The Science of Food

If you looked at my book purchases over the last couple of years, you might think I started Twice as Tasty as an excuse to expand my food library. I’d be hard-pressed to dispute it. As my partner and I increasingly returned to basic ingredients and making what we eat from scratch, one of my greatest joys has been learning from people with far more experience, training, and knowledge about food. Although there is a wealth of helpful information online, many of my favorite sources sit on a shelf, ready to be pulled open when I’m looking for answers or ideas.

Earlier this year, I shared some of my go-to books on canning. They’re the inspiration for many recipes on this blog, and my favorites tell me not just how to best can something but also why the process works. When I want to write about other kitchen processes, I often have a different stack on my desk: books on the science of food.
Read more about my favorite resources on the science of food

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Processed Green Tomatoes

When I asked members of the Twice as Tasty Facebook group for recipes they’d like to see on the blog, green tomato requests poured in. I try to ripen my late-season tomatoes and eat the stubborn ones fresh, so my green tomato repertoire was limited. Perfecting long-term storage of green tomatoes called for experimentation, practice—and some unannounced taste testing at Twice as Tasty-catered events.

After sampling a range of pickled and fermented green tomatoes and salsa, sauce, relish, and chutney recipes, a few trends appeared. Pickled greenies are best stored in the refrigerator, where they never feel the heat of a boiling water bath and retain their shape and texture. Salsas could go either way. If you can’t create Grilled Tomatillo Salsa, you can process a green tomato salsa—but I prefer it fresh. In contrast, processing is ideal for a thick, rich chutney.
Learn to make Curried and Pickled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Chutney

Season Wrap-up

After a scorching-hot summer in Montana—literally, with more than 1 million acres burned—fall has come on fast and furious, with a chance of snow at my house this morning. The quick downshift from summer to practically winter instantly affected the garden. Overnight, cucumbers and snap beans stopped growing, apples began falling, and large leaves of self-seeded spinach reappeared in my overgrown and ignored spring cold frame.

Within the hoop house, plants are weathering the weather better, but it won’t be long before I’m forced to admit the final round of peppers and tomatillos won’t grow larger and the remaining tomatoes won’t turn red on the vine. Fortunately, unripened produce can still land in the kitchen instead of the compost. With the right timing, you can enjoy every last late-season vegetable.
Read more about wrapping up the garden

Chilies

You could call this week’s main recipe a food fail. A couple of years ago, I set out to make homemade sriracha. I had grocery bags full of hot peppers that season, and I thought some were destined to become chipotles for Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa and others would be fermented to replicate the flavor of the classic Thai chili sauce and paste.

Then we started smoking chilies and attempting to find the perfect balance of smoke and heat. Suddenly I had grocery bags of smoked chilies—which would not ferment. Even at the low temperatures used for smoking, the heat was high enough to kill off the natural bacteria in the peppers that are essential for fermentation. But I was too stubborn not to try. And although my chili paste never fermented, it was delicious.

So now I make Home-Smoked Chili Paste every year and have yet to miss that bottle sriracha on my shelf. I’ve since learned that adding a culture could allow me to smoke and then ferment, so expect more experimentation down the road. But for now, what could be called a food fail has turned into a favorite kitchen staple.
Learn to smoke chilies and make Home-Smoked Chili Paste