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

Baking with Zucchini

I’ve improved on one of Mom’s staples for feeding zucchini to kids: chocolate cake. Get zucchini recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I lost all sense of theme in this month’s blog posts, which ranged from grilling tofu, to induction cooking and canning, to pickling eggs. So I might as well round it out with another random topic: baking with zucchini.

People rarely plant zucchini seeds without later bemoaning the endless crop. It’s hard to plant just the two or three hills recommended for a family and even harder to thin each zucchini hill to a single plant. I watched my dad make this mistake every season and then watched my mom as she stared at a kitchen counter hidden under baseball bat-sized zukes, wondering what to do with them all. Yet year after year, I make the same planting mistake, and although I’m diligent about plucking zucchini when they’re about the thickness of an empty paper towel roll, some always get away.

So every year I eat, process, and give away lots of zucchini. But only recently have I returned to, and improved on, one of my mom’s staples for feeding zucchini to kids: Chocolate Zucchini Cake.
Learn to bake with zucchini and make Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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