Fermented Cucumbers

I’ve loved cucumber pickles since I was a kid. Fermentation takes them to a new level. Get fermented vegetable recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I’ve loved pickles since I was a kid. My mom put dozens of jars of dill and “sweet” (bread-and-butter) pickles through a water bath every year, and I’d sneak them like they were potato chips. But the longer the pickles sat, the less chip-like crunch they gave. Over the years, I’ve played with ingredients and canning techniques that have helped. Then I discovered fermentation.

Think about it: Cucumbers are best fresh and raw. Putting them in hot water is bound to affect their texture. Fermentation replaces heat with time and vinegar with salt. No wonder the result is crisper and fresher. And the flavoring possibilities—from dill to tea—are endless.

If you’ve never run a fermentation, I suggest you check out my introductory post from earlier this month. But here are the basics: Start with everything clean and fresh. Monitor the batch daily so that you can see the process. If you have doubts, give it the toss and start again.
Learn to make Fermented Dill Pickles and Fermented Tea Pickles

Advertisements

Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes top the list of my favorite fresh summertime, homegrown vegetables. (Yes, scientifically, they’re fruit. But to a cook, they’re vegetables.) These are fresh summertime favorites because their sweet, juicy flesh is at its peak, tasting completely different from tomatoes that have been grilled, roasted, or otherwise cooked or preserved. They’re homegrown favorites because despite the few tomato varieties available in grocery stores, hundreds of varieties are available as seed.

We planted 26 tomato starts in late May and have been harvesting 14 varieties this month. Some are tiny, bright red cherry tomatoes; some are dark purple giants. My childhood loves are sweet Yellow Pears I eat like candy from the vine, but some of my recent favorites are heirloom Black Cherry tomatoes, with large (for the “cherry” class), dusky fruit, and dense, heart-shaped Oxheart tomatoes. Each adds a distinct flavor and texture to fresh appetizers and salads.
Learn to make Herbed-Tomato Dip and Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)

Fresh Fillings

If you grow a giant garden, each day’s harvest fills multiple boxes and baskets and then every spare corner of your refrigerator. But if you grow a more reasonably sized garden, your harvest likely comes in dibs and dabs: a couple of cucumbers and tomatoes, perhaps a pepper, a small mound of greens, a handful of herbs. Combining these garden-fresh favorites into a meal that showcases your effort often means coming up short for a standard recipe.

This is why I love fillings and stuffings; the ingredients are endlessly variable, a little goes a long way, and the result is a sparkling-fresh meal that highlights produce just off the vine. Whether you’re filling summer rolls, stuffing squash blossoms, or even building Grilled Fish Tacos, the key is to use less filling than you think you’ll need. A gentle hand while wrapping delicate rice paper or petals around that filling is also essential for success.
Learn to make Summer Rolls and Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Garden-Fresh Favorites

When summer hits and the garden is in full swing, I spend a lot of time processing its bounty to enjoy later. But the greatest joy of growing your own garden is immediately eating the sun-warmed peppers, crisp snap beans, and brilliant orange carrots you’ve produced. No matter how well you preserve a fruit or vegetable, it’s still a substitute for fresh-from-the-plant flavor.

Twice as Tasty made the front page of The Daily Inter Lake’s Montana Life section this week. The delicious photos and story by Brenda Ahearn focus on a recent workshop on Indian spices.

Fortunately, eating freshly harvested produce is easy. A walk through the garden has you snapping off a peapod here, grabbing a cherry tomato there, and collecting a handful of raspberries that you pop straight into your mouth. But grazing is just the beginning. This blog already offers some of my favorite fresh recipes for asparagus, corn, and zucchini and tomatoes. The key to making these fresh-tasting dishes is knowing when and how to pluck the choicest edibles.
Read more about enjoying garden-fresh favorites