A day spent pickling and preserving provides a whole year of flavor. Here are eight recipes from the north shore’s top chefs, farmers, health store owners and nutritionists. By Anna and David Kasabian Photographs by Glenn Scott, Food and Prop Styling by Maria Del Mar Sacasa
Whether you call it pickling, canning, preserving, freezing, drying, or, as Grandma might have called it, “putting food by,” storing food for later consumption is hot. It’s no surprise, really, considering what drives the trend: the economy; food safety; the desire to limit the sugar, salt, and preservatives we eat; the fresh/local/seasonal movement; and, of course, a craving for delicious food. As these North Shore folks will show you, whether you can your own items or stock up at the farm stand, it’s pretty easy to fill your pantry.
Salsa yields 6 pints Recipe developed by Henry and Helen Smolak of Smolak Farms, North Andover (smolakfarms.com). This is a great recipe for using up the very last of the tomato harvest, when those late-ripening specimens may not be pretty to look at but still taste great.
8 c. ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained
21/2 c. chopped onion
11/2 c. chopped green pepper
3 medium-size jalapeno peppers, seeded, cored, and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. canning salt
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar for boiled water bath or
1/3 cup vinegar for pressure canner
16 oz. canned tomato sauce
16 oz. canned tomato paste
Place a large stockpot half filled with water on high heat and bring to a slow boil. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients in a non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel or porcelain. Boil for 10 minutes. Pour into six hot, sterilized jars. Secure the lids and place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Sweet Pickle Relish yields 3 pints Of her recipe for relish, Helen Smolak says, “You don’t need to peel the cucumbers before shredding. I use the shredding attachment on my food processor (a large-hole box shredder also works). If you are using large cucumbers, cut them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds before shredding. If you garden, you can save the seed for next season.”
4 c. shredded cucumber
1 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp. pickling spice
1 c. white vinegar
11/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan or stock pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a slow boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon (to drain excess liquid), place relish in six eight-ounce freezer-safe containers and freeze.
Summer Pomodoro serves 4 Recipe developed by Salem’s 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar chef/owner Antonio Bettencourt (62restaurant.com). Bettencourt says, “When it comes to resurrecting the flavor of summer in the dead of winter, for me, it’s all about the tomato. Here is how I try to relive summer’s glory when ‘baby, it’s cold outside.'”
He explains, “Throughout the year, we make pomodoro (tomato) sauce with canned Italian San Marzano tomatoes. But when the local tomato season is in high gear, we switch over to this version with fresh tomatoes.”
To serve the sauce come wintertime, Bettencourt says, “First, I blanch (parboil) the tomatoes for just a few seconds to loosen the skin and then shock them in an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Next, I peel and quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. I then place the tomatoes in a vacuum bag (like a Foodsaver) and suck out all the air. Now freeze the tomatoes until needed.”
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 lbs. frozen tomato segments (see above), thawed
Salt to taste
Several sprigs of thyme, tied with twine
Put 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a small saucepan over very low heat. Cook gently for 15 minutes. Do not brown the garlic. Remove from heat. Heat a large saucepan over very high heat. Add a thin film of olive oil and add the tomatoes and salt. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes break down. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching. Use the spoon to break up the tomato segments. Lower heat to medium, add thyme and oil with garlic and red pepper. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes longer. Serve over pasta of your choice.
Pear Chutneyyields 3 pints The credit for this delicious pear chutney recipe goes to Russell Orchards’ beloved Grammy, mother-in-law of owner Miranda, and the creator of the iconic cider donuts and apple pies that still make a visit to Ipswich’s Russell Orchards an absolute must every autumn.
3 lbs. pears
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. mustard seed
2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, finely minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
A few drops of hot sauce
Peel, core, and dice pears. Peel then mince garlic, or push it through a garlic press. Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, until thickened. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Pour chutney immediately into sterilized jars and seal. Store in refrigerator. Makes four to six eight-ounce jars.
