Preserve the Season

Quick Pickles Recipe for Summer

Quick pickles are the perfect way to preserve the season. With the simple combination of fresh summer vegetables and vinegar, you can easily make pickles at home. The resulting pickles can be stored in the fridge as a ready-to-eat summer side dish. There is room for creativity at every step in the process. This quick pickle recipe works for any vegetable, vinegar, and seasoning combination. Try cucumber, green beans, and squash for a late summer bite.

We’ve adapted this recipe from Kevin West’s Universal Pickling Recipe. West’s book, Saving the Season: A cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving, is a core book at SHED. His techniques inspire our pantry and café.

The golden ratio for making pickle brine is 1:1 vinegar and water. Make sure that the vinegar has an acidity of at least 5%. Choosing the right vinegar is an essential step. According to West, “The key to making good pickles is to use good vinegar.” Of course, “good vinegar” depends on the type of pickles you are making. West suggests white-wine vinegar as the standard choice, apple-cider vinegar for sweeter mixtures, and red-wine vinegar for when the recipe calls for a flavorful and bright taste. Darker kinds of vinegar such as malt and balsamic are used less frequently but are well-suited for pickled onions.

You can season quick pickles any way you like. After kosher salt (a key component), you can combine fresh and dried herbs, spices, and garlic cloves to create unique concoctions. West opts for aromatic fresh herbs such as dill weed, tarragon, and basil. He also suggests adding sugar to some pickles like ramps. Whole spices such as peppercorns and coriander keep their flavor longer and therefore are suggested for most pickling recipes. You can also add dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and ground spices such as turmeric and paprika.

Quick Pickles
Yields two quarts

2 pounds fresh vegetables
2 cups vinegar of your choice (%5 acidity or higher)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon honey or sugar, optional
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
4-6 three-inch fronds of fresh herb
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole-seed spices, such as coriander or mustard
2 dried red chilies, optional
2 slices of shallot or a half-dozen pearl onions, optional
Woody spices (cloves) to taste, optional

Slice vegetables to desired shape and size.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar or honey, if using. Bring to a boil, and remove brine from heat.

Pack the cut vegetables tightly into two, quart jars, adding garlic and fresh herbs. Then add peppercorns and whole-seed spices. Add optional woody spices, chilies, and onions last, if using.

Bring the brine back to a boil. Ladle the mixture over the vegetables, filling the jar. Seal the jars and allow them to cool at room temperature overnight. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

 

Try your hand at some of our favorite quick pickles recipes: pickled okra and pickled watermelon rind.

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Provençal Vegetable Tian Recipe

A Provençal favorite, the tian is typically a vegetable gratin baked in a ceramic dish. This recipe highlights the best of the summer season with alternating rows of yellow squash, eggplant, and tomato. These simple ingredients are seasoned with thyme, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil; when cooked, the melded flavors taste somewhat like ratatouille. We baked ours in a Digoin stoneware dish, perfect for serving à table (best at room temperature).

Here’s how to make your own.

Provençal Vegetable Tian
Makes a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large white or yellow onions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium yellow squash
1 1⁄2 pounds small, firm eggplant
1 1⁄2 pounds ripe tomatoes
Basil leaves, to garnish

Cook thinly sliced onions with olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add thyme, chili flakes, and garlic and cook for two minutes.


Cut the squash, eggplant, and tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices.


Spread onion mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish. Arrange the sliced squash, eggplant, and tomato in tightly packed rows. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add sprigs of thyme.


Bake at 400°, uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes to an hour.


Serve at room temperature and garnish with basil leaves.

Recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Eat Good Food

We Love Okra (So Will You)

okra

A relative of cotton, cacao, and hibiscus — okra thrives in tropical, warm, and temperate climates. Which mean is does beautifully in South.

Hailing from Louisiana, SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel grows it on her family’s HomeFarm, where its taste speaks of childhood pleasures.

Okra is commonly braised, grilled, roasted, and — especially in Southern states — fried. 

In addition to flourishing as a pickle, it has a flavor that works well when stewed with other summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

History

  • Okra originated in Africa, but is a staple in cuisines across the globe, from the Middle East to the Southeastern U.S., where its seeds were carried to North America on slave ships over three centuries ago.
  • By the 19th century, the use of the plant was widespread in the U.S.

Tidbits and Terminology

  • Known in many English-speaking countries as ladies’ fingers, ochro or gumbo, okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family.
  • According to culinary historian Jessica Harris, the word “okra” is derived from the word okuru, the name of the plant in the Igbo language of Nigeria.

Cultivation and Harvest

  • The vegetable is at its peak in the summer – especially in the months of July and August, tapering off in early fall.
  • In his book The Gift of Southern Cooking, Scott Peacock describes his childhood method of harvesting okra: “In the fierce heat, the pods grew rapidly. The small ones that weren’t ready in the morning would be ready by dusk (by the next day they’d be too mature). My sister and I would go into the patch with tube socks over our hands and forearms – to protect us from the plant fuzz that scratched like fiberglass – wielding little jackknives.”

