Pickled Fruit

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OK, first of all, I actually took some photos this time, but due to iPhoto being uncooperative at this time (I’m redownloading it), I won’t be posting them just yet.

Honey Hollow had the biggest mushroom I’d ever seen – a 16 lb hen-of-the-woods (maitake) mushroom. It was glorious. It is also my favorite. I only bought a little bit of it. YUM.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk to you about fruit, and pickles, and pickled fruit. See, we’re headed for the end of the season soon, and soon there will be no fresh local fruit to be had. We can freeze our fruit, and it is delicious. But we can also pickle it – which is also delicious, if no longer common.

There was time when people at a LOT of pickles, and they still do. In fact, we still do though we don’t recognize them as pickles. Ketchup? It’s a pickled condiment that can be made of many other things other than tomatoes – oranges, walnuts, plums. Chutney? A kind of pickle! But you don’t have to buy it jars at an ethnic food market – you can make it at home very easily.

And fruit. Oh…. pickled fruit. It sounds weird I know, but the following recipes – both from Linda Ziedrich’s “The Joy of Pickling” hit the flavor spot that balances just between sweet and savory. You can serve pickled fruit as an accompaniment to roasted meats, or over ice cream for a sweet/sour treat.

I swear, I never used to be pickle crazy. And in some ways I’m not – cucumber pickles are OK, but I don’t crave them. Homemade pickles are a different story. Homemade pickled beets are amazing and flavorful and intense. The pickled pears? I could eat a quart in one sitting.

I strongly encourage people to run out and get this book. It’s one for the ages.

You’ll need a few things though. Namely, you are going to need pint, or quart, mason jars. I saw them being sold by the dozen at the Broadway Panhandler on 8th street near University Avenue in Manhattan, so that’s the first thing.

The second thing is to not get scared. This is the beginners form of canning, OK? You are going to use what is called the “Hot Pack Method” for canning these suckers. You will not get botulism and die. OK? Pickle juice is extremely acid, and has a LOT of sugar, and the likelyhood of you getting sick is VERY low, because you are going to be packing boiling syrup into jars that have been sterilized in the oven at and are 250 degrees F hot, and capped with metal caps that are 212 degrees. IT WILL BE OK. I’ve done this for a number of years now, and am still alive. If I weren’t, the fact of this blog post would be extremely impressive!

THE HOT PACK METHOD:
1. Wash your jars.
2. Put the jars, mouth UP, on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. They can be damp.
3. Put the cookie sheet & jars into a COLD oven
4. Close oven door. Turn oven on to 250 degrees F.
5. Boil a pot of water.
6. 10 minutes before you need them, put the lids of the jars (and the rings) into the boiling water. Cover the pot and turn off heat.
7. When ready to jar your pickles in boiling syrup, take out the jars. Keep them on the sheet/pan for easy handling. Put them right next to your pot of boiling hot stuff.
8. Put your boiling hot stuff into the extremely hot jars.
9. When they are full, but still have about 1/4″ space at top, take a chopstick and give a quick swirl to release any trapped air bubbles among your fruit/chunks.
10. Put a lid from the boiling hot water bath on each jar.
11. Put a ring on and screw down the lids.
12. Place jars somewhere they can cool down slowly. I like to use a cookie rack so there’s a bit of airflow under there.
13. Be patient. Eventually you’ll hear “POP”, and you’ll know that a vacuum seal has been achieved. If none of your jars seal, or if a couple of jars don’t seal, that’s OK. Still usable! Just store them in the ‘fridge instead of the pantry 🙂
14. Label. Eat in winter when you miss summer most of all.

OK. Now that we have that out of the way, lemme tell you, this week is the week to get both peaches, and tiny, sweet, Seckel pears. I like to pickle the peaches in quarters, but the pears whole.

PICKLED PEACHES
1 3″ cinnamon stick, broken OR 1tsp cardomom & 1 tsp. black pepper (my change)
1 tsp. blade mace
1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin
1 tsp. allspice berries (whole)
1/2 tsp whole cloves

3 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
3.5 cups white wine vinegar
4 lbs ripe & firm peaches

1. Boil a big vat of water. Blanch peaches for 1 minute, and then plunge into a sink of cold water. This will make peeling the peaches much easier.
2. Peel peaches, and quarter them. Put them in a bowl of cold water & a splash of vinegar to keep from browning.
3. In a nonreactive pot (like stainless steel – NO ALUMINIUM), put the spices, sugar, water & vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
4. Reduce heat & simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add peaches. Simmer for a few minutes (about 5 should do it) until they are heated through and *just* tender. You don’t want them to fall apart!
6. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and pack them into the hot jars.
7. Boil syrup so that it thickens a bit. About 8 minutes. NOTE: I had WAY more syrup than peaches. That is OK!
8. Pour hot syrup & spices over peaches leaving a 1/4″ of headspace. Seal jars with hot 2 piece caps.
9. Store jars in a cool, dark place, for at least one month before eating.

PICKLED PEARS
For these, I like to peel the pears and pickle them whole. Then I can grab them by the stem and pop the whole thing in my mouth, sucking off the flesh and leaving the core behind. It’s awfully fun! These are exceptionally good served alongside roasted pork, in the depth of winter. They are also incredible to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner. Very impressive, and very beautiful in their jar!

The Seckel pears are small and a pain in the ass to peel – but it is SO worth it! Keep from browning by putting peeled pears in water with a splash of vinegar.

Four 3″ cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin
3 cups water
2 cups white wine vinegar (cider is great too!)
4 cups sugar
6 lbs of peeled Seckel pears ($1.50 a lb at the greenmarket)

1. Combine spices, water, vinegar & sugar in a nonreactive pot.
2. Bring to a boil & stir to dissolve sugar, then reduce the heat. Simmer syrup for 5 minutes minimum, but I like to do 10 myself.
3. Add pears and cook gently until just tender. About 5 minutes, but use your judgement. If there isn’t room for all the pears, do them in 2 or 3 batches, transferring the cooked pears to your hot sterile jars.
4. Pour the boiling syrup over the pears leaving 1/4″ headspace. Don’t forget to run a chopstick around to release hidden air bubbles.
5. Cap with hot 2 piece caps.
6. Store in a cool dark place.

Enjoy! And pick up a copy of the book. I’m hoping to do my pears next week (too busy this weekend) along with some pickled beets. Those are fantastic on salads…..

~baconbit

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One Response to “Pickled Fruit”

  1. Pages tagged "hen" Says:

    […] bookmarks tagged hen Pickled Fruit saved by 3 others     nilsjeviderilsje bookmarked on 09/18/08 | […]

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