Oil & Vinegar

My enthusiasm for water-bath canning might be waning a bit. I hope it comes back, but in the meantime, I’m really glad I picked up a copy of Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning.

Not only is this book great because of its low-tech premise, but the “recipes” are straightforward instructions for assembling ingredients, which makes food preservation a lot more approachable. Guidance on traditional preservation techniques (salt, sugar, oil, vinegar, alcohol, etc.) is uncommon in this age of hyper-liability-conscious USDA food preservation manuals, and seeing these simple instructions in a formal (published) form, gives them credence.
preserving the harvest
Pickled garlic, pistou, basil vinegar, basil oil

I always plant too much basil, so finding new uses for it is a perennial task. What do you do with it? Last weekend I made “pistou,” the Provençal cousin of the Italian pesto.
bunch o' basil

Pistou
from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning
1 large bunch of basil
4 cloves garlic
salt
1 c olive oil
small jars and lids

Grind the garlic and basil, add a pinch of salt and cover with oil. Mix all the ingredients well and spoon into small jars. The jars will keep very well for more than a year if kept in a cool place. I look forward to cooler weather when I can bake some bread to eat with my pistou.

With the remaining basil I made basil-seasoned vinegar and oil. I used a chopstick to shove the leaves into bottles and filled most of the bottles with apple cider vinegar. One bottle was filled with olive oil.

After I finished the basil projects, I started on the garlic. I put on some good music (Wilco, Neko Case, Neil Young) and went to town peeling garlic cloves. And then I took a nap. It doesn’t look like all that many, but it was time-consuming, and eventually, painful. I began to really appreciate the cloves with skin that slipped off in large, cohesive, crispy pieces. Were those a different variety, or just older? I’d like to know.

Look at the variety of shapes.
garlic cloves

Pickled Garlic
from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning
1 lb. garlic
1 quart water
1 T salt
bay leaves
black peppercorns
1 c vinegar
½ c water
¼ c sugar
a saucepan
small jars and lids

Peel the garlic. Boil one quart of water with 1 T salt. Add the garlic and continue to boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the garlic. Fill small jars with the garlic, one bay leaf, and five black peppercorns. Boil the vinegar along with ½ c water and ¼ c sugar, pour this mixture over the garlic, and immediately close the jars. The garlic will keep for a very long time, and is particularly tasty in salads.

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