Pickled Beets & Onions

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This time of year, I always find myself pickling a lot of fruits and vegetables. (Currently I’m experimenting with beets and onions.) Last year I infused vodka a few ways and this year I’m looking to go a different direction and infuse gin. My first attempt is going to be a pickled beet gin hence why I’ve begun pickling beets, more on that later. Moving forward, I’m doing a combined post with the pickled beets and onions for the reason that they both use the exact same ingredients and measurements…I just pickled them separately. I have a few recipes that will be posted down the road using each of these pickled vegetables, until then you can use the beets and onion on top of salads!

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Mise en Place:

-2 Cups Red Wine Vinegar

-2 Cups Granulated Sugar

-1/4 cup Salt TT

-2 Bay leaves

-10 Black Peppercorns

-1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed

-1 Red Onion, Julienne thin OR 4 Beets roasted until soft (Approximately 45 minutes @350 degrees) and peeled.

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Additional Tools:

-1 Pot

-Mason Jar or other pickling jar

Method of Prep:

-Over medium heat, stir sugar into vinegar until dissolved. Add in spices and bring to a boil.

-Place vegetable of pickling choice into picking jar. Once vinegar has come to a boil, cook for and additional 3 minutes and pour over vegetables.

-Let liquid cool to room temperature. cover with a lid and place in refrigerator for up to 2 days before using.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Sauerkraut

If you couldn’t tell by the last name (Gresbach) I have a good amount of German ethnicity in me. Although I don’t have any first or second relatives from Germany I do if you were to dig back over 100 years ago to my Great great grandfolks who are from Crov, Germany. I guess I’m only about 20% German but for me that’s enough to at least relish my heritage and get creative on the food of that culture.

My dad is very big on German foods such as sauerkraut, potato salad, and of course German beers. I’ve eaten more than you could imagine possible of sauerkraut during my time and love it more everyday. Now that I’ve fallen in love with infusing liquors, pickling fruits and vegetables, and canning jams, I wanted to begin the fermentation phase of food and beverages. The easiest food fermented item for beginners is the making of sauerkraut. If you are for the most part not a fan of sauerkraut you should try making it at home. It might change your life. This is a simple recipe that just requires salt and time. I was counting down the weeks until it was finally time to eat the kraut and boy oh boy is it good.

Active Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 3 Weeks

Ingredients:

-1 Head of cabbage, finely shredded

-2 Tablespoons Salt

-1 or 2 Containers to ferment cabbage in

Preparation:

Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Begin to squeeze the salt and cabbage together using your hands, kneading it thoroughly to break up the cellular structure of the cabbage.

-When the cabbage has become limp and released its juice, transfer it to a container you wish to ferment in.  Pack the salted cabbage into the container as tight as you can, eliminating air bubbles. Continue packing until the cabbage is submerged in its liquid.

-Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature, undisturbed for at least 3 weeks. You can test it every day until it reaches your liking. I recommend 3 weeks to get a stronger sour bite that sauerkraut contains.

-When finished transfer container to the refrigerator and hold in there for up to 6 months.

Enjoy!

**Notes:   The real key to preparing homemade sauerkraut, and any fermented food, is that the solid materials rest below the liquid. Fermentation is an anaerobic process and to expose your ferments to air increases the likelihood that they’ll become contaminated by stray microbes, yeasts and molds. (Source)

Some of my favorite additions to sauerkraut that make it super tasty is:

Caraway seeds + bacon= Cook 2 strips of bacon, set aside. Add in 1/2 cup sauerkraut, and 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds to bacon fat from pan. cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Chop up bacon and sprinkle on top.

Sauerkraut + hot sauce + spicy mustard= Smother this mixture on top of a grilled hot dog!

Sauerkraut + Bratwursts + German beer or Belgian beer= Grill a few brats, top with sauerkraut and flush it all down with a light German beer or my favorite Belgian beer: Chimay.

I’m also working on a kimchi recipe that will come out in the near future. 🙂

Peach & Onion Chutney

I’ve fallen in love with canning and preserving. Mason jars are taking over the little bit out cabinet space I have but its worth it. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try canning something you should give it a shot. My suggestion if your new to this process is to start small. A simple beginners project would be making pickles. Pickles contain only a few ingredients and unless your planning on preserving them for months they are ready to eat within several days. Plus it requires little equipment, just a stove and mason jar! My pickle recipe is easy and great to try if you’ve never make pickles before.

Aside from pickles I’ve been exploring other ways of canning and preserving food. Making jams is also a simple task and will hold in the freezer for when your ready to use. I’ve never make a chutney before so I figured now would be a good time to try. Nothing makes snacking on some crackers better than having a dip, spread, or even chutney to add flavor and texture to your tiny meal. This is a delicious chutney that goes excellent with crackers, or can be used on top of proteins such as pork and chicken. If I’m craving something sweet I will turn to this chutney instead of ice cream. There is a great balance of sweet and acidity from the vinegar and it makes the perfect appertif before a meal.

