they were even better a week later.

These pickles can be eaten with anything – Libyan Food recommends eating them with anything steamed and notes that they are used as an accompaniment to many dishes.They are full of flavor so subtler dishes  (such as white fish) may disappear when eating them. You may also want to back of the chilies but I love the hot stuff..

Libyan Quick Pickles - Mseyer
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into discs
  • 2 persian cucumbers, chopped into discs
  • 3 green chillies (to taste), chopped into discs
  • 1 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp parsley stems, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds (I love their crunch)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons plus their zest, chopped fine
  • ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Combine the carrot, cucumbers, chillies, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin and salt in a bowl and cover. Place on counter for 3 hours *you will notice that the salt will pull liquid from the vegetables).
  2. In a fine strainer (one that will prevent the coriander from escaping) rinse the vegetables until they don't taste overly salted (you can soak them for an hour if needed after rinsing).
  3. Bring cumin, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and water to a boil over high heat.
  4. Carefully pour boiling liquid over veggies in a heat proof jar (such as a mason jar) and allow to cool. Place in fridge for a minimum of 6 hours and taste will improve over next 4-7 days. Eat within 1 month.

A giant shout-out to our friend AJ Messier of Hogtown Studios in Toronto for working with us to shoot this months photos. He let us take over his studio for a day (I made a HECK of a mess!) and the 3 of us had a blast shooting and are so grateful for his talent and friendship. AJ often shoots sports, motion, weddings and other topics – head over to his site and check out his work!

 

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