Nutritional Information
High in Vitamins K and C, as well as fiber.

Buying Guide
Look for firm, springy pods, free of bruises and dark spots, and no more than four inches long.

While the stem and the area around it while brown quickly, the brighter and greener the ends are, the fresher those pods are.

Storage
Okra picked the same day may have prickly hairs still clinging to it, so handle with care.

Store pods on the counter for immediate use, or keep unwashed in a paper bag in the refrigerator for two to three days.

At a Glance: Cooking Tips

  • Pods can be eaten raw or cooked. In Creole and African cooking, its gummy quality is put to good use as a thickener in stews and soups.
  • Frying, roasting, grilling, or quick sautéing are all strategies to reduce the gelatinous texture. A classic Southern method is to fry frying sliced okra in a simple cornmeal coating.

Recipe: Grilled Okra With Spiced Yogurt, Peanuts, and Mint
This recipe from Atlanta chef Steven Satterfield is full of layered flavors and textures.

1 cup whole Greek yogurt
1 large garlic clove
1 lemon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely smashed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely smashed
1 teaspoon pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 pound fresh okra
3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup roughly chopped dry-roasted peanuts
⅓ cup torn fresh mint

Submerge several 6-inch wooden skewers in water to soak. Preheat a grill.

Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Use a fine grater to grate garlic and lemon zest over yogurt. Halve lemon and squeeze one half into yogurt. Add cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and season with salt and more lemon juice, if needed. Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.

Thread a skewer through 4-6 okra pods just below caps. Thread a second skewer through the same pods, about ½ inch from the tapered tips, creating a secure plank of skewered pods. Repeat with remaining skewers and okra, leaving about 1 inch of bare skewer at each end.

Brush both sides of okra with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place okra skewers on hot grill and cook until okra begins to char, about 2 minutes. Flip and grill opposite side until charred, about 2 minutes more. Transfer grilled okra to a platter and discard skewers.

To serve, spread yogurt sauce over a serving platter or individual plates. Drizzle with oil and top with okra. Garnish with peanuts and mint.

Chefs, Cooking, Modern Grange

Vegetables and Their Secrets

On a sweltering August afternoon, farmers, vacationers, brides-to-be, and home cooks gathered in the SHED Grange on Sunday to glean bits of vegetable wisdom from Chef Steven Satterfield, author of Root to Leaf and chef-owner of Atlanta’s acclaimed restaurant Miller Union. Interspersed with tastes from his book prepared by the SHED kitchen, Steven made his way through a bountiful table of summer produce and gave words of wisdom for selecting, preparing, and cooking vegetables. Among such gems were how to select chilies that naturally impart a sriracha flavor, the difference between green onions and yellow onions, how to get an eggplant perfectly charred on the outside and creamy on the inside, and the secret to preparing perfect pole beans.  Take a peek and take away some vegetable secrets of your own.

beets

With their edible tops and stems, beets are a great example of cooking root to leaf. In fact, beets were first cultivated for their greens, much like their cousin, spinach. Steven loves the flavor combination of beets and nuts.

 

Annie Plating

Chef Annie plating the country ham and melon dish using musk, charentais, and sensation melons from Russian River Farm and S Wallace Edwards & Sons – Surryano Ham, a Good Food Award winner and a favorite of Steven’s which we carry in the SHED Larder.

 

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Steven’s recipe for roasted vegetables featuring okra takes advantage of this versatile, crisp, sweet, complexly flavored vegetable, a Southern staple whose mucilaginousness is under appreciated in the rest of the county. It’s one of his favorite vegetables.

 

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Steven explains the geometry of the onion in terms of its North Pole, South Pole, and Equator, a nifty trick when navigating the natural curves of a vegetable with a straight blade.

 

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A cold glass of Red Car rose proved the perfect pairing to the Southern menu on a hot summer afternoon. We carry Red Car’s lovely vegetable friendly wines in the SHED Pantry.

 

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Miss the event? We’ve got a signed copy of Steven’s book with your name on it, full of great advice for vegetable lovers and omnivores alike.

 

 

Thanks to photographer Karen Preuss for capturing and sharing these images.

Cooking, Farming

EcoFarm 2015: Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison discussing Sibley squash. Photo courtesy EcoFarm.

“Vegetable literacy has to do with seasonality, variety, and names,” Deborah Madison said, standing on a stage decorated with leeks, squash, and cabbage. “If we don’t know what to call a vegetable, then we can’t ask for it — and that’s a varietal that will disappear. We can remember the brand names of jeans, for goodness sakes. We certainly remember the names of some vegetables.” (more…)