Hello from a really really hard floor at Chicago Midway airport. The hard floor next to an electrical outlet… oh the pains I endure to bring you pickle goodness. What better time than a three hour layover to write about pickles and catch up on blogging? What’s new with all of you? Falling into autumn? I’d love to hear what everyone is putting up these days. The Durham Farmers’ Market is phasing out its peppers and beans and moving on to squash, squash, and more squash. I get that I live in the southern growing belt now and that produce is bound to show up earlier than I was accustomed to in New England… but butternut squash in August!? It’s like seeing Halloween candy in September, which consequently means that the beautiful days of summer are coming to an end.
Speaking of squash, can we talk about the curious green markings of these locally sourced squash… from Meadow Lane Farm, these Zephyr squash appear to be a hybrid of summer and zucchini squash. “Delicious nutty taste and firm texture. Straight-neck fruit is as attractive as it is delicious… High yields and plenty of blossoms so you can enjoy both fresh fruit & fried squash blossoms!” This time last year I put up a batch of pattypan and pepper squash pickles. Here I decided to mix these squash coins, a couple hot citrus peppers (Four Leaf Farm), some fresh cilantro, coriander seeds, and garlic slivers. OK. We are boarding… Till next time.
Two and a half weeks since I’ve canned and apparently I’ve returned to newbie status of breaking jars! Breaking the bottom off of quart jar is not only inconvenient in that you risk the loss of your pickled veggies, but also because this ill-fate forces you to dump your canning water before processing the remainder of your jars. So it goes… plus, it’s a good reminder that just because I can all the time, doesn’t mean I’m a canning badass that can rush or skip steps. On the topic of not canning for several weeks, comes the struggle of trying to keep up the local and in-season integrity of this here blog. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a year round weekly farmers’ market, awesome for you (cough… CA, MD… and all the other places I’ve lived). Here in seacoast New Hampshire, the local farmer association switches off the bi-weekly location of the market. With the holidays, snow, etc. I really haven’t had the access to local, fresh, and in-season goods.
This past Saturday, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we made it to the Exeter, NH location of the market. After several laps around the high school lunchroom, I decided these Brookford Farm squash and parsnips (recipe later this week) were good post-break pickle ingredients. I feel that with winter root (and non-root) veggies, that pickling flavors become a bit tricky. No longer does ones have access to fresh and local herbs/seeds. Last winter I put up some ginger pickled butternut squash, being somewhat un-familiar with squash varieties, Keith suggested that I use carnival squash as it exhibits a sweeter flavor than it’s butternut cousin. People always assume that I have a well-thought-out plan when thinking up recipes. Quite the opposite really, typically the way things go is 1) wander aimlessly around the market distracted by everything and everyone, 2) pick whatever is in season, 3) get home and muse over the ingredient for a day or two, 4) open the spice drawer, and finally 5) hope that the resulting canned good is amazing, which I confess isn’t always the case. I knew I wanted to do something sweet and spicy, yet simple, with these carnival squash. Garam masala + brown sugar + hot pepper = weirdly perfect. Enjoy these masala habanero pickled squash wedges as is or serve them as a sweet side to any Indian main dish.
Happy Monday! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. As usual, mine was ridiculous, unplanned, and by no surprise, all over the place. I’m not exactly sure if I can attribute the craze to the Supermoon, but I can assure you that the perigee-syzygy tidal wave of energy manifested itself through a late night canning bonanza this past Saturday. Stay tuned for a slew of new recipes plus a friend featured deployed goods post later this week (hint: gluten free… peanut butter.. chocolate… blueberries…)
While I was downtown last weekend scouting out Pickwick’s at the Banke, the venue for next weekend’s Seacoast Food Swap, I found myself thumbing through the crisp new pages of several cookbooks when all of a sudden a tiny book printed with the word “PICKLE” caught my eye. One of a kind amongst tons of other colorful culinary prints, it was as if it we were meant to be. I can easily envision a downward spiral full of hoarding tendencies, so typically I try not to buy too many pickling/canning recipe books. It may have been the 3 cups of coffee or my excitement over the new venue, but I couldn’t resist… the size, the aesthetic, the elastic band… oh boy… Pick a Pickle by Hugh Acheson had to be mine. A great find, Pick a Pickle is a swatchbook containing 50 tangy pickle, condiment, relish, and fermented recipes that would be a perfect addition to both a well seasoned canner’s collection and a newbie pickler’s library alike.
Whether it’s the crisp fall ambiance and fireplace aromas, or the obvious fact that I grew up in a relatively season’less part of California, every year I find myself “jumping the gun” on root veggies the minute tree leaves begin to color in Maryland. “Goodbye brightly colored tomatoes, peppers, and herbs… hello earth-toned cornucopia of pumpkins, potatoes, squash, and yams!” Reminded that root vegetables would soon dominate the local scene, I held off and began compiling my harvest inspired recipes. I decided that this fall I would stray a bit into alternative pickling and preserving of fall/winter crops (after all the goal of this blog is to keep up with the hobby year round). Returning home from a weekend away in New Hampshire and Maine (see trip photos here), I pulled out my recipe queue, category: pickling. With several pounds of butternut squash, I decided to try the trusted Joy of Pickling’s Crisp Pickled Pumpkin recipe. I modified the original recipe by doubling it and swapping out pumpkin for butternut squash.
I’d be curious to hear what you guys think. Do you typically lean towards more savory or more sweet squash recipes?
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