I am determined not to let any of my farmer’s market finds go to waste this summer. Anything that can’t be eaten while still fresh has to be converted into a form that will last, preferably something I can keep and revive in the dead of winter when I’ve had my fill of root vegetables. I spent yesterday in the kitchen, applying my preserving skills to some seasonal produce.
What to do with two quarts of local strawberries when you already have a half dozen jars of strawberry preserves? Make ice cream and sorbet. Both products begin the same way, only deviating in preparation just before freezing. I used recipes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, and began with strawberry sour cream ice cream. I rinsed, hulled, and sliced a pound of strawberries and measured out 150 grams of sugar and a tablespoon of kirsch. (Pro tip: use a star-shaped pastry bag tip to core out the berries.)
I mixed the berries with the sugar and kirsch, stirred to dissolve the sugar, then let the berries macerate at room temperature for an hour in a covered bowl. I stirred about every ten minutes to make sure the sugar was dissolved. I started a second bowl for the sorbet half an hour after the first, so my processing steps would be staggered. When the berries were ready, I measured out a cup each of sour cream and heavy cream.
I puréed the berries and creams in a blender along with a squirt of fresh lemon juice, stopping while there was still a bit of rough texture to the mix.
For the sorbet, I puréed the macerated berries along with some lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then passed the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
I chilled the ice cream base for an hour before churning in my ice cream freezer; the sorbet base chilled overnight before freezing. The results are what you see at the top of the post: a his-and-hers dessert for me and She Who Must Be Obeyed. I loved the richness and tang of the ice cream, but the sorbet was right on the money; not too sweet, tasting of nothing but strawberry essence.
Freezing is definitely preserving, but I don’t expect the results to last more than a week or so.
Because I can’t grow anything in the weed patch that passes for my back yard (dogs, skunks, and thieving passers-by make that impossible), I have an AeroGarden hydroponic setup in the Belm Utility Research Kitchen. I have used it in the past to grow the lettuce for my 100% homemade BLT, but I used it most recently to try growing jalapeño peppers. Due to a catastrophic failure of the plants as they were at the height of pepper production, I had to harvest everything at once, leaving me with more peppers than I could comfortably cook with at one time. After asking for suggestions as to what should be done with my sudden windfall, I settled on pickling most of them, and since I was already in that groove, making sorbet out of a few of the still-green specimens. (It only took two comments to have jalapeño jelly suggested to me. Who eats that stuff, and what is it good for?)
Pickling was simple: I cut two lengthwise splits in each pepper, added spices (two garlic cloves, four peppercorns, two allspice berries, and half a bay leaf ) to a pint mason jar, and measured out a cup each of water and white vinegar.
While I brought the water, vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt to a boil, I packed the peppers into the jar, which I then filed almost to the top with the hot solution. I layered a tablespoon of olive oil over the top, then capped the jar with a band and lid. I set the jar in a pot of boiling water and let it process for ten minutes. After cooling, my pickled peppers were ready:
I seeded and diced the remaining four peppers, then measured out two cups of water, a cup and a quarter of sugar, and a tablespoon each of vodka and lime juice.
I combined the water and sugar, and heated until the sugar was dissolved. I added the diced jalapeños, and let the mixture infuse until it reached room temperature. Once cooled, I puréed it in the blender with a pinch of salt.
I let this base sit overnight as well, then churned it in the morning.
It’s sweet, but it also has a delayed burn after a few seconds. I plan on using it as a garnish in bowls of summer corn soup, but I have to wait for the fresh corn to show up.
I only discovered garlic scapes – the flowering shoot from garlic bulbs – last summer. Farmers cut the curly shoots off to promote larger bulb growth, and sell the scapes during their very short season. They can be used like chives or scallions, but obviously have a garlicky flavor. I noticed that the straighter end closest to the bulb has a texture similar to raw green beans, which gave me the idea of pickling them.
I didn’t take any intermediate photos of the pickling process, which was pretty much the same as for the jalapeños. The spice mixture was different: a large handful of dill, a garlic clove, and a quarter teaspoon of kochukaru (I was out of cayenne). I had enough to fill two pint jars, which I processed along with the peppers:
I reserved a large bunch of the scape tops in the fridge (they’re a favorite omelette addition), then vacuum-sealed the rest in two bags which are now in the Deep Storage Facility.
A few hours of easy work allows me to extend my summer well past the time when its benefits are available. Not a bad trade-off.