Lacto-Fermented Pickles

Brine

1 quart water

2 T kosher salt  or sea salt (do not use table salt)

2-3 t pickling spice

1 t red pepper flakes (optional)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

3 T snipped fresh dill or 2-3 sprigs dill

Optional – ½ – 1 C white vinegar

Very clean 1qt. wide-mouthed mason jar with screw top lid or wire-hinged jar with rubber seal

Vegetables – Kirby cucumbers, green beans, carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, beets, turnips

Boil the water and pour it into a bowl, add the salt and pickling spices and then allow to cool.

Wash and peel (as needed) the vegetables you have selected to pickle. Cut into desired size and pack the clean jar with vegetables. Add the garlic and dill, then pour in the brine. The brine should cover the vegetables enough so that the liquid is about 1 inch below the top of the jar. Screw the top on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 days.

After this time, carefully open the jar (I prefer to place the jar in the kitchen sink). The liquid should be very fizzy and the lid should pop when opened, often causing some liquid to run over the top of the jar. Taste a vegetable, which should have a nice tang and a “dilly” flavor. If they are to your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator; if they aren’t fermented to your liking, close the jar and let it sit another 24 hours. If you prefer a more vinegar tang, you can pour off some of the brine and add the white vinegar. Once refrigerated, the pickles will continue to lacto-ferment, but at a much slower rate and the flavor will mellow over time. They will keep for several weeks, even a few months, but the flavors will mellow and if you use cucumbers, the texture will soften over time.


Peach-and-Tomato Gazpacho with Cucumber Yogurt

peach-tomato-gazpacho-sl-x This soup is totally refreshing and quite beautiful, especially if you use all-red tomatoes as your base, but a mixture of colors for the chunked-up portion. Yellow or white peaches do great in it, as well as nectarines and even apricots. I don’t bother peeling any of the fruit or veggies (tomatoes, that is — I do peel the onions!). If you plan on doing some ahead, just do the pureed part — once the peach chunks are cut up and added, the soup will  hold up for only about a day or two. Almonds are optional but they do add a nice crunch and their flavor goes beautifully with peaches. Of course, if you’re coming to eat at our house, you’ll have this soup with a soupcon of red pepper flakes! Demoed by Adrienne at US Botanic Garden August 6, 2015. Adapted from a recipe from Southern Living.

5 large peaches, divided
3 large tomatoes, cored and divided
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about ½ C)
3 T apple cider vinegar

1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional)
½ C slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely ground
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 C finely diced cucumber, seeded as needed
1/3 C plain yogurt
2 T minced parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
snipped chives or minced parsley for garnish
Fresh-ground black pepper

Quarter 4 peaches and 2 tomatoes. Process quartered peaches and tomatoes, onions, vinegar in a food processor until smooth. Chop remaining peach and tomato. Stir into pureed mixture. Add almonds and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill 1-4 hours. Meanwhile, combine cucumber and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.To serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with 1 T yogurt mixture, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with minced parsley or chives and a grind of pepper.

Yield: Six servings


Tomato Essence

tomato essenceTomato Essence is actually the clear or nearly clear liquid that is the real juice of the tomato.  What we typically know as tomato juice is actually pureed tomatoes, often thinned with water.  But if you strain tomato chunks through cheesecloth for several hours, what comes out is Tomato Essence, a liquid that has such deliciously pure tomato flavor you’ll want to spoon up every drop.  This liquid can be used on its own, as a soup, spiced with salt and pepper, drizzled with fruity olive oil and garnished with finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers and basil chiffonnade, all thoroughly chilled, for an elegant first course.  Or you can use Tomato Essence to dress a salad, per the recipe below.  Adrienne demoed this for a class at Brookside July 16 2014. Read More