For many Australian kitchen gardeners February is the most bountiful month of the growing year. (If you have any doubt about this check out the Witches Kitchen’s haul, impressive eh?)
February is a month in which the volume of produce can start to get overwhelming and if you can’t give it away then the choice is between composting it/feeding it to the chooks or preserving it. Naturally my preference is for the latter. I looked at summer fruits last week so this week I turn to the vegetables. (Yeah I know that technically most of the below are fruit but as I’m writing from a culinary perspective I’m calling them vegetables.)
Cucumber – Usually I turn all my excess cucumbers into Bread and Butter Cucumbers to ensure I have sufficient for the whole year. However my crop (and indeed my parents crop) has been so good this year that I have also attempted some gherkins. I’ll be interested to see if they are any good. I’m using the recipe in my Fowlers preserving book but if you have a tried and test gherkin method then I would love to hear about it.
Tomatoes – Are there any methods of preserving tomatoes that don’t taste delicious? I usually preserve a heap as passata/sauce (simply tomatoes chopped up, cooked down, put through the mouli and bottled). I also make sauce – as in ketchup, and lots of chutney. Of all the things you can make chutney with my favourite has to be the tomato. When I lived in the UK I used to bring jars of my mums back with me every time I visited Australia. The other thing I like to do with tomatoes is dry them. My parents grow Principe Borghese especially for drying and they work really well dried in the oven and then later added to sauces etc or, as is Miss 6’s preference, eaten as snacks.
Onion/Shallot – Now I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of pickled onions. They are a bit too vinegary (without the sugar offset that I personally enjoy) for my palate. However the rest of my household love them and as I love them I dutifully make them for them. I know, I know I’m a saint… There is one way I really enjoy preserving shallots in particular and that is as Crispy Fried Shallots. A delicious addition to heaps of dishes. I use them in kedgeree and Vietnamese Coleslaw in particular.
Chillies – I am currently eating my second last jar of sambal (made with the second recipe on the link, bottled and stored in the fridge) . This is perfect timing as the chillies are about to ripen again. I find making sambal the perfect way to preserve chillies. I use it to adjust the heat of my meals, as I like chilli but have to make most dishes mild to please the kids. I do also dry quite a few chillies each year both to use whole and to make flakes from as well as making Tomato and Chilli Jam. I found a two year old jar of it in the cupboard the other day and gosh it was good.
I have to say I deliberated on the final spot in the 5 this week. I quite like beans preserved the Italian way in vinegar and olive oil. Ditto carrots. But in the end I decided on:
Eggplant – I only ever preserve eggplant in one way (are there others?) and that is as an Indian style pickle. I have used recipes from a variety of sources and yet to pick a favourite but all of them have combined the softness of the eggplants with the warmth of spice and the heat of chilli. Just delicious.
Which vegetables do you preserve in summer and how do you preserve them?