I have spent my evenings and weekends over the last few weeks preserving the abundance in our fields. So far I've made elderberry syrup, sauerkraut, dilly beans, and hot sauce; pickles, kimchi, and applesauce are next. In the spirit of my own to-do list, this week’s CSA theme is preservation. There are many ways to preserve food, including drying, freezing, salting, sugaring, pickling, jellying, and canning. I've had a lot of fun with the fermentation side of pickling but, after leaving 3 gallons of sauerkraut in the kitchen for 2 weeks to do its thing, I think my community members prefer the quick (and less smelly) vinegar-pickled green beans. I've chosen my favorite preservation recipes that you can try out with this week’s share of produce.
Assistant Farm Manager
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
Asian Pears, Shinseki
Beets, Red Ace
Green Beans, Provider
Pickling blend: Dill Seeds, Celery Seeds, Coriander Seeds
Summer Squash, mixed varieties
Tomatoes, mixed varieties
- 2-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or two-quart mason jars)
- Canning funnel (optional)
- Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
- Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
- Cloth for covering the jar
- Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth
1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)
- Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it's best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You'll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.
- Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.
- Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first it might not seem like enough salt, but gradually the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you'd like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.
- Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, this will make the job easier. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.
- Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
- Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.
- Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
- Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
- Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it's fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.
Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There's no hard-and-fast rule for when the sauerkraut is "done" — go by how it tastes.
While it's fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don't eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
- Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.
Sealable canning jars - 1 ½ pint/750 milliliter size is best, as its height perfectly accommodates the length of string beans
- String beans
- Whole dried chili peppers
- Celery seed
- Fresh dill
- White distilled vinegar
- Guesstimate how many jars you’ll fill with the string beans you have. Thoroughly clean jars and line them up.
- Into each jar, place 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of salt, 1 whole red chili pepper, ¼ teaspoon (1.5 milliliters) of celery seed, and a flowering dill top or small bunch of dill leaves. Then fill the jar with beans standing on end, stuffing them as tightly as you can into the jar.
- For each jar you have filled, measure 1 cup (250 milliliters) of vinegar and 1 cup (250 milliliters) of water. Boil the vinegar-water mixture, then pour it into the jars over the beans and spices, to ½ inch (1 centimeter) from the top of the jar.
- Seal the jars and place them in a large pot of boiling water for a 10-minute heat processing.
- Leave the dilly beans for at least 6 weeks for the flavors to meld, then open jars as desired and enjoy. Heat-processed pickles can be stored for years without refrigeration.
Universal Fermented-Pickle Recipe
Yields about 2 quarts
- 2 pounds sturdy vegetables, such as Kirby cucumbers, small zucchini, green beans, baby turnips, or green tomatoes
- 6 4-inch sprigs fresh dill (including seed heads, if available)
- 6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 6 level tablespoons sea salt (2.25-2.5 ounces)
- 2 quarts water
1. Wash and trim the vegetables, and pack into a one-gallon jar or crock. Tuck in the dill, garlic, and other aromatics as you go.
2. Dissolve the salt in the water, and pour over the vegetables to cover. Weight the vegetables with a plate so that they remain completely submerged. Alternatively, fill a Ziploc freezer bag with brine, and use it to submerge the vegetables. (Make extra brine using the same proportions if necessary). If using a jar, loosely close the lid. (Do not seal it so because gases produced by the ferment need to escape.) If using a crock, cover it with a plate or board to keep out unwanted visitors.
3. Store the ferment in a cool, dark place, and check daily. Skim any scum or flecks of mold. Insure that the vegetables remain submerged. The pickles will begin to sour in less than a week. You can eat them at any point in the fermenting process. Once soured to your likely, transfer the pickles to the refrigerator, and keep submerged in brine. They will keep for a month or longer.
October 15 - Oz Harvest Festival
We are offering a flower bouquet with your CSA share for $7 a week. Bouquets are filled with seasonal blooms that will brighten up your home. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Come see us Saturdays at the Gualala Farmers’ Market!!