The Lemon Vermouth Marmalade Experiment

Lemon Vermouth Marmalade-Putting Up with ErinLemon Vermouth Marmalade-Putting Up with Erin

“I suggest a sweet vermouth”, “I’d go with a dry white vermouth… Dolin Dry?”, “I agree, what about something like Cocchi Americano Bianco?”. Apparently it’s extremely easy to get booze based marmalade advice around Durham. Who would have thought? 😉 Tis the marmalade season and ’tis the booze based preserves season… Last week Marisa from Food in Jars announced a year long Mastery Challenge. As I just missed out on the Tigress Can Jam held back in 2010, I immediately jumped on the band wagon. Up first, marmalade… both a challenge for me as I’ve only made it once, and second because I knew I wanted to make it vermouth based. You may have noticed that the title of this recipe includes the word experiment. The struggle with booze based jams/jellies/marmalades is the loss of booze flavor during cooking, plus the inundant sugar necessary for a set. As my goal was to retain the vermouth flavor, I decided to play around with two different vermouths and two different marmalade processing methods. Plus, with nearly a foot of snow fall in Durham this week, I had plenty of time on my hands.

My initial hypothesis was that the 2 cups of sugar would overwhelm the flavor of a sweeter white vermouth (Cocchi Americano Bianco) and that the dry white vermouth (Dolin Dry) would offer a more pungent flavor backed by the lemon and sugar. To initially test this hypothesis I made two sugar, lemon juice, and vermouth drinks. Surprisingly, I was wrong, the Cocchi presented a stronger lingering flavor. For the first vermouth/method I followed Marisa’s small batch marmalade method found here. This resulted in a thicker consistency with less booze flavor. I figured that cooking the lemons for 55 minutes before processing them into marmalade caused too much vermouth flavor loss.

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Pickled Fingerling Potatoes

Pickled Fingerling Potatoes- Putting Up with Erin

Pickled potatoes? Ain’t ever heard of pickled potatoes? Yeah, me neither! An odd thought in my mind… “can you even pickle potatoes?” The gent was adamant about pickling potatoes, but after a couple “back and forth” discourses, and several web searches I eventually gave in. I realized the reason I’ve never heard of pickled potatoes is because people don’t typically pickle (not can) potatoes. Why? Well, there isn’t really a reason to preserve such an abundant, long-fridge life crop. That is unless you’re an Irishman in 1845… too soon? 🙂

Anyways, going for a simple german potato salad kind of thing, we paired this quick fridge potato pickle with some sliced red onion and fresh carrots. Similar to pickled eggs, the longer you let your potatoes pickle, the stronger flavor you’ll get. This batch sat for 3 weeks before I started taste testing. Fingerling potatoes courtesy of Harland’s Creek Farm, a small organic farm located 4 miles outside of Pittsboro, NC.

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Turmeric & Curry Pickled Turnips

Turmeric & Curry Pickled Turnips- Putting Up with ErinTurmeric & Curry Pickled Turnips- Putting Up with Erin

Happy 2017!! What better way to kick of the new year and nurse the morning after hangover than with some good ol’ pickling. With black eyed peas and collards on the range, bursts of rain outside, and aromas of wood fired stoves burning around my Durham neighborhood, I figured I’d set aside this 1st day of the year to catch up on some blogging. I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. After spending several days with the folks, we headed down to Charleston to eat, drink, and play stupid tourists. Charleston was amazing. Impressed by the old culture, houses, and history that Charleston has to offer, I also found myself up to my ears in pickled goodies. Known as the 1st foodie town of the South, I was not entirely surprised when I found pickles on most of if not all of the menus. My indulgences ranged from pickled giardiniera at Edmund’s Oast to fried pickles at Bar Mash, and a tart and sweet pickled green tomato martini at The Grocery. After three days doing little other than eating and drinking, even this girl was looking forward to a detox diet.

The weekend before last, I visited the Carrborro Farmers’ Market for the 1st time. What makes Carrborro’s market different from the rest is that the actual owner of each business or farm is present at Market each week. So it’s basically as local as it gets! While the summer market probably boasts many more vendors and goodies than the chilly winter market, I still managed to score a couple pounds of tiny turnips from  Maple Spring Gardens, a farm located in Cedar Grove, NC. I consulted my girlfriend Kristen who suggested an Indian flavored pickle (not like the ones I’ve sworn off). I decided to pair these lil’ turnips with some fresh turmeric, ginger, red onion slices, and curry powder. Enjoy!

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Five Spice Fennel

Five Spice Fennel- Putting Up with Erin

Five Spice Fennel- Putting Up with Erin

As story goes, fennel is good for healthy vision and sight. I remember days past when hiking through the Central Coast California foothills, smelling the aroma of wild anise. Personally, until I tasted German black licorice, I always detested the smell, flavor, and sight of black licorice, commonly confused with the the flavors of anise. Turns out that the very wild anise that I was dismissing may in fact have been wild fennel. Wild fennel is apparently an invasive species in much of North and South America, South Africa, and parts of Oceania and the British Isles. Check out the USDA Plants Database to see if it’s found near you, cool!

Above the lower plants it towers,

The Fennel with its yellow flowers;

And in an earlier age than ours,

Was gifted with the wondrous powers,

Lost vision to restore.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1892)

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Jalapeño Dill Pickled Eggs

Jalapeño Dill Pickled Eggs-Putting Up with Erin

Jalapeño Dill Pickled Eggs-Putting Up with Erin

It always makes me laugh when I see that my most popular blog post of all time is pickled eggs. Guess I caught that Sriracha fad at the perfect moment. Have you ever ordered a pickled egg (I’m not talking the marinated tea eggs you get at Asian restaurants) and found it to be bland, lacking the punch of vinegar and pickle goodness that you were hoping for? Me too! Pretty much every time. In my experience, when ordering a pickled egg from your typical fancy food establishment, it downright sucks! Sucks because they didn’t let it pickle long enough, or sucks because their vinegar to water ratio was too low. Fast forward to last night when the gent pleaded, “I understand that we live in a tiny house with a stupid tiny fridge, but why don’t you make some pickled eggs? Pickled spicy eggs? Oh, I’ll make them, can I make the pickled eggs?!” Once I reigned in his excitement, I suggested we pair fresh dill with multicolored jalapeño peppers and some garlic. To ensure that spiciness, we infused the brine with red pepper flakes first. Regarding time needed to properly pickle an egg, I have found that a healthy balance of patience and eagerness is needed. The first time I made pickled eggs, I ate them all within 2 weeks. I remember kicking myself thinking, “I should have let those pickle for like 3 more months.” With this batch I’ll try to keep my hands out of the pickle coop for at least 1 month. We’ll see…

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