Preserving Chilies

Sambal Oelek (Chile Paste). Get the recipes in The Complete Guide to Pickling by Julie Laing.
Sambal Oelek (Chile Paste). Photograph by Andrew Purcell.

Just like the cabbage I wrote about last week, chilies feature heavily in my pickling cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling. I pickle and preserve them on their own in recipes ranging from Beer-Pickled Jalapenos to Spicy Vinegar and from quick-pickled Chile Rings to fermented hot sauces. I also drop them into many of the savory pickles in the book and even a few of the sweeter ones, like Jerk-Spiced Banana Pickles.

Do I preserve so many chilies because we grow more than 40 pepper plants every year, or do we grow that many plants so I have boxes of chilies? It’s hard to say, but at least half of our homegrown peppers carry a mild to a fiery heat. Jalapenos and poblanos take up much of the hoop house space, but I bump up the Scoville scale with serranos, bird’s eye chilies, habaneros, and cayenne peppers.

The mix varies each year—as does the quality and size of the harvest. After buying and pickling pepperoncini to test for a new recipe for the cookbook, I grew some of these mild chilies for the first time last year. They started turning red when they were smaller than my thumb, so I pickled them in pint jars. This year, a plant from Swan River Gardens has grown taller than the cherry tomato cages and produced peppers longer than my index finger. Two half-gallon jars are stuffed full in my fridge, and more peppers are ready to harvest.
Read more about preserving chilies and learn to make Sambal Oelek (Chile Paste)

Preserving Cabbage

Preserving cabbage. Get the recipes in The Complete Guide to Pickling by Julie Laing.
When Americans think of pickled foods, they often start with two vegetables: cucumbers and cabbage. For both types, the options extend far beyond basic dill slices and sauerkraut. I included 11 cucumber and 7 cabbage pickles in The Complete Guide to Pickling, ranging from quick pickles to relishes to ferments.

In the cabbage category, curtido has become one of my favorites. This pickled cabbage slaw originated in El Salvador and typically combines cabbage, onion, and oregano, sometimes adding other flavors like carrot, chili, garlic, lime, and cilantro. It comes together in just 20 minutes, but letting it sit in salt for a couple of hours to draw out the vegetables’ natural liquid keeps the mixture from becoming watery. After it sits another 6 hours, the curtido is ready to eat—but it keeps in the fridge for several weeks.
Read more about preserving cabbage and learn to make Eight-Hour Curtido

Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs keep and travel well, and some tricks will help you when making pickled eggs. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Harvest is in full swing, which means my canning and fermenting supplies dominate my mudroom and my refrigerator is packed with produce waiting to be preserved. But after the successful launch of my pickling cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling, last fall, I’ve made time for some recipes that make minimal use of my homegrown produce, including pickled eggs.

We have a rich supply of eggs on the farm where I garden. As I created pickled egg recipes for my cookbook, I fell in love with the rich colors of brine-infused egg whites against bright orange yolks. Since then, I’ve been playing with all sorts of brines—reused from other pickles and made from scratch—to produce a range of colors and flavors.

Pickled eggs keep and travel well, and we’ve been eating them regularly all summer. They have become staples for multiday cruises aboard The Blue Mule, and they make a great post-yoga snack or grab-and-go breakfast with the garden’s latest berries. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that will help you when making pickled eggs.
Learn to reuse pickle brine and make pickled eggs

Fermenting Tools

If you catch the fermentation bug, it’s worth investing in some tools. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
When I was testing tools for The Complete Guide to Pickling, I had the most fun with tools for fermentation. Until I started writing the book, I had mostly fermented using tools and equipment already in my kitchen, relying on zip-close bags, small glass jars, and airlocks cobbled together with old canning lids. But when I realized I would be including more than 30 fermented recipes in the book, it was time to research and test some fermenting tools.

The surge of interested in fermented foods has opened opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs to present tools designed to make fermentation easy, manageable, and trouble free. Some of those companies were willing to send me their products to test as I created the recipes in the book.

My main takeaway was this: If you catch the fermentation bug, it’s worth investing in some tools. To create a healthy fermentation, you must keep the food submerged in the brine. You’ll get the best results if you can also limit airflow. Here are some of my favorite tools to help with both.
Read more about fermenting tools