When I started this blog post the plan was to give a very brief history of muscadine grapes, their health benefits, and their history. One wiki search later and I quickly realized, “oh man, there is a lot to learn, and love, about these medium-sized, funny textured grapes!” So, where to start?
“Of the bounteous store of natural gifts… upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the muscadine grape…” Discovered (not really as it was already growing in nature) in 1755, the muscadine grape (commonly referred to as a scuppernong) was first cultivated in North Carolina. Much less common than your typical market grapes, muscadine grapes offer a wealth of nutrition from bowel regulating (think fiber), to weight management (think fiber again), and rich in antioxidants. “One study… found that muscadines are a particularly good source of ellagic acid…. appears to inhibit cancer cell reproduction… Muscadine grapes also contain twice as much vitamin C as seedless grapes.”
Brinkley Farms got themselves a lady friend… and she’s adorable. You’ll often find me pouring over the southern hospitality and drawls of the Brinkley Farms market boys. But, this past Saturday at the Durham Farmers’ Market this vendor shot me a huge smile as I walked by. I instantly knew I wouldn’t be passing up their Creedmor grown okra. Fresh, green, and beautiful, I scooped up 4 pints to play with. Pickled okra, the perfect southern treat. Loving the flavor combination of the tarragon and vinegar, I decided to experiment here with tarragon and fresh dill. Herby goodness delivered.
Slimy pickled okra… the horror! In pickling okra there is always the fear of slimy pickled okra. Normally I don’t water bath process with the hopes of avoiding the slime. I was recently invited to participate as a judge in the upcoming Stone Brothers‘ Piedmont Pickle Pageant. Discussing the ins and outs of the contest, the pageant convener decided it was only appropriate that we do a little pickle tasting. First up, water bath canned pickled okra. I admit, I initially jumped to slimy conclusions. But, the texture wasn’t slimy at all and I figured, “hell, maybe I should try canning them again”. I present to you slime free tarragon & dill okra pickles!
“Erin, can you teach me how to pickle?!” Music to my freaking ears! Last weekend, my very first best friend paid me and the Lil’ house a 6 day visit. Albeit not much privacy (“it’s not like I haven’t seen your butt before”), the visit was awesome. A lot of yoga, a lot of booze, and a whole lot of rain. Perfectly timed with her visit, we tried not to let hurricane Joaquin ruin our weekend fun. As we were stuck inside for most of the time, we figured Sunday was fit for an impromptu pickling session. Using a couple pounds of red onions acquired from Hurtgen Meadows Farm in Hillsborough, NC, fresh tarragon from Maple Spring Gardens, and a habanero peppers from Four Leaf Farm we put up these beautifully colored red hot onion pickles.
Dirty thirty? Thirty and flirty? What other things do people say when you turn that ripe old age of 30? Yep, today is the day, and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve had no anxiety leading up to today. Media and society has a tendency to paint turning 30 as a turning point in a woman’s life: “she should probably have her ducks in a row”… “after 30 it’s harder to stay fit”… “after 30 dumb life decisions should be avoided”… “her body begins to look like her mothers’”… and that “she is reaching her… cough… peak”! The past year has been pretty epic, tons of big changes, TONS of fun, and tons of figuring out what makes me tick/happy. While I don’t see my 30th year being all that different than my 29th, I do feel that I can chock the past year up to “getting it out of my system”. We will see… ha.
Hello August! Mid-summer crops (or what I’ve always considered mid-summer crops elsewhere) have finally arrived here in the North East United States. The local farmers’ markets are effectively overflowing with fruits, veggies, colors, and smiles. Since the beginning of the summer farmers’ market season here in Portsmouth, I’ve found myself so focused on finding new canning ingredients that I rarely buy any produce for my own meal and personal consumption. “I’ll take three pounds of eggplant (for pickles), four pounds of cucumbers (for pickles), and two pounds of onions (for pickles)… awesome!”… only to realize mid-week that I have nothing to cook for dinner and having to make a trip to the local grocery store for sub-par produce (dumb). This past Saturday, following my routine pickling stroll (canvas bag already packed full of ingredients), I decided to do another a lap around the market wherein I would only buy produce for this weeks’ dinners: carrots, corn, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. Not a bad market haul if you ask me, now if only I can keep my veggie priorities straight. What type of market items did you bring home this week?
I personally could die a happy pickle eater… cough… pickler if the world consisted of only pickled carrots, beets, cauliflower, and string beans. With perhaps the exception of straight up dill pickles, for the sake of variety, it’s pretty rare that I put up the same thing twice. The problem is that there’s only so many ways you can swing a string bean. I came across these beautiful yellow wax beans at the Wake Robin Farm booth last weekend and immediately started flipping through my mental pickle recipe rolodex… basil beans (done it), curry beans (done it), dilly beans (done it), old bay beans (done it)…. and then I remembered these tarragon beans from Linda Ziedrich’s book The Joy of Pickling. Aside from adding tarragon, I more or less winged it with this wax bean recipe. Enjoy these tarragon pickles aside seafood, fruits, poultry, or eggs. I’d love to hear about other varieties of pickled beans that you’ve put up.
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