Slowly but surely, the gardens are being planted. As I planned, foremost in my mind was what I want to eat later, when the fresh produce from the garden is but a memory. That includes, of course, my love of making pickles.
Like many who begin pickling, I started with cucumbers. Really, there is very little better than homemade garlic dills. I started with the vinegar pickling, but then I discovered lacto-fermentation, and well, those are pretty good too. As my sauerkraut ferments in my mondo crock, I imagine it filled with cucumbers.
Unsatisfied with sticking with cucumbers, though, I ventured on to other vegetables. I mean, if cucumbers were good as pickles, other things had to be as well. Last year I made dilly beans, and they were great. I basically used this recipe, but without the pepper. I’d hate to admit how quickly I went through my stash.
When I started fermenting food, I had to do dilly carrots; Really Dilly, Really Garlicky, Really Green Beans; and a veggie blend that includes radishes (a terribly underused vegetable to my way of thinking). You can see pictures of those in this post.
Several weeks ago, I read several Tweets about something called “Cowboy Candy.” I admit I had never heard of it. So I did what most people do these days: I turned to Google. I soon learned that they are called by other names, including pickled jalapenos and candied jalapenos. There also seems to be myriad recipes. After looking over several, as well as reading numerous blog posts, I decided to use this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. I did not, however, use the ground cayenne pepper.
Two words: good choice. They are really good. They’re great on their own, topping burgers and hotdogs, mixed into your favorite meatloaf recipe, topping pizza, or even mixed in with omelet ingredients. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll see they are the same ones many people use in making bread and butter pickles. In a way, these can be called bread and butter jalapenos. The heat of the jalapenos helps counteract what some people consider the “too sweet” taste of the traditional bread and butter pickles.
When I mentioned on Twitter I was going to make them, someone told me I’d want to have a steady supply. She’s right. Next time, I think I might seed some of the jalapenos, so the finished product isn’t quite so hot. Most people won’t consider these too hot, but I tend not to like things really hot.
My latest pickling experiment was pickled asparagus. There was a sale at the store, so I bought enough for eating steamed (with butter, of course) and have some to pickle.
When tasting the results, my first question was, “Why did I wait so long.” I think I went through the first jar in just over a day. I had to force myself to put the jar away, or I would have likely eaten the entire thing in one sitting. Seriously. No really, seriously.
There are many recipes available on the Internet for pickled asparagus. I’ve put mine in the recipe section of this blog. It’s incredibly easy. The hardest thing is finding a jar. You can always use a quart jar. Or if you don’t mind small pieces, a pint jar works as well. Ball makes 12 ounce jars, but they can be difficult to find. They can be ordered, of course. I didn’t care about pretty, so I went with the pint-sized jars because I had them available.
Did you know that your asparagus spear will tell you where to break the steam? Hold the spear and give it a bend backward. It will snap where the spear becomes too hard to eat.
I hope you’ll expand your repertoire of pickle making beyond the cucumber. If the idea of canning them deters you, don’t let it. They can be stored in the refrigerator. And the results are definitely worth the effort.© Copyright 2012 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook