Pickles and preserves

Tomato Sauce Farmer-Style

Here's a quick description of how we make our sauce here, the short-cut way. We like to do just tomatoes, and then add our other sauce ingredients like onions, carrots, frozen peppers, garlic etc. in the winter when we go to use the sauce. Then you can make anything you want with it, from spaghetti sauce to tomato soup.

  1. We get lots of tomatoes and wash them and cut out the stem parts and bad spots.
  2. Then chop them in large chunks and puree them, skins, seeds and all in the blender or food processor.
  3. Then put the puree in a big pot, and bring to a boil then simmer on low, stirring, until you get the thickness you want. The real key is having a good pot with a thick bottom that will keep stuff from sticking and burning on the bottom, and keeping an eye on it. A stirrer with a flat bottom edge that you can swipe across the bottom of the pan is great.
  4. Once you have your thickness, you can it, using the boiling water method, 30 to 45 minutes or whatever your how-to-boiling-water-bath info source says. We're a big fan of the wide mouth quart jars -easier to clean later on.

Here's a great resource for canning recipes and methods: The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Varieties of Tomatoes for Sauce
You can make really flavorful sauces from mixed heirloom varieties. Heirlooms may take a little bit longer to cook down, but the flavor is great. Paste or Saucing Tomatoes have less juice and cook down faster, and also taste really good. I make big batches with the paste tomatoes, and then I like to make some batches with certain varieties of tomatoes, like an all Brandywine Sauce, and a sauce with only white, yellow and orange tomato varieties. Red Slicing types are great for salsa, and can also make good sauce with a little longer cooking time than with paste varieties.

From Sarah Voiland, 2011.

SOFRITO

Sofrito is a delicious flavoring substance that is classic in Puerto Rican cooking. You add it to anything from rice and beans, to soups and slow cooker dishes, to omlettes, to sauces for meat dishes. Once made, sofrito freezes really well in ice cube trays or other portion-sized containers for winter!  It will also keep well in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

1 onion
1 green pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp oregano (more if fresh)
2-4 tbs olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp capers (opt.)
1-3 hot peppers (opt.)
1-2 roasted red peppers (opt.)
a few to a bunch of pitted olives (opt.)
Other optionals: black pepper, cayenne, paste tomatoes, cumin, culantro, annatto, celery, parsley, and many more!

No hard and fast recipe here! Something to play with! Multiply recipe for winter freezing. Wash, deseed, trim as needed. Chop into large chunks. Put all in blender, in batches if need be. Mix everything in a bowl at the end if you did batches. Then refrigerate and freeze for later use. Or use some now!
To use, put some in a pan with oil and saute to meld the flavors before adding rice to boil or whatever it's in your plans to make.
Lovely with red peppers too!

From Sarah Voiland, 2011.

Spiced Pickled Summer Squash

2 lbs zucchini or summer squash
2 medium onions
¼ cup kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1+ cup sugar
2 t. mustard seed
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. celery seed
1 sliver fresh ginger

Place the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, ginger, red pepper, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sliced onions and bring to a boil. Pack canning containers tightly with squash and fill with hot brining liquid. Submerge closed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

From Red Fire Chef Kristen Schafenacker, 2007.

Bread and Butter Pickles

3 large cucumbers, sliced 1/3 cup sugar
2 onions, sliced 1/2 tsp celery seed
1 Tbs. salt 1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 cup white vinegar

Use fresh cucumbers; wash and slice. Slice onions. Mix vegetables with salt and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse with 2 cups cold water. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery and mustard seeds and heat to boiling. Cook 3 minutes.
Pack vegetables into jars (2-3 pint wide-mouthed jars), add hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/4" headspace. Seal at once and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and store.

