Pros: Variety of preservation methods, well explained
If you have ever had a garden or fruit tree, then you have probably been in the situation where you have a sudden bounty of ripe fruits or vegetables - far more than one family could eat immediately. The book “Preserve It!” by Lynda Brown offers a solution. This book goes far beyond basic canning recipes to include many other preservation methods, such as: freezing, smoking, drying and fermentation (Beet Wine, anyone?).
The variety of methods really appealed to me. I haven’t ever contemplated making my own cider or cured meats, but the author’s straightforward, step-by-step approach makes these methods much less intimidating. The book has plenty of recipes, but also lists of tips for each method and charts for flavor suggestions and ways to handle various produce.
Do you have left over herbs? Freeze them in a little water in an ice cube tray. Tired of making jam with extra berries? Then try preserving them in syrup or brandy instead.
Brown also covers some basic storage guidelines. Some varieties of squash, apples, tomatoes, pears and root crops can be held fresh for months if stored properly.
Since my fruit trees are already done for the year, I decided to try the recipe for Italian-style vegetables in oil. Looking at the picture, it made me think of Giardiniera whish is something I am quite fond of. The recipe allows for a variety of vegetables to be used, so I just took what I already had in the kitchen. This method was very quick and allowed for a bit of personalization. I chose to use shallots, celery and bell peppers with the oregano and hot pepper seasonings.
Though I had to wait a week for the batch to season in the fridge, the final results were delicious. These will taste great on a sandwich and next time I plan to up the hot pepper.
Italian-Style Vegetables in Oil
Makes approximately 1 ½ jars
Takes 30 minutes
Keeps 1-2 months, refrigerated
1 ¼ lb mixed seasonal vegetables (e.g. eggplants, fennel, romanesco florets, zucchini, small shallots, celery, carrots, green beans, peppers, button mushrooms)
Approximately 2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
approximately ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Seasonings - choose from:
1 tsp dried fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig lemon thyme
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
Wash, peel as necessary, and dice or slice each vegetable into evenly sized pieces, about 1.2 inch thick. Leave small shallots and mushrooms whole.
Place a batch of vegetables in a stainless steel saucepan and add enough vinegar until it is just covering the vegetables. Add the sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
When the soft vegetables have been boiled for 2-3 minutes and firmer vegetables until al dente, about 5-10 minutes, pat dry on paper towels and allow to cool.
Loosely pack the vegetables into sterilized jars and add the seasonings. Cover with olive oil and press the vegetables down lightly to remove any air pockets.
Top off with oil, then seal and store in the fridge. Leave for at least 1 week before opening. Top off with extra oil once opened so the vegetables are always covered with ½ inch oil.