Fermented Refrigerator Pickles

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Do you love pickles? Are you on the fence about pickles? I always liked pickles, but wouldn’t necessarily choose to snack on them. Ever since I first made these perfect peck of pickled cucumbers, I look forward to having them again every year. Perhaps the “fermented” part of the title drew you here. These are left on the counter for a couple days to sour, and then need to be kept in the refrigerator. The water-bath canning method would kill off any bacteria, so those cannot really be fermented.

I think if you are hesitant to make your own pickles, you should start with these. They are incredibly delicious. I love them, and I end up even fishing out the garlic pieces to munch on those when the cucumbers are all gone.

Let’s talk about what you’ll more or less need to make this delicious fermented food.

You’ll want some dill. Fresh seems to be quite easy to find for me this time of year at every grocery store I’ve been to, so I have that, but if you only can find dried dill weed and dill seed, use those. It’ll be amazing.

Oh, and those are grape leaves pictured above. I came across a little city-owned garden with grapes because I live in Idaho’s wine country now and I “borrowed” some leaves for my pickling project. I’ve never used grape leaves before, but I have read multiple times that it can help with texture due to the tannins.

Also, I am using pickling cucumbers here, but honestly regular cucumbers would work fine and I’ve done that in the past. You could slice them up, or just pack in maybe 4 or 5 into a large jar.

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Pickling spice is super easy to toss together yourself if you keep pungent seeds on hand.

This is 1 tablespoon each of mustard seed, peppercorns, coriander, dill seeds and then about 4 crushed up bay leaves because that is all I had left. I didn’t have any allspice berries, but I had a really old bag of allspice and I just tossed about 1/2 tablespoon in there. I like spice, so I also added in 1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

You will most definitely want garlic. Even if you think you don’t like garlic, it’s what gives these pickles that special flavor edge that store bought can never quite attain. You’ll want at least 2 heads of garlic.

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Water, vinegar, and salt are the other ingredients (besides cucumbers!) you’ll want to have on hand.

Boil approximately a quart of water, then let that cool all the way down to room temperature, then add in 4 giant tablespoons of salt and 3/4 cup of white distilled vinegar.

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Ready? Let’s get started.

I just read that it’s possible to get soggy, mushy cucumbers from some enzyme left from the blossom end of the cucumber. So I chopped off that end. Usually I would just leave them whole, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

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Into a very clean jar place a lot of dill into the bottom. I use a combination of the leaves and the heads with seeds on them.

Then pack in the cucumbers. It actually does help to stack them nicely. I lay the jar on its side and place them in. I had a few extra so I decided to make an extra small jar.

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Now it’s time for the spices! The allspice powder is not so appealing, but I love seeing all the seeds floating once I add the brine. Add in a bunch of garlic cloves. Yum! I took this opportunity to use any of the garlic cloves that looked like they might not make it through the winter due to damage from being dug up violently… Not by me.

To the half gallon jar I added 1 heaping tablespoon of the pickling spice, and the pint jar I added 1/2 tablespoon. I know that math doesn’t equate, but it’s what I did. There is probably a good 1 1/2 heads of garlic in the half gallon jar and about 1/2 head in the pint jar.

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If you have any access to grape leaves, add one or two of those in now.

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Perhaps you have a spicy pepper lying around waiting to be used? Yeah, slice that and throw it in, too.

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Now top this lovely concoction off with MORE DILL! Again, heads as well as leaves work well. My dill was not so fresh, but it still smelled divine and will do the trick.

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Now pour your prepared brine into the jars. Mine happened to be the perfect amount (must be my lucky day!) but if you need to make more brine, just do it and be patient.

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I’m going to place linen on the tops of these and let them sit on the counter for three days, and then taste them by slicing off a chunk. Once they are super tasty, place normal lids on them, and keep in the refrigerator.

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I may have also “borrowed” a few roses as well as some grapes.

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I couldn’t resist this bi-colored rose!

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Wine grapes are actually not very nice to eat as they are like 50% seeds inside.

Peace and love,

Kristan

 

High Summer Roasted Ratatouille

When I visited the farmer’s market a couple weekends ago, I was surprised to find eggplants. Usually they are only spotted in late August. At the same stand were tomatoes, zucchini, and onion, so my mind immediately dreamt of roasted ratatouille. It is one of my favorite meals, and I thought I could only enjoy it in late summer. Until now, that is.