**Note: You can substitute any fruit for this recipe.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 2 Hours

Ingredients:

-3 small Yellow onions, julienne

-3 peaches, peeled, cut small dice

-2 cups sugar

-1 Cup Apple cider vinegar

-1 Cinnamon Stick

-3 Cloves garlic, minced

-Salt and Pepper, TT

Method of Preparation:

-In a large sauce pot, sauté garlic until golden brown.

-Add in onion and cook until translucent. About 3 minutes stirring constantly.

-Add in peaches, and sugar. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved in peach juices.

-Deglaze with vinegar then add in cinnamon stick.

-Season with salt and pepper, taste.

-Let cook until reduced on medium heat, approximately 2 hours. Stir often.

-When reduced to the consistency of a jam, pour into a jar of your choice for storing.

-Let cool at room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pickles!

Since I was 8 years old I’ve been in love with pickles. Honestly, I’ve never liked bread and butter pickles, they’re too sweet for my liking. I’ve always preferred  pickles that are acidic and salty making me a dill pickle gal all the way. The strong garlic, salt, and dill flavor keeps me salivating for more. My mouth waters just thinking of them now. In case you were wondering I would also drink the pickle juice. Many folks think that’s disgusting, personally I think it’s delicious.

I stopped buying pickles when I was in college. There wasn’t any reason why I guess I just grew out of always wanting to buy them. Eventually I started making my own because lets be honest, its quick to do and effortless. I enjoy adding dried red chiles into my pickling liquid for a nice kick. Please try this recipe it’s one of my favorite things to snack on and its delicious!

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Each Cucumber, sliced 1/8 inch thick

-1 Each Garlic clove, sliced thin

-1 Cup Sugar

-1 Cup White Distilled Vinegar

-4 Each Peppercorns

-2 Each Parsley sprigs

-1 Each small Rosemary Sprig

-2 Each Dried Red chiles

-1 Mason Jar

Preparation:

-Combine sugar and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

-While pickling liquid is cooking, place all other ingredients in the mason jar.

-Pour hot liquid into mason jar covering cucumbers and aromatics.

-Leave the lid off and set at room temperature for 1 hour before putting in the refrigerator

– Make sure liquid is completely cool before placing lid on the jar. Hold in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating.

Enjoy!

**Note: Pickles will float to the top of the jar. To keep them submerged in the hot liquid, make a ball out of plastic wrap and place on top of pickles until ready.

Pickled Peaches

I’ve got Georgia on my mind, well peaches that is. There are road signs scattered throughout the freeway here in Florida screaming “Fresh Georgia peaches, exit now!” I’m seeing bins filled to the top at the Publix as low as $0.88/pound just for peaches. If that’s not my sign to buy peaches and do something with them then I don’t know what is!

Peaches are certainly at the top of my list for favorite fruits to eat. Not only do peaches have the capability to pair with just about anything in cooking from bourbon and chili peppers to creams and vinegars but there are many different recipes and techniques you can use to cook with them. When I think of peaches the first thing that comes into my head is cobblers followed by ice cream. I get excited just thinking about what recipe I can come up with next using peaches as the main ingredient. I prefer to eat my fruit fresh. The last time I purchased fruit in a can was at least 10 years ago. There is 1 exception to this, Greenbrier peaches. When I worked at the Greenbrier in West Virginia last year I started working in the pantry for a few months just to get my feet in the water before diving onto a hot line I had no experience with. One of the menu items that was a well liked favorite was the peaches. I didn’t understand why because they came straight out of a can that was kept frozen and thawed out the day of service. My supervisor assured me that I had to try one peach and I would understand the enigma. Mind blown. I still to this day don’t know what it is about those canned peaches that have become a historic item on the Main Dining Room menu but I do know that those peaches make damn good peach milkshakes with peach ice cream of course, and excellent smoothies.

With peaches being in my budget, which makes me a very happy girl, I’ve been able to have them on hand as a staple for the moment. Today I decided I wanted to do something with peaches I haven’t done before. One thing that came into my mind was pickling. I’ve never pickled fruit before but i see a lot more blogs where people are doing just that. The last fruit related thing I came across that seemed bizarre to me was pickled watermelon rind. I’ve always thrown that part away but if you think about it in a smarter sense it could be a good way to save on food cost. A good way to get the most out of your product before tossing it. Needless to say that project is on my list of things to try, be on the look out for that post in the near future. The original recipe made 4 quarts, I only needed enough for one jar so I cut back on the recipe by half.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

-2 Peaches, peeled, and cut

-1 Cup Granulated Sugar

-1 Cup White Vinegar

-1 Cup Water

-2 Cinnamon Sticks

-2 Star Anise

Preparation:

-Combine the sugar, vinegar and water in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Pour liquid over the peaches to 1/2 inch from the rim. Put one cinnamon stick into jar. Wipe the rims with a clean dry cloth, and seal with lids and rings. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.

<–Have a hot water bath waiting as you begin the pickling process.

-Let sit in refrigerator at least 4 days before trying.

Enjoy!

**Note: If your peaches aren’t quite ripe you can cook them in the vinegar solution, after your boiled that for 10 minutes, until tender. Spoon peaches into a jar first and then add the liquid.

-Cloves also work well for this recipe instead of using Anise.