Difficulty Level Easy
We are starting a new series at Planet Green called Preserving the Harvest which will give you some ideas about what you can do with the fruits and vegetables that you've been growing yourself, or that you've picked up at the farmers' market. This is a new thing for me, so I'll be learning alongside the Planet Green readership. Like most people of my generation, I've always bought jams and pickles rather than make my own. I did make two attempts at canning about 25 years ago; I made some raspberry jam which worked beautifully and some peach preserves which blew up in the jars. After that I went back to the grocery store.
Historically, housewives in Ontario "put up" preserves for two very good reasons. First, even a modest vegetable garden can produce enormous yields that would otherwise rot and secondly, if you didn't your family would starve by January. Even my mother, who was the epitome of the 60's suburban housewife with all the modern conveniences available, made her own chili sauce and mustard pickles. It seems to me that as people start to worry about increasing food prices and food availability, we are looking back at what our grandmothers and great grandmothers did and seeing the virtue in providing for our families ourselves.
This brings me to my first attempt at canning: Jerusalem Artichoke Pickles. I was looking for something interesting and local to serve at my big dinner party earlier this month when I stumbled upon this recipe. It was the perfect recipe for me. Jerusalem artichokes were available at my farmers' market each week; the pickles only needed to sit for a week before eating; I didn't have to go through a big sterilizing effort; they were easy.
I had absolutely no idea what these would taste like, so the night before the big party we cracked open the jar and were delighted to discover that they were delicious. They were a bit too crunchy for my daughter and she thought I should have cooked them a big longer, but she loved the taste. Certainly my dinner guests ate the entire bowl that I put out with my appetizers. I used an old 33 ounce pickle jar and the recipe fit into it perfectly and so I didn't need to worry about keeping them submerged and stirring them. Once the jar is opened, put it in the refrigerator for up to a month.
|2 Tbsp||fresh lemon juice|
|2 lb||Jerusalem artichokes (also called Sun Chokes)|
|1 3/4 cups||distilled white vinegar|
|1/2 Tbsp||whole mustard seeds|
|1/2||large sweet onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced|
- Stir lemon juice into a large bowl of cold water. Peel Jerusalem artichokes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Transfer as cut to acidulated water to prevent discoloring.
- Bring vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne, and 1 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Cool brine to room temperature.
- Cook Jerusalem artichokes and onion in a large pot of boiling water 1 minute. Drain and spread out on a kitchen towel to cool. Put vegetables in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour brine over them. Weight vegetables with a small plate to keep submerged, then cover bowl tightly. Chill, stirring once or twice a day, at least 1 week to allow flavors to develop.
From Gourmet, June 2008
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