Green Tomato Mincemeatyields 12 pints Caroline Gallivan, chef/owner of Hamilton’s The Hungry Fox Caterers (thehungryfoxcaterers.com), treasures this recipe, given to her by a dear friend. Believe it or not, she even fills pies with it. “I make a lot of it at the same time,” she says, “and if I make it in October, it lasts in the refrigerator until Christmas. It is also good in turnovers or as a topping to ice cream or frozen yogurt.” Gallivan’s secrets to success are easy to follow: “Use a heavy pot, stir every five minutes, and taste to adjust sweetness.”
6 lbs. green tomatoes, minced
5 lbs. green apples, peeled, cored, and minced
1/2 lbs. unsalted butter
4 lbs. light brown sugar
1 c. white vinegar
2 tbsp. salt
3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. ground allspice
3 lbs. raisins
3 oranges, zest and juice only
2 lemons, zest and juice only
1/2 c. rum or brandy
Place all ingredients into a large non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel or enamel. Turn the burner to medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just begins to bubble. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours until mincemeat is thick. Place in hot, sterilized glass or ceramic containers. Seal tightly. Refrigerate.
Kim Cheeyields 1 gallon Recipe developed by farmer and nutritional therapist Diana Rodgers of South Hamilton’s Green Meadows Farm (gmfarm.com). Rodgers explains the mysterious transformation of ordinary vegetables into this spirited and nutritious Korean side dish. “Homemade sauerkraut, kim chee, and other lacto-fermented foods are very beneficial. Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly, lactic acid-producing bacteria. They contain probiotics, which help keep our immune system strong.”
You will need either a one-gallon ceramic crock, wide-mouth glass jar, or food-grade plastic bucket; a ceramic plate that fits inside crock or bucket; a stone, brick, or something else heavy to hold the plate down; and a cloth cover to keep everything clean.
1 whole red cabbage
1 whole green cabbage
1 bunch kale
1/2 c. chopped fresh dill
2 cloves garlic
10 white peppercorns
10 juniper berries
2 tbsp. unrefined sea salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it hotter)
Shred the vegetables with a grater or chop with a sharp knife. Mix the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Put a one-inch layer in your container or bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat until done. Top the jar off with some water and place the plate on top upside down to hold the vegetables down inside the brine. Cover the plate with a cloth and a weight. For the first 24 hours, keep tamping the vegetables down every few hours to make sure everything is immersed in liquid. Leave the jar in a corner in the kitchen and check on it every few days. If some mold appears on the top, remove as much as you can and clean off the plate. (The vegetables are safe inside the brine, so don’t worry about any mold you see.) Depending on how warm your kitchen is, the kim chee is ready in about two weeks, but you can leave it longer if you wish. Once it has reached the desired flavor, cover with a lid and refrigerate.
Basil Ice Cubesmakes 12 cubes Diana Rodgers told us she likes to make these and use them when it’s cold outside. They’re the perfect way to make a quick pesto when summer’s long gone.
1Â Â Â bunch of basil leaves
1Â Â Â tsp. water
Wash a bunch of basil and remove thick stems. Throw into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add a scant teaspoon of water, and pulverize to make a paste. Quickly scoop into ice cube trays and put in freezer. Thaw at room temperature to use.
Refrigerator Bread and Butter Picklesmakes 2 pounds Recipe deveolped by Russell Orchards owner Miranda Russell. This is a really simple recipe to execute, and the results are delightful. It’s a great beginner recipe for pickling novices, and a welcome relief from all that equipment and process for the hard-core pickling veteran.
2 tsp. black peppercorns
11/2 c. vinegar
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. dill seed
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 lbs. pickling cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 bunch dill
Sterilize and keep hot four one-pint jars with tight-fitting lids. Put black peppercorns, vinegar, water, sugar, kosher salt, and dill seed in a saucepan and bring to a boil.Â Meanwhile, divide onion, cucumber, and dill among the four jars and pack the vegetables tightly into them. Pour hot liquid into the jars, covering the vegetables and filling to just below the lid. Refrigerate.
*Note When a recipe calls for hot sterilized jars, simply run your jars through a dishwasher on high heat before you start your recipe, then leave them in the hot dishwasher until needed.