Monday, July 11, 2011

Pickles! (now with gratuitous garlic scapes)

Hello and happy high summer!

With high summer comes fresh produce, and when you have a CSA, sometimes you can end up with a lot of something that you don't necessarily have the impetus to cook with.
To that end, something I have gotten a lot of this year (I am sure you are shocked to hear based on this post, and then this post) are garlic scapes. Giving scapes a run for the money in the excess department? Fennel. I was overloaded, I didn't feel like cooking anything major (it's hot, turning on the stove takes effort) so I decided to pickle my excess veggie blues away!

As I am no expert pickler, I took to the trusty google machine to look up recipes for pickling fennel and scapes, and then, for a moment, considered pickling them together. I wasn't sure how that would work- the anise flavor or the fennel and the garlic flavor of the scapes, so I figured I would tackle them one at a time. I started with the fennel, as the recipe I found required the fennel be cooked for a few minutes. Please note that I didn't have: celery seeds, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, a fancy dancy jar with a rubber falange. But I needed a guide, and this seemed like a good place to start. I followed the recipe, using about 1 and a half cups of white vinegar, about 2/3 a cup of sugar, 1/3 of a cup of water and a teaspoon of ground coarse sea salt. I also threw in a little celery salt to make up for not having celery seeds. Once this mixture was boiling, I lowered the heat and added the fennel, letting it cook for almost 5 minutes. I had cut the pieces of fennel a little smaller than planned, so I didn't think it needed the full 5 minutes of cooking.
I did put a sprinkling of "seeds" in the bottom of the jar. About 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each of rosemary, cumin, rainbow pepper and coriander. I used my kitched tons to pack the fennel in the jar and then poured the vinegar mixture over the fennel until it was covered. I did not bother to steam the jar, I just tightened the lid as best I could, and set it on the counter to cool.

I had some of the vinegar liquid left over, so I decided to use that for the scapes. I poured the rest of a bottle of rice wine vinegar into the pot, as well as about 1/3 a cup of sugar, a half teaspoon of salt, and some cayenne and sesame seeds. I cut the ends off the scapes, although in hind site, I would also cut off the bulbous portion of each, as it is more hollow then the rest of the scape stalk. I boiled the vinegar mixture briefly so that the sugar was dissolved and then poured it over the scapes that were in a bowl. As scapes are curly, I ended up using my kitchen scissors to cut them into smaller segments so that they would be more completely immersed in the liquid. Once this cooled, I put them in a jar and poured the liquid over it.

I love the look of pickles, I also love having things in different sized/typed jars. Anyone who has been to my house knows my drinking glasses are in fact empty jars, so it should come as no surprise that I have a fondness for filling them up with things (Is it time for me to start jelly-ing?). A few days later, and I have tried both pickles. The scapes are a bit tough, I like the flavor and even the texture, but thought they had a bit of toughness. The fennel came out great, it was still crunchy, and the combination of the licorice flavor with the vinegar is really tasty.

Hooray for pickles!

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