The concept is very simple, and the result is way better than you could expect. I think you’d have to like eggplant though. Some people don’t, I understand, but I love it roasted. That’s my go-to plan for every vegetable I’m not sure what to do with: roast it!

Heat oven to 400°F.

To a large bowl add a tablespoon of minced onion, a tablespoon of tomato paste, 1/4 cup oil of choice, 5 minced garlic cloves, a heaping teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste, and some fresh or dried thyme.

Then add to the bowl 2 cups of sliced eggplant. Mine were the thin, long kind so they did not need to be diced at all. Also add 2 cups sliced zucchini, 1 large diced onion, and 1 cup of chopped tomatoes. You might be able to tell I added a few chili peppers into the mix to make it more spicy, but that’s totally optional.

Mix everything in the bowl to ensure all vegetables are coated.

Place onto a baking tray into a single layer and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to use a silicone mat for roasting. I have this one,  that’s really for pie, and just fold it in half for the large baking tray.

Near the end of the bake time boil water for pasta. I chose spaghetti, but it wasn’t really a choice as that’s the only pasta I had on hand. I get it at WinCo in the bulk section in my own bag. 🙂

Top the spaghetti with the roasted ratatouille and garnish with fresh basil and parsley. Optional to sprinkle with parmesan and / or pine nuts depending on how you’re feeling that day. I apparently didn’t want either of those this time.

The fresh herbs were from my garden, which made this meal mostly local! Food from Idaho is decidedly not boring. Oh, and I made that bowl with my own hands. 🙂

Please let me know if you make this meal and if you become as obsessed with it as I am!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream

There was an abundance of apricots.

Sweet, sensuous, apricots.

It’s too easy to forget the tastes of summer.

The way food is meant to be eaten, dripping down pinkies and chins, pooling into the nooks of the creaky wooden floors.

There is an urgency to it all. To enjoy to the fullest extent the tastes, sights, and sounds of the productive season. I’ve been blessed with some apricots in my house.

What could I make that would allow the true flavors of apricot to shine through?

I love jam. I have too much homemade jam. I like pie. Not enough. Traditional ice cream? Yessssssssssss.

This recipe is an adaptation of a few, and I took great liberties, so I suppose I can call it my own.

First, roast  10 medium – large apricots by slicing them and placing cut side up onto a roasting tray. Sprinkle with sugar, maybe a tablespoon to encourage caramelization.

Set oven to 375°F to roast. Turn the pan if needed, but don’t disturb the apricots.

This should take at least 30 minutes.

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This is the apricots before roasting. They will look almost melted and will have dark brown glaze dripping and pooling all around them.

The only other ingredients are pictured below: whole milk, cream, maple syrup, 2 eggs.

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In a small saucepan heat up 1 cup of maple syrup until just boiling, then turn it down to medium – low, add in the apricots and any liquid and let those simmer together for 10 minutes.

Then add in 1 cup of cream and 2 cups of whole milk. Add in a pinch of salt. Oops, that’s not pictured, sorry.

At this point, before the mixture gets too hot, use an immersion blender to blend in the apricots with the liquids. If you want larger chunks, blend lightly. Blend more for a smoother consistency, which is what I did.

Let the mixture come to a boil.

Whisk the 2 eggs in a bowl. Take a glass measuring cup and scoop some of the hot mixture to add in slowly to the eggs to temper them. Whisk while slowly streaming about a cup into the eggs. Repeat with another cup of the hot mixture, then the eggs should be tempered and ready to pour slowly into the hot boiling mixture.

Turn the heat down to medium – low and cook for about 3 minutes more. Wait until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Now place the mixture into a bowl and let it cool down. I set it on the counter for a while so that it wouldn’t heat up my refrigerator too much, then I placed it in the refrigerator overnight. I used some beeswax wrap to cover the bowl and it worked perfectly.

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The next morning I was ready to churn! I have a KitchenAid ice cream attachment which is nice because I don’t have to have a whole other appliance.

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Churning is fun! It might need scraped down at times.

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It should look thick when it is done.

Place into container of choice and back into the freezer to finish.

My sister said it was different and really yummy! I liked the slightly roasted flavor and felt it brought out a fuller, darker sweetness.

I have also made a vegan apricot-basil ice cream here.

Peace and love,

Kristan