Cocktail Onions: The Happy Hour Pickle

Cocktail Onions OK, that’s not entirely true. There are way more than just one pickled fruit or vegetable one can incorporate into their cocktail repertoire. One of the more authentic local supper clubs offers pickled mushrooms as an option with their Old Fashioned and a friend of mine used to put a pickled green bean in a Martini magically converting it into a Green Beani. But when I’m going for a garnish apart from the olive, cherry or citrus slice I reach for the onions.

A recent issue of Imbibe magazine had an article on home-made cocktail onions and the Co-Conspirator suggested I give it a try. It was a pretty basic recipe of champagne vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pickling spice that makes way more liquid than you need. For the last ingredient I just threw together a mix of the usual things like allspice, cinnamon and cloves. The hardest part was peeling the little onions. I had purchased fresh ones with the skins still on so I blanched them and then we sat and tediously picked off the skins. Next time we make these I’m going to try using the frozen pearl onions. “Someone” seems to think those would work just fine, but I’m wondering if they won’t just be all mushy from being frozen. Maybe we’ll find out. In the meantime, this batch turned out well and we’ve been enjoying them in the occasional Gibson. If you’re so inclined, give making your own a try.

Post Produce: Peppers!

I’m going to spare you all the highly, excessively alliterative content I considered including in this post. Suffice it to say I’m dealing with a plethora of peppers as I participate in my first Post Produce. A couple days ago I finally called the pepper harvest over and harvested every last one of them. We may have some sunny days but it’s going to stay cold and the chances of many more of them growing appreciably or even ripening are pretty slim. I selected a good quantity for freezing and then, faced with this abundance I decided it was time to try pickling some.

The first recipe I used was the basic one for hot peppers in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It’s a simple solution of vinegar and water flavored with garlic. I mixed it up by using different peppers, treatments and additional vegetables. Some recipes I had looked at called for blistering and peeling the peppers first so I did that with the largest of the remaining Chervena Chushkas. These are so good this way I may have to pressure can some next year so I have them for making muhummara. For now the commercial bottled ones will have to do.

In the end I had eight pints. Three are straight, whole jalapenos, two are the roasted sweet peppers with some carrots added to one jar, two are green Italian frying peppers with celery in one and onion in the other and the last jar is plain Ancho Gigantea–none of which were actually gigantic.

With these done and out of the way I’m still left with quite a few more green Chervena Chushka peppers. For these I’ll use Ball’s “Pickled Pepper Mix” recipe. This version calls for slitting and brining the peppers for twelve to eighteen hours so I’m timing that process so that I can do the actual pickling tomorrow morning.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

I’m surprised how GOOD these things are! First, a little backstory. The other day as I was munching my lunch at work one of my co-workers happened through the break room and we got talking about gardens and the weather and all that stuff some people find boring but we don’t. In the course of your chat I mentioned that I’ve got a lot of green tomatoes on the vines that I don’t expect to ripen despite the nice warm spell we’re having. She then told me about the pickled green tomatoes that were served at her daughter’s recent wedding. I had one of my (frequent) “Oh, duh!” moments as she enlightened me to something I could be doing with some of that unripe fruit.

As soon as I had a chance I picked a small load of green San Marzanos and Sungolds and got picklin’. The recipe I used was found here. In the original sliced globe tomatoes were used. Since I actually have fewer globe types on the vine right now I opted for the varieties mentioned above. The San Marzanos I quartered lengthwise into spears and the Sungolds, some of which were actually ripe or beginning to color, I randomly halved, left whole, slitted shallowly or just cut off the discolored spot on the stem end. My thought was that I could compare the different sizes, degrees or ripeness and treatments of the fruit. I also substituted a quarter of the white vinegar in two of the jars with cider vinegar, both having an acidity of 5%. Even though I just made these pickles yesterday, I popped open the larger jar of spears and thought they taste pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The Tasting

Earlier this week I pickled some golden beets and eggs together. I waited a few days and this evening took out a beet and an egg to give them a taste.

The eggs were a little rubbery but not as firm as past ones I’ve made. Maybe in time they’ll get tougher. I’m hoping not. The yolks were just set in the center so if anything I undercooked them. The flavor was delicious, as was the case with the beet. Sweet, spicy, earthy. The gold color hasn’t penetrated far into the egg white but it might given a couple more weeks. We’ll see if they last that long.

Pickled Beets and Eggs

Yesterday I was contemplating the heap of beets accumulating in the crisper drawer and wondering what I was going to do with all of them. As luck would have it, I had managed to harvest some of the Burpee’s Golden when they were still small–just the right size for pickling. For some added interest, I decided to include a few hard-boiled eggs.

In the past I’ve pickled the typical red beets together with eggs. The color from the beets works its way into the egg white giving it a rosy pink color. While the color of the golden beets isn’t as intense as the red ones, I’m hoping to end up with some golden eggs. They may not protect us from a failing economy, but they’ll be fun to eat.

The recipe I used is the “Spicy Pickled Beets” in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, a book I highly recommend to anyone looking to try canning and pickling. As you can see in this shot of the finished product, I didn’t use the recommended two-part lid canning jars. I’m treating this batch as refrigerator pickles that will be eaten up in a relatively short time. Now I just have to have the patience to wait a few days for the flavors to develop before I can taste the results!