Preserve Summer’s Bounty with Chef Ben Goodnick
Summer may be winding down, but we aren’t ready to say goodbye to our favorite seasonal fruits and veggies just yet. If your garden was especially bountiful this year, or you bought a few too many ears of sweet corn, we bet you’re wondering about ways to preserve it through fall.
To answer this pressing produce question, we tapped Summer House Santa Monica’s Chef Ben Goodnick for ideas on how to preserve your summer stash. Grab your Mason jars and read on to learn how to pickle your fruits and veggies at home.
Before we get to the recipes, here are a few general tips on pickling from Chef Ben:
The Jars: “I like the half-pint Ball brand Mason jars. The jars and bands are reusable and easy to clean. However, don’t reuse the lids. Make sure to replace those after each use for safety’s sake.”
Keep it Crisp: “For almost all pickles, I completely chill the brine before pouring it over the produce. This will keep the shape intact and give you a crispier pickle.”
Pickling Spice: “This is a blend of whole or cracked spices available at your local grocery store. It usually contains mustard seed, peppercorns, hot pepper flakes, bay leaf, cinnamon, clove and allspice.”
A sugar and spice-forward brine turns sweet summer peaches into pickles perfect for the winter months. Chef Ben recommends serving these instead of (or alongside) cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, as he’s never been a fan of the jiggly red stuff. They still hit all the tart and sweet buttons, but with more complex flavors. He also recommends topping vanilla ice cream with the pickled peaches and some of their syrup for an easy, yet impressive, dessert.
Yield: 4 pints
2 cups water
3 pounds peaches
2 cups cider vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice
1 cinnamon stick
1. Cut around the pit to half each of the peaches. Remove the pit with a spoon and cut into quarters.
2. Mix the water, cider vinegar, sugar, cloves and pickling spice in a large pot over high heat. Bring brine to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. While simmering, periodically stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and completely chill the brine in the refrigerator.
3. Place the cut peaches in 8 half-pint Mason jars and pour brine over to fill.
4. Put on lids and refrigerate. They will be ready to enjoy in 5 days and will keep up to 3 months in the fridge.
This recipe also works well with watermelon rind. Simply remove (read: eat) the red flesh of the watermelon, peel off the green skin with a potato peeler, and cut the white inner rind into small chunks to fit the jars. Add the brine and refrigerate. The end result is similar to a classic bread and butter pickle – and you are reducing food waste in the process!
Corn Chow Chow
Chow chow comes in many varieties, from all-cabbage to a mix of different vegetables. This version uses sweet corn at its peak and makes a great accompaniment to grilled meats like pork chops or barbecue. Chef Ben says you could also use this recipe for zucchini, squash, or green tomatoes instead of corn, so it’s a great one to keep on file for whenever you need to use up some late-summer produce.
CORN CHOW CHOW
Yield: 2 pints
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups sweet corn kernels, removed from the cob
1 cup red or green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1. Dice red (or green) bell peppers and onions into pieces about the size of the kernels of corn.
2. Mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, pickling spice, turmeric and red pepper flakes in a large pot over high heat. Bring brine to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and completely chill the brine in the refrigerator.
3. Mix corn, peppers and onions and divide into 4 half-pint Mason jars and pour brine over to fill.
4. Put on lids and refrigerate. They will be ready to enjoy in 5 days and will last in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Endless Pickle Jar
Remember the giant jars of pickles on the deli counter? If you loved those as much as we did, make one for your house with Chef Ben’s Endless Pickle Jar recipe! Start with a quart-sized Mason jar, add a simple, dill-forward brine and cucumbers, and you are on your way to pickles anytime you want them. While they are fantastic eaten alone as a snack, Chef Ben also recommends tossing them into a simple salad with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.
ENDLESS PICKLE JAR
Yield: 1 quart
1 cup white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon dried dill
Cucumbers to fill the jar
1. Stir vinegar, salt, mustard seed and dried dill in a large bowl until salt is dissolved completely (no heating needed).
2. Fill quart-sized Mason jar with cucumbers, cut, if needed to fit, or you can leave them whole.
3. Pour brine over to fill the jar and put on lid. Store the jar of pickles in the refrigerator. They will be ready to enjoy after about an hour, but they will get sourer as they sit in the brine.
4. As you use up the pickles in the jar, just keep loading fresh cucumbers to the top of the jar as they come out of your garden or out of your farm share box. Can be kept for 2-3 months in the refrigerator.