Lazy blogger returns to pickle again!



I have admittedly been lazy about the blog, but not about everything else!  I’ve been quite busy, in fact.  Here’s the current state of my rumtopf: cherries, a few red currants, raspberries, and strawberries added.  I may have more peaches to harvest soon too, so those will go in then.  This jar, incidentally, is a sun tea jar I bought for a couple bucks at the grocery store years ago, cheerfully decorated with cherries.  It’s never been used for sun tea, but it’s perfect for rumtopf (heavy on the cherries, appropriately enough) and fermenting vegetables.

Speaking of peaches, I did harvest and can my first crop this year.  They were tiny and very cute, about apricot-sized.  This is apparently normal for first harvests, so presumably that means next year’s crop should be bigger fruit.  I wound up with a couple pounds, so I did 2 jars of tarragon peaches and 3 of spiced, though I completely forgot to add the cinnamon sticks to those, so they’re just allspice and cloves.  They’re Red Havens, which are supposed to do well here.

I also tried a fermented Concord grape jam, with not much success.  20160828_161752 The recipe called for Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which I couldn’t find, so I added regular pectin.  Which apparently needs to be heated to do its thing.  So this is very liquid, but I’ll taste it tonight to see if it’s good.  Kind of a weird recipe, calling for salt and maple syrup and crushed berries, but it seemed worth a try, anyway.  I added one last peach I’d somehow forgotten to can up, so at least there’s that for texture.  (The grapes went through the food mill, since they’re full of seeds.)

I also made more curried cauliflower, which is visible in the background of the previous picture, as well. 20160828_161836  This is a favorite of ours, with a hint of sweetness from orange juice (or raisins last time) and some heat from jalapenos.  It’s tasty with rice or in sandwiches or as a side dish, or even with an actual curry.  Good stuff.  When I finished that, I did a quarter-pound of whole-leaf basil 20160828_161651 which looks kind of awful but smells great.  It’s just the basil leaves massaged with a small quantity of salt, and yes, that is the whole quarter of a pound.  Apparently the flavor gets very concentrated, and you use it like fresh.  I might get more this weekend and top this jar off, too.  I love the idea of year-round basil.  In previous years, I’ve made pesto and frozen it in ice cube trays, but stuff gets so buried in the freezer that I always find bits of it from 2 years ago, freezer-burned and sort of tragic.

And finally, I did a second batch of the excellent sweet- and hot-pepper salsa: 20160828_161913.  This unprepossessing photo is the inside of the fermentation crock, with a layer of plastic wrap directly over the chopped veg, a plate on top of that, and a jar of cornstarch as a weight.  I keep the crock covered with a dishcloth, which you can see in the earlier photos, behind the other jars.  The salsa is excellent, in any case, and really worth making.  It’s also pretty simple: 3 pounds of sweet peppers, 1 pound of hot, a couple sweet onions, 3 or 4 gloves of garlic, and salt.  You just whir everything in the food processor, though next time I’ll do that in 2 batches, since it leaked pepper juice all over the place.  Then you let it ferment for a few days until it tastes good.

Still to come: Sriracha, grape conserve, and hopefully a batch of wine with elderberries and my Leon Millot grapes.  I’ve started the Sriracha but I didn’t have enough vinegar and was too wiped out to go get more.  So I’ll remedy that soon.  Grapes are getting ready for harvest, and we’ll see about the elderberries.  I have some fruit clusters, but they’re still looking pretty green, so I might give up and use dried fruit like I did last time.  Busy time of year!  Please think good wine-making thoughts my way.