Wow. Nothing makes folks line up like a free anything, really smokes ’em out of the dark corners. Where have all you people been? I have to give you something (besides wise ass mama wisdom) for you to make yourselves known? Note to new commenters: stick around. Don’t be a stranger.
So far 24 of you poor sops have lined up with your cute little ‘pick me, pick me’ stories. Lucky for you, Harriet Fasenfest is a terrible capitalist. The whole point here was to promote her dvd so that you people would go out and buy it. As in, spend your hard earned money on it and make the world go round. But she left a note in amongst the pleas, err– comments, that she would donate 10 dvds to the greater cause of Getting Folks into the Preserving Kitchen.
Harriet. You need to go watch some F*x News. Money, and the exchange of it in a competitive capitalist system, is what is going to save us from economic catastrophe. Are you trying to sabotage America? Go now, do your due penance.
I thought I’d leave the comments open on the giveaway for a few more days, in case there are some worthy mamas too busy wiping noses, asses and floors to check in here.
In the meantime, since you all seem to be clamoring for some spark in the preserving department, I thought we’d do a little excercise. Refrigerator pickles. Just about the easiest preserving project I can think of, and a good gateway drug.
Not to taunt anyone, but summer is here in New Orleans– the cucumbers I planted along the front fence at our new fantabulous house are starting to come on. I’m so excited! The 3YO is a pickle fiend, and so naturally I planted a pickling variety of cukes. But don’t be put off, you can pickle any kind cucumber or any other vegetable for that matter.
Eventually you’ll learn how to make pickles fermented the old fashioned way or canned with vinegar. But for a first timer, refrigerator pickles are the easiest of all. There is nothing whatsoever to fear. You can make a single jar if you just want to test your meddle. No sterilization is required. The results are pretty predictable. This is basically just like marinated cucumbers, and they last for months.
So. You. Print this page out. Go buy some thin skinned cucumbers, or asparagus or whatever your fave pickled veg is (brussel sprouts anyone?) and a big jug of apple cider or plain white vinegar. Find a jar with a lid in your cupboard, any old jar. Maybe two.
Cut your cukes however you like, I do lengthwise quarters. Pack them, cold and raw, into your jar. Peel two cloves of garlic and throw those in along with some fresh or dried dill weed and pickling spices if you have them. Boil 1 cup vinegar, 3 cups water and 1/4 cup non-iodized salt and pour over cukes.
You can taste one after a few days if you want, no harm, except that they don’t taste like much right away. They’re overly salty and not sour enough. I suspect some small fermentation is happening because they get sourer over the next month or so.
There! You’ve made pickles! See? Thus emboldened, aren’t you ready to take over the world?
There were a few comments about fermenting, so I feel compelled to offer what I think is an essential piece of advice. I haven’t done all that much fermenting, but sometimes beginners give the best beginner advice. So here it is– Taste your ferment every single day, no cheating. Ferments are living things, constantly growing through their own lifecycle. My beloved Sandor Katz might like his sauerkraut at every age, but it took me some failures to find out that I myself only like it fresh out of high school. Bright, slightly tart, perky, thinking it knows everything. The window is narrow, and if I don’t taste my kraut every day, or even twice a day, I’ll miss it. Once it gets ripely satisfied with life, and humbles down to a softer, skunkier flavor, I just don’t like it anymore. Another day or two in this heat and it’s a disgusting mess. Fermenting is easy, getting the flavor you want out of your ferment is a bit trickier. Timing is everything!
As far as canning, I’ve done it all. I even wrote a two part zine article on it, back in the day. I wrote a post on canning jam the super easy way on my last blog Subsist/Resist. Apart from figs and tomatoes, there’s nothing to worry about when canning fruit. The worst that can happen is you lose a jar to mold. Really. Go fuck around. Have fun. You can break a lot of the rules if you want, so long as you’re canning fruit and don’t mind risking a botched jar. But if you follow the rules, you’ll definitely be fine.
Pressure canning is certainly more complicated, and important to get right. But those things are gold! If you have one, the world is your oyster. Low acid foods are not the place to wing it, but follow the instructions and you’ll be completely safe. Believe me, the USDA has made sure the rules cover all levels of intelligence. If you have any questions, ask me! Really! Email me at scarletfevir (at) yahoo. If I had my pressure cooker here in New Orleans I’d do a big post about it.
Culinate has a more thorough refrigerator pickle recipe, if you want more details. Non-iodized salt is easy to get at any grocery store. Pickling salt, kosher salt or sea salt are all good. Though there are some iodized sea salts. It will say right on the label, no tricks. Pickling spices too are easy to find in any spice section.
Cut! Boil! Pour! Refrigerate! Enjoy!