Weekly Farm Notes :: June 16th, 2015

Hello,

Just a quick note with items to expect at market tomorrow. Along with the produce listed below, we will also have cut flowers available – zinnia, coneflowers and gladiolus. We hope to see there!

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June 17th Produce

Here are some of the items you can expect this week:

  • Tomatoes: You simply can’t go wrong with caprese – that delicious combination of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Check out the recent recipe posted by Main Street Farmers Market.
  • Blackberries: I found a really interesting recipe for Cold Brined Pickled Blackberries in Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. See below for the details. I love trying new techniques and look forward to trying this one soon.
  • Snap Green Beans: you gotta watch this video on how to quickly snap green beans. Good stuff!
  • Cabbage: we will have lots of cabbage options for you this week! Flathead, Cone, Savoy and Napa cabbage. Interested in fermenting some of that cabbage? Check out our recipe for Curtido, also know as Salvadorian Sauerkraut!
  • Red Russian, Toscano & Biera Kale: mix kale, delicious cheese from Sequatchie Cove and top it with an egg and you have dinner! Check out this recipe from our friends at Signal Mountain Farm.
  • Mint: looking for ways to use your mint? Check out this delicious recipe list from The Kitchn.
  • Papalo: I have never even heard of this herb! Can’t wait to experiment with it this week. Let us know how you use it!

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Recipe :: Cold Brined Pickled Blackberries

As mentioned above, this is a recipe from Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. I really recommend you check it out!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 6 juniper berries or a shot of London dry-style gin
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/2 ” piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot, quartered

Directions:

  • Fill a 1-quart jar with blackberries and place in the refrigerator. Lightly crush juniper, peppercorns, bay leaf, ginger and allspice. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine vinegar, sugar, salt and 2 cups water and stir to dissolve sugar. Add crushed spices, thyme and shallot. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp then chill for 1 hour. Pour brine over berries and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.


Preserve the Harvest :: Quick Pickled Radish Leaves

Making quick pickles is one of the fastest and easiest ways to preserve the harvest. These types of pickles are made by pouring an acidic brine over produce, allowing the brine to flavor the vegetable or fruit over a number of days in the refrigerator. Although they are called quick “pickles” it is important to understand a few important ways in which they differ from fermented pickles.

  • Time: quick pickles are ready in a matter of hours or days whereas fermented pickles take weeks or even months.
  • Flavor development: quick pickles get their flavor from the acidic brine and any flavoring components whereas fermented pickles get flavor from bacteria present during the fermentation process. Fermented pickles tend to have a more complex and developed flavor but you have more control over the final flavor with quick pickles.
  • Refrigeration: quick pickles have to be refrigerated and typically last only a few weeks, unlike fermented pickles which have a much longer shelf life.

Quick pickling is pretty foolproof but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Vinegar/Water Ratio: I suggest starting with equal parts vinegar to water to see how you like the balance of flavor. You can always adjust it during the next batch. To determine the amount of brine needed, just measure the amount that will fit in the jar you intend to use.
  • Types of Vinegar: I wouldn’t use balsamic vinegar but just about anything else goes – apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar. I like to use rice vinegar because it’s has the lowest acidity level (~4%) of those I mentioned above (wine vinegars are around 7%) so the flavor of the vegetables and spices can shine through a bit more.
  • Flavorings: Whole spices and crushed garlic are great places to start when deciding how to flavor your brine. I prefer to keep the spicing relatively mild so I can use my pickles on just about anything. Mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns are classic but don’t stop there. I have added cumin seeds, fennel seeds, allspice, cinnamon sticks, cloves and dried hot chiles to batches in the past.
  • Sugar: a lot of recipes I find include sugar – and some of them have A LOT! I don’t find that I need sugar because I use rice vinegar. If you are using a vinegar with a higher acidity level (see Types of Vinegar section above) then you might want to add a tablespoon or two to help balance the flavor.
  • Vegetables: some vegetables, like greens, thinly sliced onions or thinly sliced cucumbers don’t need to be pre-cooked. Just pour the hot brine over the vegetables and you are set. Others, like carrots or beets, need to be cooked a little beforehand to ensure they aren’t too crunchy.
  • Time: the amount of time you let the vegetables sit in the brine is completely up to your taste buds. I recommend trying them every day to see how they change.

Below is a rough outline of what I used to preserve the radish leaves from last week’s CSA share. We look forward to hearing your quick pickle recipes!

Quick Pickled Radish Leaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch radish leaves, trimmed, washed and sliced into 1″ strips
  • 1-1/2 cups rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • A few allspice berries
  • A few dried hot peppers

Directions:

  • Place radish leaves in a quart sized glass canning jar and set aside.
  • Place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and carefully pour brine and spices over the radish leaves. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks.