Okay, so I lied a teensy bit in my last post: I *have* been pickling nearly everything in sight, putting away for tomorrow (well, or at least next month) that which grows abundantly today.
It’s lacto-fermentation, though, that I have been relying upon to pickle my veg, not vinegar. As far as methods go, this is as Old School as it gets. I’ve basically been throwing grape leaves, unripe grapes, peppercorns and mustard seeds, garlic, fennel and parsley flower heads, and any nice fleshy unripe vegetable that I can get my hands on into a crock with salted water. Cover them up (weighted down with my lovely weights and a quart jar of water) and in a week, voila, pickles! The salt in the water interacting with the lactobaccili on the surface of the vegetables is what makes this happen. (I could goose the process by adding whey…but then things end up tasting like goat. No thanks. It works fine on its own.)
Frankly, I can’t wait for all my cukes to get to adequate pickling size, even though I am growing a lot of them this year. And–as ever–I am way behind with my dill plantings. No matter; I look to see what’s blossoming and indeed fennel, cilantro, celery and parsley are all bearers of significant umbrelled flowers…lovely, all, for seasoning. Italian flat-podded green beans, radish seed pods, young peppers (hot and not), eggplant, okra, thin green paste tomatoes, leek pearls, young onions, scallions, shallots, purslane: these are all fair game to add to the limping-along cucumber stash. Even Brett’s milkweed buds and pods get harvested and thrown in the crock.
Sandor Ellix-Katz is my guru in all of this. Perhaps he should be yours too. Please pick up (even at the library) a copy of his Wild Fermentation.
My veggies’ weekly trips (more or less depending on the weather) in the crock yield about 7 pints of veggies: one for each of my CSA people and one for us. These aren’t canned, then; they’re eaten fresh from the fridge, preferably within a month or so…it’s basically slow(er) food. And if you do eat it all, don’t worry, more is coming soon!
More information in the comments.
More lies: here’s the first batch of paste tomatoes en route to the masonry oven. Sundays are Oven Days so…why not hold off on picking tomatoes for the whole week and then having a steamer pan or two of cleaned, halved paste tomatoes go in for gentle cooking overnight? When I took the bread and the chicken out of it, the Loven was about 300*. It holds its heat overnight, but…I go check it before bed, and if it’s reduced “enough” then I will take the pans out, put their contents in half-gallon jars for the fridge, and then tomorrow after a trip through the food mill they’ll be canned. It’s a great way to get paste.