'Quickles' (aka refrigerator pickles)

1 lb. Pickling cucumbers
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 T sugar
2 T kosher salt
1 t. mustard seed
1 t. whole peppercorns
1⁄2 t. red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh dill
5 cloves garlic, peeled

Evenly divide the garlic, dill and cucumbers among
four wide-mouthed pint jars. You can cut up the pickling cukes however you want, from slices to halves, etc. (smaller slices soak up the flavor faster). You can pack as many cukes into the jars as possible, even more than the recipe calls for if there's space.
In a bowl, mix together vinegar, water, red pepper flakes, salt, mustard seed and dill seed to make a flavored brine. Use a funnel to fill each jar with brining liquid. If the cukes aren't mostly covered, you can add a little more cold water and shake it up. Cap tightly and refrigerate at least one week before eating (or eat some right away and every day after, to see what they're like:).

Freezing Summer Squash

Grate summer squash or zucchini or cut into slices. (Food processors are great here.) Blanch for 3 minutes. Toss into a strainer and rinse with cold water until cooled. Store in a freezer bag, in the freezer!

   Many folks don't blanch the grated version, and it preserves well. If you have a zucchini bread or other recipe you really like, freeze measured bags in the quantity that recipe requires.

Pesto

Putting up pesto for winter is a great idea when basil is plentiful.  Once made, pesto freezes really well in ice cube trays or other portion-sized containers.  We have bulk basil available for ordering and also basil and parsley in the PYO patch.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup parsley sprigs
1/3  cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/3  cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

   In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until desired smoothness is reached.  Have with fresh diced tomatoes on pasta or a sandwich.

  Watermelon Rind Pickles

4 quarts cubed watermelon rind
1 gallon cold water
1 cup canning salt
2 cups vinegar
7 cups sugar
1 T whole cloves
1T whole allspice
¼ teaspoon mustard seed
3 sticks cinnamon
½ cup sliced lemon (about 1 medium

Pare watermelon rind, removing green and pink portions. Cut rind into 1 inch pieces. Dissolve salt in water, add rind and let stand 6 hours or overnight

Combine vinegar, lemon slices, sugar, and spices in a cheesecloth bag in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes.
Add rind and simmer until transparent. Remove spice bag Pack rind into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Pour hot liquid over rind, leaving ¼ inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process pints 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yield about 6 pints.

Source: Ball Blue Book, Alltrista Corporation

Freezing Peppers

   Freezing peppers is the easiest preserving you can do! Just core out the seeds and cut out any bad spots, chop to your desired size, and freeze. No blanching needed. This is true of all types of peppers, green, colorful, hot, whatever you've got.
   We just quickly chop them into big sections that are flat for fitting more in the freezer, and then cut those up to whatever size when we take them out for use.

   And they are really great color and flavor to have later in the winter chopped up into sauces and stirfrys.
Freezing peppers ready for stuffing is really great also because they don't need all the baking time to soften. Doing Jalapenos like that for filling with cream cheese is quite tasty :).

Roasted Peppers

Heat broiler on high. Roast peppers whole on a sheet pan for 10 minutes. Rotate browned peppers and broil another 10 minutes. Throw into a pot and cover. When cool to handle, slip most of the skin off, de-stem and de-seed. Store in olive oil in the fridge or serve immediately.

Preserving Eggplant

Blanching and freezing eggplant is probably the best way to keep some of your excess summer eggplant around for mid-winter eggplant parmesan.  If you don’t have freezer space, dried eggplant can be made like dried tomatoes to be used later in soups or stews.  For anyone interested in making their own jars of roasted eggplant in olive oil, it can be done, but is at higher risk of contamination so should be made and consumed with caution.

Freezing Eggplant

Set aside a bowl of cold water. Cut the eggplant in half inch slices or strips and submerge in boiling water. This may be difficult since eggplants like to float, but be creative in keeping them underwater. When the water returns to a boil, wait 40 seconds and then remove and dump them in the cold water to stop all cooking. Place eggplant on a cookie tray and place in the freezer until eggplant is frozen. Frozen eggplant can now be bagged up and individual slices can be removed and defrosted for any of your midwinter cooking needs.

Drying Eggplant

For this method, you’ll want smaller pieces of eggplant so ½ inch cubes might be a good size. Blanch the cubes as in the instructions for freezing eggplant above and then place on tray and leave in a dehydrator for 4-6 hours or until dry. Store in tightly closed jars. They will rehydrate to almost normal when cooked.