Yes, it was a long, cold winter. But, once again Restoration Farm is in full swing and bursting with life. And, I am in a constant state of anxiety trying to manage the overwhelming amount of produce I lug home every week. When you join a CSA, the battle over spoilage is constant (why does that seemingly indestructible kale seem to wilt so quickly?) along with a healthy helping of guilt served up whenever that carefully raised local food withers, shrivels or develops a rash.
But now, I have the answer to my seasonal dilemma.
I know certain wags among you will assume I'm drowning my angst by hitting the liquor cabinet, but I’m referring to pickling of the more homespun variety. A simple brine of vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and spices can pack some amazing flavor, and summer produce just soaks it all in.
Apparently, a penchant for pickling might be a genetic thing. A long time ago, Long Island was a bit of a pickle paradise, with “salting stations” dotting the landscape. HJ Heinz even operated a pickling factory in Hicksville, Long Island in the late 1800s.
Most pickling can be accomplished without using a boiling water canner. These are technically known as “refrigerator pickles.” They aren’t shelf stable, but last about a month in the refrigerator. The only potential downside is the kitchen counters can get a little tacky from all that sugar and vinegar.
I start with two varieties. I slice up the first of the summer zucchini into spears and pickle it in a brine of turmeric and mustard seed. You simply slice up the vegetables (the zucchini needs to sit for about an hour in a salted water bath), simmer the brine a few minutes, cover the vegetables, let the mixture cool and then refrigerate. A clean up note: Clorox Cleanup does a bang up job of removing turmeric stains from the kitchen counter.
The idea of infusing carrots with brine intrigues me, so I get both orange and white carrots to work with. The orange carrots are from Restoration Farm, and the white carrots are from Terry Farm in Orient Point, one of the oldest operating farms on Long Island. The brine is infused with dill.
The zucchini recipe can be found here. My zucchini was various sizes so I chose to cut it all into spears. The carrot recipe can be found here.
I’m thrilled because there’s a ready-to-eat side dish in the refrigerator waiting for me each night so the need to turn on the stove in the summer is negligible. I’m now researching pickled beets, although the recipe I have in mind does require processing in a boiling water canner.
Along with the carrots and zucchini, there’s been another project marinating this past winter. More on that soon, as well as the story of a familiar (although never glimpsed) face from the past with a healthy appetite, who is ready to take a bite out of New York once again.
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