The Human Food Processor, Part 2
Earlier this week I spent pretty much a whole day in the kitchen preserving food. I forgot to mention one other thing I made during the nighttime portion of this marathon. While the tomatoes were drying and the pickles were chilling, I whipped up some traditional gazpacho:
If you are thinking to yourself that this looks kind of orange and creamy, that is because this is a more traditional Spanish gazpacho than we are used to seeing here in the United States. In Spain, gazpacho is thickened with bread, which makes it kind of silky and great, if not very photogenic. If your Spanish is any good, you can check out a typical Andalucían recipe here, or you can get one in English here.
The next morning I had some help from Tiegan with making brined pickles. Instead of packing these in a ton of vinegar and canning them right away, these are fermented in a salt brine in a crock, like sauerkraut:
We saved our biggest and best (read: straightest) pickling cucumbers for this project. As always, we use the Ball Blue Book recipes for pickling and preserving. The basic gist is that you layer bunches of dill, garlic cloves, and pickling spice below and above all your (whole, uncut) cucumbers. Then you add a salt and vinegar water mixture in the crock until they are all covered. Your need to add a weight to the top to keep the cukes submerged in the brine — I fashioned ours from a salad plate weighted down with a serving bowl. Then you set it aside for about a month:
This picture was taken before I covered it with the weight and a clean dishcloth. The smaller crock next to it has the sauerkraut in it. You can see that the weight Kirk made for that one is kind of rectangular under the dishcloth--I think it's a foil-wrapped brick. Anyway, the only thing you have to do for the next month is skim the crud off the top of the brine as it ferments. That's mold, but if you get it early it doesn't affect the food. I promise this is a time-tested process and is totally safe and delicious. After the fermenting is done, you can the pickles and sauerkraut the regular way, in boiling water.
After the pickling, I turned the last of the tomatillos into a salsa verde:
This is very easy. Just chop up tomatillos, some chiles, and cilantro, then add a dash of salt and stir it together. I don't really have measurements because I just make however much I can, depending on what I harvest. Our jalapeños are terribly un-spicy this year, so I used three (not a lot, since I can pretty much take a bite right out of one with no problem), plus an ancho, and still had to spike it with some ground cayenne and chipotle. You can add chiles and cilantro to taste. We've already had green salsa for our last two taco dinners, so I put this one in the freezer for later.
Finally, I used the rest of the tomatoes for a red salsa:
This is my favorite thing to eat in the summer. Again, I just kind of eyeball the recipe, but basically it's chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeños. I also often add a radish or two, which helps add some bite when your peppers suck. In this one I used the tiny corn I blanched the night before and threw in a dash of salt. I also had to add some ground cayenne so it would even be a little bit spicy. Normally I am all about spicing this salsa up, but the lack of jalapeño power has been a blessing for the kids, who really like this milder version.